Citizen Tours, Talks and Screenings at the 2021 Book Festival

Citizen Tours, Talks and Screenings at the 2021 Book Festival
This August, we are inviting authors and audiences to examine what it means to be a part of a community through our Citizen and Story Nation programmes.
A series of events and activities reflect on Edinburgh, its residents and their sense of place and home in Citizen, our ongoing programme of long-term partnerships with organisations and residents across the city and Musselburgh. Citizen is supported by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery through the Postcode Culture Fund and through the PLACE programme.
“Community is at the very heart of the Book Festival," said our Communities Programme Director, Noëlle Cobden. "We are committed to diversifying audiences and expanding engagement across Edinburgh and this year, following our move to Edinburgh College of Art, we have been working to build ties with our new community in Tollcross. It is an opportunity to continue focusing on elevating and amplifying local voices across the city and reflecting these voices in our Citizen programme.”
New for us in 2021 is the Citizen City Tour, developed alongside Tollcross Community Action Network together with photographer Alicia Bruce and our Citizen Writer in Residence Eleanor Thom. This free, self-guided audio tour encourages participants to explore the gap between Edinburgh’s postcard exterior and its inner heart with contributions from Omar, the owner of the Khartoum Café; Kelly, GM of the Cameo Cinema, and Carol Ann, a long-time resident who recalls visiting the ‘Steamie’ in Tollcross.   
Confined for the best part of the last 16 months by various ‘stay at home orders’, Jenni Fagan is joined by Caleb Femi and Graeme Armstrong in Take Your Place to explore how relationships to home and identity have shifted over the course of the pandemic. Award-winning theatre director Ross MacKay heads up R-Words: Infectious Poetry for Everybody, tracing the spread of his idea to infect people with poetry from conception to completion. Twelve poets contributed their first lines of poems, which were then distributed across the country in a game of poetry consequences. ‘R-Words’ brings these poems together for the first time, read aloud by some of our community writing groups. 
With a new One City collection of short stories set for publication in January 2022, Lesley Hinds, founder of OneCity Trust and Lord Provost’s Poverty Commission, is joined by several of the contributing writers, including Irvine Welsh, Anne Hamilton and Sara Sheridan, to look at the deepening trends of poverty and inequality within Edinburgh.   
Following on from the success of last year’s virtual event, Stories and Scran returns for a second helping. This community meal, enjoyed by participants in our Citizen programme, will take place in Edinburgh College of Art, with dinner provided by The Scran Academy. The meal will be followed by a showcase of live readings, audio stories and short films in a celebration of community spirit. 
Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “I’m delighted that players are supporting the Citizen programme, helping bring the community together after a challenging year. As an Edinburgh resident myself, I’m looking forward to taking part in the activities alongside other local people to learn more about our city and those who live in it.”
Through our Story Nation programme, which brings the joy of the Festival to communities who cannot attend events in person, we take a selection of authors from the Festival programme to visit Scottish Prisons in August, including HMP Edinburgh, Perth and Cornton Vale. We're also continuing to work with the Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity, organising ‘costume character’ visits, workshops and distributing books at the new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People. This builds upon work started in 2020 to engage children staying at the hospital in creative activities. 
We're also piloting a series of screenings at The Birks cinema in Aberfeldy in August and throughout the autumn, reaching out to audiences who are unable to attend the Festival in Edinburgh and who can suffer from unreliable broadband connections at home. Broadcasting writers and illustrators appearing in both the adult and family programmes in Edinburgh, these screenings connect the community to the Book Festival and will be supplemented with additional creative activities led by Perthshire artists.
Anna Beedham, Enterprise Director at The Birks Cinema, said: "I'm really excited to work in partnership with Edinburgh International Book Festival to bring this pilot programme to the screen at the Birks Cinema, Aberfeldy. I look forward to welcoming our audiences, and visitors back into our unique venue, to experience a literary treat, or three!"
For more on our ongoing Communities work, including Citizen and Story Nation, visit
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