In a rebranding which aims to encapsulate the moral core of what was previously known as the Festival of Spirituality & Peace, the programme for Edinburgh’s Just Festival was launched last night in St John’s Church.
With 129 performances, talks, films, events and exhibitions, the festival aims to celebrate cross-faith and cross-cultural diversity in Edinburgh during August. The Just Festival has five key themes – Faith Today, Scottish Independence Referendum, Changing World, Behind Closed Doors and Ethics Over Profit – which combine to provide an insightful, enlightening and thought-provoking programme.
Chaired conversations therefore examine topics including fair trade and immigration, and also Scottish sectarianism and our national sense of identity. A boutique selection of films cast light on political resistance, asylum and amnesty, whilst the programme of talks encompass faith, spirituality, history and more.
Workshops offer the chance to learn Islamic calligraphy or Punjabi cooking; to discuss death whilst taking tea and cake; or simply to be in mindful meditation. Events specially for children and exhibitions also feature in a suitably diverse and inspiring selection.
Of course, the beautiful interior of St John’s Church will also ring with the sound of some unique performances, including the a capella harmonies of Africa Entsha, the hypnotic Indian music and dance of Sacred Earth, the uplifting voices of the Glasgow Gospel Choir, and music from Soweto, Japan and the Middle East.
A handful of theatre performances also feature, from the classic examination of sectarianism Singin’ I’m No A Billy He’s A Tim, to new writing such as the Scottish historical piece Creepie Stool.
It would be unfair to suggest that Edinburgh’s other festivals shy away from moral, political and social issues. However, by curating a series of events and performances which both celebrate and highlight the importance of the world’s cultural and ethical diversity, the Just Festival could perhaps be described as the festival season’s compassionate heart.
Just Festival takes place from 2-26 August, centred around St John’s Church in the West End. More information will be available on the Just Festival website.