:— Nurturing the grassroots

In pan, Edinburgh‘s Fling can be seen as the district council’s response to charges of elitism which are generally made at some stage during the three- week run ofthe lntemational Festival and Fringe.

The basic objective ofthe Fling is to give arts groups the chance to stage performances in their own community, with financial and marketing support from the council. ‘There‘s such a cultural bombardment in Edinburgh that grassroots events can easily be overlooked.‘ says senior recreation officer Ashley Pn'ngle. ‘The Fling shows Edinburgh in a different light to the way most people see it and places the focus on far-flung communities.‘

The Fling, formerly the Spring Fling, nearly didn‘t survive, with some councillors believing the events were of interest to too small a minority to justify funding. However. officers from the recreation department argued that

the festival offered a chance to build audiences for the arts beyond the mainstream city centre venues. Pringle admits the Fling has suffered in the past from an image problem but believes its value to community development has been proven. ‘This is not outreach work it is intended to come from the communities themselves with a bias in favour of anyone living or working in Edinburgh,‘ he explains.

The theme of this year‘s Fling is ‘My Town, Your Town. . . Exploring Edinburgh's Communities‘ and the content ofall but a handful of events in the programme was determined by the 50 or so groups that are taking part. This year for the first time there will be an arts fair at the Assembly Rooms organised by the Edinburgh District Arts Council. The fair will give small- scale arts organisations the chance to recruit members and swap ideas. with ans suppliers such as lighting companies taking stalls to promote their services.

‘We want to create a meeting point for arts organisations in Edinburgh in a wider sense so that the public is made aware of activities that maybe don't feature on The Scotsman ans pages.‘ says Donald Smith ofthe Netherbow,

who originally suggested the idea. ‘There's a whole wave of activity in Edinburgh that needs a platform. Local ans doesn‘t necessarily mean parochial arts.‘ (Eddie Gibb)

The Fling; all fired up

The Fling runsji'nm Thursday 28

April—.S‘utur(lu_\‘ 7 May. The urtsfliir is an .S'ulurday 3!) April/rum noun-6pm, fol/(med by u live music even! at 7pm. l-‘nrjii/l (Iv/ails phone ()3/ 52‘) 4878.

_ Unbroken link

Glasgow’s centralised ticket sales system, Ticketlink, is pressing ahead with the installation of a new computer system, despite the withdrawal of four venues from the network, including the Theatre Royal.

The other venues - GFT, RSAMU and the Old Athenaeum Theatre - pulled out because the number of tickets sold through the system did not justify the cost of having a Tickettlnk tennlnal in their box offices, while the Theatre Royal has opted to spend the money on its own marketing strategy. The council is passing the cost of upgrading the system on to arts venues.

‘It was costing more to maintain the equipment and the venues were not prepared to pass on the costs to their audiences,’ says David Balkind, the council’s head of commercial development, of the three smaller venues. ‘Financially it was no loss to the council, however strenuous efforts were made to keep those venues on the system.’

Balkind admitted that the loss of the Theatre Royal was a more serious blow, but stressed that it would not affect the viability of, which sells around 1.1 million tickets each year. Negotiations are now underway to expand the network to cover venues in Edinburgh, and possibly London. (Eddie Gibb)

I Another council ticket marketing initiative Clyde Card is being relaunched with a target of securing 5000 cardholders by the end of the year. The scheme is intended to increase Glasgow audiences by offering cheap seats and two-for-one deals. The card currently costs £7.50 and information on discounts is published fortnightly In The List. For

details about Clyde Card phone 041

227 5511.

:— censored news

Campaigning iournalist Paul Foot recently criticised The Independent for giving prominence to a letter it published from the British liational Party. lie argued that the principles of free speech did not require the BIIP’s voice to be heard because of the link between the party’s political views and violence perpetrated in its name. That’s exactly the argument the government uses to prevent the broadcast of Sein Fein spokesman, responded an Independent columnist. The debate about whether freedom of speech is an absolute right continues in the UK and throughout the world. The Index on Censorship, which has campaigned for free speech throughout the world since it was started by Stephen Spender in 1972, is

Salman Rushdie: ‘Saraievo of the mind’ relaunched next month in a timely attempt to raise the level of debate about the power of the censor. ‘The issue is about whether you shut neo- fascists up or whether other human rights are more important,’ says editor Ursula Owen. ‘My basic position is that I don’t think these are easy issues but you have to assume people are grown ups and can make their own


The bi-monthly magazine has been relaunched in a Granta-style book format and the first issue under Owen includes an impressive list of heavyweight writers: Salman Rushdie on the ‘Saraievo of the mind’; Umberto Eco discussing how writers should avoid being unwittingly involved in right wing propaganda; and Channel 4 chief executive Michael Grade on secrecy laws which prevent legitimate freedom of information.

With the panic over video nasties recently resurfaced and lord Justice Scott’s ongoing deliberations over the anns-to-Iraq inquiry, these are all topics relevant to the UK. But through a network of contacts with foreign journalists and writers, Index also documents gross abuses of the censors power in other countries, with a special report in the new issue on censorship in Egypt. (Eddie Gibb) Index on Censorship can be contacted on 071 278 2313. A subscription for six issues costs £30.

:— Keen spirit

Sound City was desperately keen to demonstrate that it would have an impact on Glasgow beyond the week- long gigfest and it played its trump card rather neatly. Before the event, the district council was talking about ways to improve the infrastructure of the local music industry and pledged a modest £30,000 towards setting up a development fund. During the Sound City Week it upped its stake: ‘Uid we say £30,000? What we meant was £130,000,’ it announced with a flourish.

The development fund will be dished out in grants to groups and. Individuals who want cash for music-related projects, with requests already submitted. The remainder of the

money is to be used to continue the momentum of Sound City through the year, with a possibility of further specially-promoted gigs. Despite some gripes from audiences about high ticket prices and bar arrangements, the use of Tramway was regarded by Sound City and the venue itself as a success. The council, which owns the venue, is known to be keen to broaden Tramway’s appeal to audiences beyond its traditional constituency of contemporary theatre and art. Rock music fits the bill and discussions are due to begin with promoters about future gigs at there.

‘This is an opportunity as far as we’re concerned,’ says Valerie Edmond, Tramway’s special events organiser. ‘Sound City has been inspirational in showing us what’s posible. It’s useful to have a different age group in the building and it’s Important that there’s that kind of

energy.’ Edmond is particularly keen to see music events which fit in with Tramway’s reputation for cutting-edge theatre and visual arts.

Virtually all Tramway concerts sold out and around 10,000 people attended gigs and seminars during the week, according to John Williamson, Sound City’s publicity co-ordinator. Williamson believes Sound City was particularly successful at raising Glasgow bands’ profile with American labels, and at least one Scottish band - Murmur signed a US deal.

With the departure of Radio 1 and the London-based music media, Sound City will inevitably have a lower profile for the rest of the year, but Williamson is hopeful that the continuing community programme, some of which appeared a bit token during the main week, will be given more prominence. (Eddie Gibb)

4 The List 22 April—5 May 1994