A Scottish independence campaign that is focused on live experiences is crucial

As the new format of the Scottish Convention “This Is It” passes £100,000 in donations, I urge them, The SNP, and the Scottish Government to start to plan and consider how live experiences will shape and win the next Scottish independence campaign.

I’ve recently returned from a speaking slot at the “Oscars for the events industry” the EUBEA World Festival, which took place in small, beautiful, fiercely independent Portugal. The awards were held in the historic city, once the capital and seat of the Portuguese Royal Family: Coimbra. And I would thoroughly recommend a visit!

scottish independence events
Beautiful, truly historic Coimbra in Portugal.

There were shortlisted events from Kazakhstan, Latvia, Finland, Russia, Italy, Czech Republic, Poland, Netherlands, England, Spain, Portugal and around a dozen more countries.

There was no event from Scotland. In fact, I was the sole Scottish representative on the entire three day festival programme. 

Here’s how other countries celebrate their events

Entries are made primarily by event agencies and like most other sectors of the UK the heart of that industry is in London. So perhaps it’s no great surprise that Scottish agencies weren’t represented, however, it is surely bizarre that non one event took place in Scotland in the last 12 months that the organisers thought would merit a place on the short list?

It’s depressing seeing other countries use live experiences to launch, extend and amplify campaigns or to use them to share the awesomeness of their work or their culture.

Have a look at a few of the events that I have picked out and then think, why doesn’t Scotland do anything like this?

Great engineering works are opened with campaigns that try to activate every part of society, with the aim of raising awareness and pride in their success as the Turkmenbashi International Seaport Opening Ceremony shows.

Important cultural events are marked with extravagant celebrations, bringing a whole country together in a shared and uplifting experience as demonstrated by Scarlet Sales 50 year anniversary in Russia.

Cultural buildings have a new lease of life injected by live experiences as demonstrated by Lisbon Under The Stars.

But back to Scotland

Think of a significant event, like the opening of the Queensferry Crossing and check out OUR opening ceremony.  It’s an obsequious, pompous, 50p show. It seems to celebrate the Royal Family more than it celebrates Scotland, the red arrows even pump out Red, Blue and White smoke. 

If you spend £1.35 billon on something don’t be ashamed to properly celebrate its completion. Be proud of it. Brush off the abuse that comes from celebrating the hard work and endeavour of our Nation.

Another example to look at is the  opening of the V&A Dundee Museum of Design. The opening ceremony was “given” to the BBC. It was a broadcast with editorial decisions made, presumably in London. Is this really controlling how the world sees Scotland?

We either do it badly on the cheap or we ask the BBC to do it for us. Who is really happy with either of those options?

As you can see when the Scottish Government is in charge it lacks the chutzpah to do it properly and the BBC is clearly now a British State Broadcaster unable to properly reflect the interests of Scotland.

So what should we be doing as we lead up to a Scottish independence campaign?

Judging by the entries at the EUBEA World Festival and knowing the skills and the resources available in Scotland, we seem uniquely placed as a country, a government and a people unable to celebrate pride in our success and traditions in the full glare of the world.

So how do we currently celebrate our cultural days like St. Andrew’s day or Highland Gatherings, or the scores of cultural events that are never supported to rise about the noise of every day life? Or how do we bring to life buildings that sit empty like the Cathedrals in St. Andrews or Dunkeld (“Scotland Under The Stars” anyone?)

We don’t. Because we are not realising the true power of live experiences. 

And because of this ignorance, I fear for the next Scottish independence campaign.

We are all too aware of the bias of the media and we know that, as an independent Scotland is likely this time, that it will be much more forceful in its “better together in our precious union” So how do we counter that MSM bias?

The only real option is to develop events at every level that speak to those living in Scotland and abroad. Events that shout with a loud and determined voice: Scotland has its own voice because it is a Nation.

We all cringe at the now almost ubiquitous Scottish cringe. Some people seems totally unable to celebrate anything in Scotland! And others are simply minded to denigrate anything positive.

Asking how did we get here ? should be a question for many of the country’s sociologists, political scientists and psychologists, but they probably think that we aren’t worth studying. Cringe!

However there are many Scots, and for sure, the vast majority of Scots in the yes movement, who swell with pride and want to shout our success from the top of the highest mountains. But that voice does not travel unless it is amplified.

As the new format of the Scottish Convention “This Is It” passes £100,000 in donations I urge them to start to plan and consider how live experiences will shape and win the next campaign. The Scottish Government must discover the power of live. As ever I am willing to help.

“A tremendous milestone for the country, and testament to how events can support cultural change in a country” is how one of the entries at EUBEA World closed their pitch. Exactly. So what are we going to do about it?

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