Hero Worship: LeithLate Special

LeithLate event curator <strong>Morvern Cunningham</strong> presents an ode to the women who've inspired her in her profession of choice

Feature by Morvern Cunningham | 15 Jun 2011
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Why would anyone choose to work in the arts, particularly in ‘today’s economic climate’? It’s notoriously underpaid, staff are generally overworked and often expected to be there purely ‘for the love of it’.  Because it's staffed with some truly inspirational people, that's why, people I've found who propel me on to organise events and create opportunities and – yes – do my job for the love of it. 

One such person is Shiona Wood, the vivacious and huge personality of the Filmhouse’s one-time Education Officer, whom I met towards the end of her vibrant and sparkling life. Regarding (quite rightly) that an important aspect of her job was to conduct post-screening discussions and question and answer sessions, Shiona would engage her audiences as much as the film she was addressing. Shiona taught me that the power of art is when it connects with an audience, and that sometimes to reach a wider reception, that art needs an ambassador. She was definitely an ambassador!

Another great inspiration is Jools Walls, who ran Fringe Sunday (and other large-scale events) for many years until funding from the Fringe and its sponsors sadly dried up. Fringe Sunday was a massive event, attracting around a quarter of million people to the Meadows in the space of one day, giving the general public (locals and tourists alike) an importantly free flavour of some of the myriad shows available to them over August, from comedians to cabaret, kid’s shows to physical theatre. Jools showed what can be achieved when a large bunch of people work together towards a common goal.

These are just two of the faces who demonstrate  the importance of democratic engagement with the arts. I’ve also learned personally that we need to seek out and create our own opportunities, rather than wait for them to arrive. What would I say my philosophy is when it comes to the arts? Be bold and think big!  And you can see what I mean by joining me at LeithLate on 16 June.

LeithLate is on 16 Jun, in various venues on Leith Walk. You'll find full details of the programme and a handy map here