Tired But Inspired

20 Feb 2012 in Festival, Moray, Music, Showcase

Kressana Aigner sees Showcase Scotland from the delegate’s perspective

NOW approaching its 20th year, Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival has grown from what was deemed an improbable idea to the largest winter festival in the world.

It is an event that inspires music makers and creators: each year people from all over the world turn their eyes and ears to Glasgow for inspiration and ‘connections’. The 2012 line-up included artists from Mali and Senegal, Cuba, Israel, Japan, Bosnia, Canada and Ireland.

A fact worth noting is that among a total of nearly 180 main-programme shows, more than two-thirds featured a wholly or substantially Scottish line-up, with over a third of these featuring artists from the Highlands and Islands, including Lochaber Gold, Skipinnish, Cuairt nan Eilean, Session A9, Kris Drever, Blazin Fiddle and The Wrigley Sisters.

Session A9

Session A9 (photo Martin Heron)

Scottish music really is the backbone of this Festival. Another fabulous thing about Celtic Connections is that it allows artists to stretch their creative wings, experiment with boundaries and explore new musical territories. Partnerships, collaborations and connections are all at the heart of the festival.

I attended this year as a delegate of Showcase Scotland. Now in its 13th year, it is the nation’s largest international meeting of music industry professionals. “An integral element of Celtic Connections, Showcase Scotland offers artists a unique opportunity to perform in front of over 200 promoters, record labels and agents from 20 different countries,” says Festival Manager Jade Hewat.

Showcase Scotland is a five-day event, scheduled during the busiest weekend of Celtic Connections (as if the organisers hadn’t enough to be getting on with!). Produced by Active Events, with support from a steering group of 22 industry professionals from across Scotland, Showcase Scotland is an opportunity for promoters, record labels, agents and festival organisers to meet both the Scottish industry and each other, as well as seeing and hearing Scottish artists from a wide swathe of genres in optimum performance conditions.

Ian Smith, the Portfolio Manager of Music and IP Development for Creative Scotland, who are a key funding partner for Showcase Scotland and Celtic Connections, said in his welcome speech to visiting delegates: “We want you to be inspired and enthused and most importantly to book our artists!”


Breabach (photo Martin Heron)

Five days, 12 venues, over 60 performances plus seminars, discussions, talks, networking events and a trade fair: Showcase Scotland is no free, slap-up easy ride. Here results are expected – acts are booked, record deals are negotiated, partnerships formed, all playing a significant role in the development of the Scottish music industry both nationally and internationally.

Two hundred delegates from 21 countries attended this year. In 2011, each delegate booked an average of four Scottish artists for their own festival, venue or event. An estimated overall spend on artists was between £1,528,871 and £2,222,721!


Seudan (photo Martin Heron)

Another ‘connection’ made via Showcase Scotland is that each year the event features an international partner – this year the spotlight was on Catalonia. Supported by Catalan Institute for the Cultural Industries, six of Catalonia’s top musical acts were featured in the weekend’s programme.

The Minister of Culture of Catalonia said that “our presence at Showcase Scotland will also reinforce the networking between Catalan and Scottish professionals and open new possibilities for collaboration.”

Celtic Connections is all about connections – connections with friends, connections with music, family connections, national and international connections, industry connections, connections through stories, song and music, and most importantly meaningful and lasting connections.

I returned home to Moray and – as well as having tired feet from dashing from venue to venue and a croaky voice from talking and sharing ideas with the other delegates – I was truly inspired from hearing a range of musical talent from Scotland.

I have secured bookings for acts; I have raised seed-money and support towards an event currently being planned to showcase Moray’s artistic community (watch this space!) and rekindled business relations and networks. Showcase Scotland – money well invested!

Kresanna Aigner grew up in Findhorn Village, and now lives in Moray once again, where she works with the Moray Art Centre and is part of a vibrant artistic community in the area.

© Kresanna Aigner, 2012