Edinburgh Deaf Festival programme launched at spectacular event



Three people signing 'festival'

Pictured: Jamie Rea, Solar Bear; Shona McCarthy, Edinburgh Fringe Festival CEO, Philip Gerrard, Deaf Action CEO

Deaf Action was delighted to host people from across the arts, business, charity and politics sectors at Bonnie & Wild, within St James Quarter, on Thursday 17 June, to welcome the programme launch of the Edinburgh Deaf Festival.

Unique in Scotland and the rest of the UK, our festival will be a celebration of deaf culture, language and heritage and will take place this summer from 12 – 19 August 2022, running alongside the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The festival is deaf-led in its organisation, production as well as the performances and events. It will feature drama, magic, comedy, cabaret, tours and exhibitions, and even a spectacular deaf rave.

Our CEO, Philip Gerrard, said:
“It is lovely to see such a range of people here tonight to join us to celebrate the programme launch. The festival will be a real celebration of our language, culture, heritage and the variety of people that make up our community. What’s more, the programme we have tonight is just the first edition, and we have more events to add in the coming weeks.”

The programme launch brought together performers and supporters including Edinburgh Fringe Festival CEO Shona McCarthy, plus representatives from EventScotland, the Scottish Government and St James Quarter.

Shona McCarthy, said:
“The Edinburgh Fringe is really proud to be associated with the first deaf festival in Scotland. I am completely thrilled to see this happen. It’s amazing to see Deaf Action, and all the community, come together to put together such a comprehensive programme. And they’re still adding to it. I’m just so proud of everybody in this room tonight. I think this is something that’s going to continue into the future and I hope it becomes an annual addition to the festivals landscape.”

Edinburgh Deaf Festival is the first of its kind in Scotland. Edinburgh has had a rich association with deaf culture, ever since the world’s first school for deaf people was founded here in 1760. So where better to launch this accessible festival and bring communities together.

Our aim is to bring the arts to deaf audiences, giving deaf people access to festivals in a way that they haven’t had before. We’re also giving mainstream audiences the opportunity to learn more about our rich deaf culture whilst enjoying a variety of performances.

Christina McKelvie, Minister for Equalities and Older People, said:
“I warmly welcome the Edinburgh Deaf Festival to Scotland’s festivals family this year and thank Deaf Action for their work in organising. This inaugural festival will highlight the wonders of deaf culture and its arts which will be a showcase of how communities can come together to enjoy inclusive and accessible entertainment, stories and cultural enrichment. In our Culture Strategy for Scotland, the Scottish Government set out our goal of supporting everyone, regardless of background, language or disability, to lead a cultural life of their choice, with all aspects of cultural engagement available to them.

“This festival will be fully aligned with our government’s intention to ultimately make Scotland the best place in the world for people who sign to live, work, visit and learn – so that people whose primary language is BSL will be fully involved in all areas of daily and public life in Scotland.”

In addition to performances, Edinburgh Deaf Festival will also feature accessible tours, exhibitions, workshops and book clubs. Performances will include a mix of deaf and hearing artists. All will be interpreted and captioned – and will be inclusive for deaf and hearing people.

The festival will also feature an exhibition and screening as part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, which has been designed to spotlight, celebrate and promote the wealth of stories inspired by, written, or created in Scotland.

Deaf Action will also be working with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival to make more of their events accessible.

Edinburgh Deaf Festival is made possible thanks to funding from Creative Scotland, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Nancie Massey Trust.

Performances will be at Deaf Action, 49 Albany Street, Edinburgh, and other venues across the city. Find out more at www.edinburghdeaffestival.co.uk