Our History

Outspoken Arts Scotland Ltd is the legacy of a movement that began with the foundation of the Glasgay! Festival in 1993, founded as a direct response the Section 28 legislation banning the promotion of homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.

Glasgay! launched on Saturday 30th October 1993. This lesbian and gay arts festival was the innovation of Cordelia Ditton, well known in national arts scene as a performer, writer, and co-director of Gay Sweatshop. The introduction of Section 28 in 1988 galvanised a whole new era of political and public agitation and resulted also in the founding in 1989 of the influential national lobbying group Stonewall.

Ditton herself had been involved in the campaign against Section 28. Ditton recognised that important local organisations such as the Glasgow branch of Switchboard already existed. However, it was her idea that a lesbian and gay arts festival, would make the lesbian and gay communities of Glasgow more visible. In 1991 she joined forces with Glasgow-based freelance arts administrator Dominic D’Angelo. Both were determined to to produce an arts festival that would show gay lifestyles and performers and work in a very, very positive light. The mission was to change public opinion about lesbian and gay people and to show the wealth of amazing work that was out there.

The 1993 Festival opened to huge acclaim garnering audiences of just over 26,000 attenders. However, there were hateful campaigns in the press, from Tory Councillors and members of the public de-crying the use of public money on such gay art. This backlash and the difficulties it faced caused two years of festival blackout – 1994 and 1996.

In 1995 Cordelia and Dominic stepped down and a new board of directors was convened and the charity Gala Scotland Ltd established. This company then carried forward the legacy and produced the festival from 1995 to 2014.

In its history the festival worked with many of the top gay and lesbian artists in the world. Names such as Sir Ian McKellen, Simon Fanshawe, Donna McPhail, Edwin Morgan, Jackie Kay, Rhona Cameron, Annie Sprinkle, Penny Arcade, Bette Bourne, Diamanda Galas, Neil Bartlett, Scott Capurro, Pam Ann, Four Poofs and a Piano, Lypsinka, Louise Welsh, Marc Almond, Alan Carr, Zoe Strachan, Stewart Laing, and John Waters are amongst the many others that have graced the festival stages.

The work of the festival was always dominated by the prevailing social climate in terms of acceptance, tolerance and understanding of LGBT rights, equality and the march of progress. That social progress has resulted in the repealing of Section 28 of the Government Act 1998; the Civil Partnership Act (2004) and The Equality Act (2010).
Glasgay! artists across the generations have presented work in various artforms that continually reflect social attitudes, behaviours and experiences of the LGBT community. The Glasgay! Festival was a place where LGBT life was acknowledged, celebrated and understood.

Over the 21 years of its history the festival was funded mainly on a year to year basis by the Scottish Arts Council and, subsequently its successor, Creative Scotland and Glasgow City Council. From 2007 to 2014 it enjoyed regular 3 year funding agreements from the Scottish Arts Council/Creative Scotland. In 2015 the Company was unsuccessful in its bid to become a new RFO client and the Board was asked to consider the future of the festival without the support of Creative Scotland.

The Company was also asked to consider its national role as a promoter of equality and the broader protected characteristics. It was clear that whilst the festival clearly enjoyed strong support in Glasgow the need to spread the message of equality, particularly to outer-lying communities was the principal challenge. The Company agreed to enter a period of funding transition and the board took the bold step of retiring the festival and renaming the charity, rebranding and re-purposing the mission.

The name Outspoken Arts Scotland was chosen to reflect the campaigning roots of the festival as legacy of a movement. A new mission was adopted to work in outerlying communities and to work across all, or most, of the protected characteristics. This transition period lasted for nearly two years 2015-2017 and the Company delivered a number of projects across that period.

The Company continues to be funded by Creative Scotland & Glasgow City Council and since 2018 by Renfrewshire Council.

Archives

The entire administrative, artistic, press & PR archive of the Glasgay! Festival 1993-2014 was transferred to Glasgow University’s Scottish Theatre Archive in Spring 2018.  This archive is still being catalogued and documented but reference to it should eventually appear at this link. http://special.lib.gla.ac.uk/STA/search/

 

See this link for Commissions, productions, presentations and a list of artists/companies who appeared.

Appendix N – Our History 1993-2014

Ajamu Ikwe-Tyehimba

Ajamu Ikwe-Tyehimba
British artist
b.1963
Huddersfield, Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council, West Yorkshire, Yorkshire and the Humber
Residence:  London, Greater London, London, England

Biography
Ajamu X (born Huddersfield, 1963) is a British artist, curator, archivist and activist. He best known for his fine art photography, which explores same-sex people and the Black male body, and his work as an archivist and activist to document the lives and experiences of black LGBTQ people in the UK.

Early life and work
Ajamu was born in Huddersfield to Jamaican parents. He studied Black History and photography in Leeds. While in Leeds he and two friends, created the magazine BLAC, an acronym for Black Liberation Activist Core. In October 1987, after seeing it advertised in the newspaper Caribbean Times, Ajamu attended the first, and only, National Black Gay Men’s Conference held at the Black Lesbian and Gay Centre in Camden. By January the following year, he had moved to London. He was given the name Ajamu in 1991; it means “he who fights for what he believes”.

My name Ajamu X is a reference to Malcolm X who was my first key role model. Changing my name to an African one was very significant. — Ajamu X

His first major exhibition Black Bodyscapes, in 1994, focused on the realities of black gay men. More recent projects include Fierce: Portraits of Young Black Queers. an exhibition of 24 portraits of a “…new generation of Black and proudly out young, emerging and established talent” at London’s Guildhall Art Gallery in 2014 and I Am For You Can Enjoy with Khalil West, at Contact Theatre, Manchester, in 2016, which uses photography and video, to explore the lives of queer Black people. Ajamu has described himself as an “artist who has created an archive” and, in addition to his art practice, continues to document black LGBT experiences.

“Write and record everything you do; no-one is going to write our histories for us.” — Ajamu X

In 2000 Ajamu and Topher Campbell co-founded rukus! Federation an ” arts company dedicated to celebrating and showcasing the best in challenging, provocative works by black lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender artists nationally and internationally.” Ajamu was the Archive Manager “The Black LGBT Archive Project”, a major initiative to develop an archive collection on “Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans-Gender heritage, history and lived experience in the UK”. In 2008 Ajamu co-curated the exhibition Outside Edge: a journey through Black lesbian and gay history at the Museum of Docklands. The rukus! Black Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Cultural Archive was deposited at London Metropolitan Archives in 2010.

His fine art photography is in national and international collections including the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow, Autograph ABP, and the Neuberger Museum of Art in New York. Ajamu is co-chair of Centred, an LGBTQ community organisation, in London’s Soho.

Selected exhibitions
2016 Khalil West and Ajamu – I Am For You Can Enjoy, Contact Theatre, Manchester (4 February – 18 June 2016)
2013 Fierce – Portraits of Young Black LGBTQ people by Ajamu, Guildhall Art Gallery, London
2012 Future Histories, Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow
2011 Queer Self Portraits Now, Fred, London
2010 Photoshow, Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, New York
2009 Familiar Strangers, Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow
2004 Hidden Histories, Walsall New Art Gallery,England
1997 Transforming the Crown, Caribbean Cultural Centre, New York.
1994 Black Bodyscapes, Camerawork, London
1992 From Where I Stand, Brixton Art Gallery, London

As Curator:

2016 Curatorial Resident, Visual AIDS, New York
2008 Outside Edge: a journey through black British lesbian and gay history, Museum of Docklands, London
“Khalil West and Ajamu – I Am For You Can Enjoy”. Contact Theatre. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
“Queer Self Portraits Now”. Artlyst. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
Eddie Chambers (29 July 2014). Black Artists in British Art: A History since the 1950s. I.B.Tauris. ISBN 978-0-85773-608-6.
^ Melanie Keen; Elizabeth Ward; Institute of International Visual Arts (1996). Recordings: a select bibliography of contemporary African, Afro-Caribbean and Asian British art. Institute of International Visual Arts and Chelsea College of Art and Design. p. 44. ISBN 978-1-899846-06-1.
“Introducing 2016 Visual AIDS Curatorial Resident Ajamu”. Visual AIDS. 17 February 2016. Retrieved 13 April 2016.
“Who works on an exhibition like Outside Edge?”. Museum of London – blog. Retrieved 13 April 2016.

A-Z of Past Artists

OUR TOP 400 ARTISTS APPEARING SINCE 1993

Please note some leading artists listed below are separately listed with their own detailed entry. This archive is still under construction.

Patience Agbabi
Andrew Agnew
Scott Agnew
Ken Alexander
Rachel Amy
Alisa Anderson
Pam Ann
John Antiss
Penny Arcade
Robyn Archer
Fernando Arias
Andy Arnold
Tina Ayars
Maria Bakker
Ida Barr
Russell Barr
Margaret Barron
Dianne Barry
Neil Bartlett
Tommy Bastow
Rikki Beadle-Blair
Sawnay Bean
Sebastian Beaumont
Graham Bell
Colin Bell
Alan Bennett
John Binnie
Claudia Bliss
Rabbi Lionel Blue
Suzanne Bonnar
Tristan Borrer
Bette Bourne
Matthew Bourne
Lorraine Bowen
Christopher Bowen
Cathie Boyd
Charlene Boyd
Fraser Boyle
Oliver Braid
Raymond Branton
Monica Brett-Crowther
Lucinda Broadbent
Lorna Brooks
Stuart Brown
Andrea Brown
Laurie Brown
Peter Burton
Tina C
Yvonne Caddell
Rosana Cade
Daniel Cahill
Gowan Calder
Stephen Callaghan
Susan Calman
Jenny Campbell
Bob Cant
Scott Capurro
Alan Carr
Michael Cashman
Paul Chaal
Angela Chadfield
Margaret Cho
Company Chordelia
Emilyn Claid
Jo Clifford
Jackie Clune
Alun Cochrane
Richard Conlon
Amy Conroy
Michael Crookes
Carmen Cuenca
Helen Cuinn
Gram Cumming
Nicola Daley
Julia Darling
Divine David
Toni Davidson
Marcelo De Melo
Tam Dean Burn
Christopher Deans
Alistair Dearie
Bruce Devlin
Ann-Marie di Mambro
Kate Dickie
Jack Dickson
Emma Donoghue
Rebecca Donohue
Claire Dowie
Stella Duffy
Stephen Duffy
John Epperson – Lypsinka
Simon Fanshawe
David Ferrard
Leslie Finlay
Simon Fisher Turner
Gracey Flair
Donovan Flynn
Tim Fountain
Allen Frame
Rachel Frances Sharpe
Helena Fraser
Toni Frutin
Diamanda Galas
Patrick Gale
Ellen Galford
Madame Galina
Viv Gee
Paul Godfrey
Isolde Godfrey
Kerry Godliman
Pauline Goldsmith
Helena Goldwater
Richard Good
John Grant
Richard Greenberg
Lisa Gregan
Alan Greig
Noel Greig
Godfrey Hamilton
Ellie Harrison
P-P Hartnett
Joey Hateley
Giles Havergal
Matthew Hawkins
Iain Heggie
Barry Henderson
Nelson Henricks
Craig Hill
Christopher Hodgson
James Holmes
Lucy Holmes-Elliot
Sophie Holmes-Elliot
Adrian Howells
David Hoyle
Kamal Hussain
Lucy Hutson
The Irrepressibles
Derek Jarman
Sean Tuan John
David Paul Jones
Barb Jungr
Rachel Jury
Jackie Kay
David Kay
Dillie Keane
Deborah Kelly
Johnny Kerr
Kris Kesiak
Bryony Kimmings
Paul Kindersley
David Kinloch
Bernard Krichefski
Mark Kydd
Robin Laing
Gregor Laird
Amy Lamé
Gary Lamont
Gary & Larry Lane
Carol Laula
Sadie Lee
Harris Lees
Shaun Levin
Martin Lewton
James Ley
Kathleen Little
Liz Lochhead
Simon Lovat
Maggie Lovell
Rosie Lugosi
Zoe Lyons
Eilidh MacAskill
Cyndra MacDowall
Simon Machabelli
Jane Mackay
Bridge Markland
Camille Marmié
Dani Marti
Ruth Martin
Ursula Martinez
Jonathan Mayor
Patsy McArthur
Val McDermid
Bob McDevitt
Grant Alexander McDonald
Horse McDonald
Kathy McKean
Sir Ian McKellen
Andrew McKinnon
Johnny McKnight
Garry McLaughlin
Kirstin McLean
Derek McLuckie
Alan McPartlan
Donna McPhail
Alan McPike
Matthew McVarish
Lorenzo Mele
Robert Melling
Sarah Milican
Tim Miller
Kenny Miller
Wendy Miller
Joseph Mills
Snookie Mono
Steffi Moore
Edwin Morgan
Magnus Mork
Susan Morrison
Julia Morrison
James Morrow
Richard Move
Alexandra Muirhead
Lady Munter
Keara Murphy
Terry Neason
Mrs Barbara Nice
Ian Nulty
Cathal O Searcaigh
Paul O’Connor
Martin O’Connor
Belinda O’Hooley
Tamsin Omond
Adura Onashile
Lynne O’Neill
David Oswald
Robert Pacitti
David Paisley
Anya Palmer
Colin Parr
Andy Paterson
Vivian Pedley
Alison Peebles
Stephen Petronio
Ros Phillips
Mark Pinkosh
Judith Plint
Chloe Poems
Jon Pope
Eric Presland
Andrew Printer
David Rankine
Ian Reekie
Helen Reeves
Jade Reidy
Jenny Roberts
Craig Robertson
Abbe Robinson
Kieran Rose
Yiannis Roussakis
Sam Rowe
Laurance Rudic
Gina Ryan
Edwin Sanchez
Helen Sandler
Tom Sapsford
Louise Scott
Amanda Scott
Errin Scrutton
Paulita Sedgewick
Dmitry Ser
Neil Shackleton
Peggy Shaw
Ian Shepherd
Menelas Siafakis
Paul Singh
Grant Smeaton
Ali Smith
Matthew Smith
Salon Society
Annie Sprinkle
Al Start
Alan Steele
Zoe Strachan
Clare Summerskill
JoJo Sutherland
Vari Sylvester
Peter Tatchell
Drew Taylor
Clare Teal
Stephanie Theobald
Warwick Thompson
Andrew Tobert
Ernesto Tomasini
Diane Torr
Lucy Trend
Susan Triesman
David Trullo
Suzie Ungerleider
Tom Urie
Phillippa Vafadari
Bert Van Gorp
Estelle van Warmelo
Stephen Vargas
Anita Vettesse
Mauricio Virgens
Vanity Von Glow
Patrick Wallace
Lois Weaver
Tom Wells
Louise Welsh
Mark Whitelaw
Rosie Wilby
Natalie Wilson
Lanford Wilson
Barry Wolfe
Jonny Woo
Jason Wood
Graeme Woolaston
William Yang
Atta Yaqub
Maureen Younger
Sandy Taylor Trio
Deborah Kelly
Tina Fiveash
7:84 Theatre Co. Scotland
Acoustic Affair
Barrowlands
Belle Star Band
Borderline Theatre Co.
Borders Books
Bourgeois & Maurice
Byre Theatre
CCA
Citizens’ Theatre
Clyde Unity Theatre
Confab
Cottier Theatre
DJ Hushpuppy
Duckie & The Readers Wifes
Earthfall
English Touring Theatre Company
Fotofeis
Gallery of Modern Art
Gay Sweatshop
Gay Times and DIVA
Gillmorehill Center for Theatre, Film and Television
Glasgow Film & Video Workshop
Glasgow LGBT Centre
Glasgow Museums
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Glasseyed
Glenmorangie Glasgow Jazz Festival
Goncalo Ferreira De Almeida
Hopscotch Theatre Company
Lock Up your Daughters
Marimacha Band
Markee De Saw & Bert Finkle
MCT Theatre Company
Mika & Rietta
Move It Productions
Mr Helium & The Holy Gliders
Nonsuch Productions
Our Story Scotland
Pacitti Co.
Paisley Arts Centre
Pantomime Productions
Paul MacAlindin
Playwright’s Studio Scotland
Queer Up North
Ramshorn Theatre
Random Accomplice
Recoat Collective
Royal National Theatre
RSAMD and the Bi-G-Les Youth Group
Ruby Tuesday Productions
Scottish Ensemble
Scottish Screen
Sindy and Barbie
Slack Dynamics Theatre
Soundsfine
Split Britches
St Brides Episcopal Church
Starving Artists
Stephen Duffy Big Band
Stonewall
Strathclyde Theatre Group
Street Level Photoworks
Syrkus
Tangerine Productions
The Arches
The Creative Martyrs
The Mrs Reilly Company
The Redettes
The Stand Comedy Club
Thunder Productions
TransAction Theatre Company
Tron Theatre
Waterstone’s
West Lothian Youth Theatre
X-Factor Dance Company
X-Tant Theatre

A Tribute to Adrian Howells 1962-2014

Adrian Howells was rightly so a legend amongst theatre makers in Glasgow and London.  I first met Adrian in Glasgow in 2004 not long after becoming the new Festival Producer of Glasgay!.  Adrian was artist in residence at The Arches and our friends there, Jackie Wylie, LJ and Niall Walker were supporting Adrian in the creation and staging of Adrienne’s Dirty Laundry Experience.  Set in one of the basement spaces Adrian had set up a show that met you at the door with the sound and smells of small backstreet laundry.  In his inimitable style you were welcomed and offered a little light refreshment, if not a cup of a tea and a sticky finger. A stock phrase of his that we often exchanged when we agreed to meet on occasions.  Adrian was a master of the subtle double entendre and a wistful knowing glance.  My burning memory of that first show was sharing a hearty laugh with my fellow laundry inmates as Adrienne emptied out her wash bag of laundry only to reveal a large pair of “chocolate” stained mens undies and ask “well I wonder who brought these?”. For my part I had taken a small tight-fitting t-shirt bought in Bangkok in 1999 during a round-the-world trip and asked Adrienne if she could wash me back into it as a slimmer model.  Adrian as ever said “it’s all allowed”. And so over a few nights in a dark winter festival Adrienne took hold and warmed our hearts with her generosity.

Of course Adrienne was a flamboyant mask for the inner gay man.  Adrian was a quiet, determined person who always brought out the best in his audience.  While he shared sometimes painful memories you were allowed to recognise and share similar experiences.  His childhood and his adult relationships seemed to be peppered with heart-rending accounts of failed love, longing, rejection and loss, and for many gay men in his audiences these experiences were commonplace.  He created a space for us that simply did not exist  – a confessional – a ministry of the heart – in an otherwise aggressively heterosexual world that cared little for gay men.  The magic of Adrian was he bridged those worlds, creating love, respect and understanding of issues amongst his audiences.

Over the years he evolved as much as equality and society’s appreciation of human sexuality progressed.  I remember one artists talk he gave at CCA when asked by a young contemporary practice student “why he couldn’t perform without the mask of Adrienne”.  Adrian in his ever pithy style stated “but darling I’ve done years of Panto”.  We all laughed but it was soon after that Adrienne was put to bed.  However not before Adrian’s success in that creation led to a commission by Julie Parker at the Drill Hall London to create “An Audience with Adrienne“.  It was the culmination of years of intimate shows and played to sell out houses in London’s Drill Hall in March 2006.  The show gave him an enlarged canvas to display his love of memorabilia be it social and ever so personal, from the framed photos of childhood heroes, to the favourite LP’s and 45’s, the kitsch carpets and wallpaper, the trinkets, the trivia and the multifarious paraphernalia he had gathered over a lifetime.  They all told a story, held a memory and added to the power of his collective experience and sharing.  Adrian kindly agreed to re-create the show for Glasgay! in Autumn 2006 and in a little Saltmarket studio he worked his magic at every performance.

Adrian Howells was many things, a wonderful artist, a friend to us all, a gatherer and a sharer.  He was generous to a fault and gave of himself so utterly and freely.  His legacy is in all of those who shared in his life and experiences and the business of show is perhaps a little sadder and more serious without him.  He was much-loved and even if the arts are a hard mistress his death reminds of the glorious worlds he created, the joy of being together and the simple act of sharing.  He will be missed greatly by many.

for Adrian xxx

Steven Thomson, Producer

Tributes

The Guardian  |  The Herald  |  The List  |  The Scotsman

 

Tina C

American Country Music Singer, British Comedian, Actor, Cabaret Performer, Political Satirist