New Year pass launched

IF YOU WANT to see in the New Year in Edinburgh’s city centre, you'd better have the correct papers. The annual Hogmanay street party, which has risen to become one of the biggest New Year celebrations in the world, will be restricted this year and passes will provide the only means of accessing the event area after 8pm on 31 December.

The affected area stretches from the west end of Princes Street to Calton Hill, and from George Street to George N Bridge and South Bridge.

The pass scheme has been introduced to limit attendance to 180,000 after last year’s event, which attracted 300,000 revellers, was felt to have been dangerously overcrowded.

Residents of the event area, who are on the electoral roll, will automatically receive two passes each, which should be posted out by the end of November.

Entertainment on the night has not yet been announced. Watch out for details in the next issue of The List. (Peter Ross)

I Order Street Party passes (max. four per application) from the Hogmanay Box Office at 21 Market Street, Edinburgh, by post or fax on 0137 473 2003.

Downer for drug study

GROUND-BREAKING SCOTTISH research into the long-term effects of Ecstasy on the brain is in jeOpardy because researchers are unable to find enough people who haven‘t taken the drug.

The year-long study, being conducted at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, is to compare brain scans of healthy, young, male Ecstasy users with a control group of non-users.

'We are looking for people who do use recreational drugs, including speed and cannabis,’ said researcher Dr David Semple. ‘However the chances of people who have used speed not having tried Ecstasy are fairly slim.’

However, Semple does not believe the lack of subjects coming forward for the control group indicates that a whole generation of recreational drug users have all tried Ecstasy. He points out that his advertising has been aimed largely at Ecstasy users and that, in addition, non- users do not have as much investment in the results of his research.

Although 100 people have contacted the study, not all are suitable. Participants need to be male, existing recreational drug users between the ages of eighteen and 3S and must not have a history of psychiatric problems or head injuries. (Thom Dibdin)

I Dr David Semple can be contacted, in complete confidence on 0131 537 6873.

22 TIIEIJST 7—20 Nov 1997

Students challenge Labour to grudge match

SCOTTISH STUDENTS ARE confident of forcing a Government U-turn over plans to introduce tuition fees following a show of strength this week.

The National Union of Students (NUS) claims 6000 supporters turned out for its demonstration last weekend, more than at any of the thirteen parallel demonstrations around the UK.

’We are still expecting them to scrap their plans,’ said NUS Scotland president, Shamin Akhtar. ’This is no longer a student issue but an issue that the whole community feels very strongly about.’

Following the demonstration, NUS will keep up the pressure with a series of actions before the end of the year, including the ’time bomb’ campaign, which will involve 'outing' MPs supporting student fees.

’We believe a lot of MPs are complacent,’ Akhtar explained. 'They have a huge majority, and know that many students will have moved on by the next election. We will make sure their voting records are brought to the attention of a new batch of student voters.’

The NUS will target schools, parents and industry in a week of action from

1—5 December. It believes tuition fees will deter students from less priviliged families from entering higher education, and leave all students graduating with the burden of heavy debts.

However, Scottish Education Minister Brian Wilson defended the Government’s plans. 'There is nothing in the proposals to deter students from low income backgrounds,’ he said. '40% of ScottiSh students will not be asked to pay a penny in fees, while virtually all graduates will be repaying less each month than they are at present.’ (Stephen Naysmith)

Book festival pinning hop

DEVOLUTION, CHILDREN AND the millennium are among the pet subjects of Faith Liddell, new director of Edinburgh’s Book Festival.

Liddell takes over later this month from previous director Jan Fairley, with barely nine months remaining before the next festival in August 98.

The short time scale is a challenge rather than a pressure, Liddell argues. ’The fact that it is now annual offers huge opportunities. In the past, there has been a sense of having to start over again every two years,’ she said. ’Now there will be a chance to really link in to the four other festivals for ideas and for audiences.’

Hailed as a ’renaissance woman’ by the board which appointed her, Liddell previously worked for the book festival as press officer before a spell as a freelance arts and events manager, with involvement in Edinburgh events, including the Fringe and Hogmanay.

One of the tasks Liddell is charged

Liddell: ‘renaissance woman'

with is ’rebuilding bridges’ following this summer's event which, despite a strong programme, ran less than smoothly.

Liddell responds; ’I think the main problem was one of communication. Hopefully, that IS my forte,’

She particularly hopes to build on the young audience, attracting more schools and family audiences. ’The

s on Faith

pleasure of books to children and the importance of reading offer huge opportunities,’ she explained.

She also sees the book festival as a catalyst for debate and exploration, with meet-the-author events making readers more adventurous when they visit the retail sections of the site.

With the millennium approaching, the festival has a chance to exploit the breadth of contemporary writing, she adds. ’Last year, Ben Okri gave a lecture focusing on the millennium and its potential for inspiration. But every writer, from historians and novelists to poets and science fiction, will have a different perspective.’

Meanwhile, the populist element will still be strong, she insists. 'I love the idea of people talking about books and what they mean to them. I’m completely addicted to books and my notion is that the festival should be a celebration of reading on a grand scale.’ (Stephen Naysmith)

Fruitmarket scoops plum prize

EDINBURGH'S FRUITMARKET GALLERY has won a prestigious arts award for its work in promoting innovative, creative and accessible art.

The Prudential Awards aim to recognise the best non-profit making arts organisations in the UK, and the Fruitmarket came top in the visual arts

category in a year when there was a record number of entries.

The gallery’s to receive £50,000 to help it develop new and innovative work in the future, as well as a sculpture by the artist Christy Keeney. It was the only Scottish winner, although in 1995 Glasgow’s Tramway

Fruitmarket: record attendances during Edinburgh Festival ‘96

won in the same category.

Fruitmarket Gallery director Graeme Murray said the award was for a team effort, and that he was delighted given the strength of the other entrants. ’We are trying to stimulate culture with the best information available in contemporary terms,’ he said. 'It gives you a good feeling when your efforts are recognised.’

The judges were particularly impressed by the gallery's Northern Lights project, a public art proposal which secured lottery funding of £162,000 and events linking in with the Edinburgh Science Festival. The Fruitmarket is currently running a lecture series exploring one of the themes of that festival genetics. Gina Kolata, American author of C/one: The Making of Dolly, speaks about the infamous cloned sheep on Thursday 13 November at the Fruitmarket. (Stephen Naysmith)

l Gina Ko/ata is featured in this issue’s The Write Stuff, page 705. See Book events, page 708.