Countries all round Europe are coming together today to celebrate Europe Day. The day marks the anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, which is seen as the birth of the European Union. Schuman was a French foreign minister who in 1950 proposed the pooling of coal and steel production between France and Germany, alongside Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Schuman probably had little awareness then of just how his idea would grow on the scale that it has. Today the European Union boasts a membership of 28 countries, who all enjoy collaboration at all conceivable levels, far beyond the origins of coal and steel.
Connections between Scotland and the rest of Europe are particularly apparent through the arts. So, to celebrate Europe Day, we thought we would look at some of the ways in which we share such close ties. Scotland has become a hub for European arts, welcoming international productions for many years. At the same time, Scottish productions and performers are regularly welcomed and honoured throughout Europe.
Europe in Scotland
In 1947 the Edinburgh International Festival (EIF) invited performers from across Europe and the world to perform in Scotland. The festival is celebrating its 72nd birthday this year, and this trend has continued year on year. As a result, the EIF has come to be revered for highlighting and celebrating our international cultural links.
1947 also marked the birth of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, when artists who were not invited to the International Festival simply turned up and did their own thing. This movement has continued to expand leading to the Edinburgh Fringe becoming the largest festival of its kind in the world. The Fringe has also inspired others around the world – at least 200 festivals using the Fringe's open-access model take place around Europe and the rest of the world each year.
This month marks the beginning of the IberoDocs Film Festival in Edinburgh. The festival brings together the very best in documentaries created by Spanish, Portuguese and Latin-American filmmakers. What makes this annual event extra special is that it is run by volunteers from overseas who live and work in Scotland. This is a great example of how the arts are creating links between Scotland and the rest of the world. People are welcomed to Scotland to live, work and study, and also celebrate their own culture and heritage at events just like this.
As well as this, the Edinburgh International Children's Festival is showcasing the very best of Europe this year. The festival will showcase productions from right across Europe, highlighting not only Scotland's desire to work with Europe, but also Europe's desire to come to Scotland.
These are exactly the type of cultural exchanges that showcase the close relationship Scotland has with the rest of Europe. The collaboration that spawned in Edinburgh in 1947 has continued and strengthened over time and continues to this day. Scotland has long appreciated the importance of multiculturalism, openness and dialogue and this is clearly being recognised throughout Europe as our music and heritage takes centre stage in 2019.