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

Liz Carruthers’ Voices of the Vulnerable

Our penultimate Q&A is with the amazing Liz Carruthers, who will be directing Glasgay!‘s production of ALAN BENNETT’S TALKING HEADS. Catch the show at Mitchell Theatre this summer, as part of the Commonwealth Games’ Festival 2014Tickets on sale now!

What drew you to work on this production?

The plays are wonderful and the cast are fantastic. I loved Jill, Kay and Ross in the first Glasgay! production of these brilliant plays a few years back.   I’ve worked with the wonderful Jill Riddiford before and I’m so thrilled that she’s coming back to Scotland to be in the show. I worked with Kay Gallie in 1988 on a production of Whisky Galore and have been trying to work with her again ever since – but she’s always too busy (at least that’s her story…). Ross is a terrific actor as well, and I’m looking forward to working with him for the first time. The rooky in this brand new production is Kirsty McDuff, who is a new young voice in Scottish theatre. They are all going to be delightful!

What is it about Alan Bennett’s monologues and characters that you love?

They are so real and yet so extraordinary. They lead seemingly ordinary lives, but they are looking at what’s happening to them in a completely different way to what we might expect. The characters are often self-deluded, selfish and lonely – but they draw us into their worlds and make us understand them.

How relevant are the issues that Alan Bennett raises to today’s world (i.e. care of the elderly)?

The plays we have chosen introduce us to characters with very modern problems – alcoholism, the loneliness of the elderly, the objectification of women and gay people unable to be open about their lives. All these issues are still current. Bennett gives these people a voice.

What does Alan Bennett tell us about our relationship to other people?

All the characters in the four plays we are doing are flawed and vulnerable. They are very lonely and isolated in very different ways – a woman in a loveless marriage; an elderly woman living alone; a middle-aged gay man co-dependant on his mother and a young aspiring actress unable to accept that the roles she is offered are nothing to do with her acting ability.

Don’t miss ALAN BENNETT’S TALKING HEADS showing at the Mitchell Theatre this summer – book your tickets now to avoid disappointment.

Steven Thomson’s Lovely Peas

Glasgay! Festival Producer Steven Thomson shares his thoughts with us on producing ALAN BENNETT’S TALKING HEADS for Commonwealth Games’ Festival 2014Tickets on sale now!

What drew you to work on this production?

I wanted to re-visit Alan Bennett in his 80th year, as a reminder that the issues raised in his work – such as care of the elderly; loneliness and isolation; family breakdown and abuse and exploitation –still blight our daily news.

What is it about Alan Bennett’s monologues and characters that you love?

What I love about Alan Bennett is that in an everyday, matter-of-fact way he makes normal people critical, relevant and funny. For example, the contrast in A Cream Cracker Under the Settee – the tragedy and humour in Doris’ situation, that she truly believes her care worker can be held accountable for the cream cracker. That the consequences of the cream cracker will make up for the abuse and neglect.

Similarly with A Chip in the Sugar, Graham’s story is that of a middle-aged gay man living at home with an elderly mum. His story is not told, it is lost in the telling of the mother’s Alzheimer’s.  His isolation and loneliness is touched on brilliantly, but fleetingly.

How relevant are the issues that Alan Bennett raises to today’s world (i.e. care of the elderly)?

This is what’s brilliant about Alan Bennett. 30 years ago issues that were hidden behind curtains and closed doors; across avenues and roads, up and down middle Britain, were untold stories. Thankfully today there is an end to that silence, a growing awareness of elderly care; loneliness and isolation. There may be less stigma surrounding these topics but there is still much social change needed.

What does Alan Bennett tell us about our relationship to other people?

Despite these little sad stories of broken relationships, they are a reminder that we need more care, love and respect for the elderly and young.

Have you got a favourite family anecdote that’s similar to Alan Bennett’s view of everyday life?

My mum was a care worker for 20 years, and one of her favourite stories from this period of her life was “Lovely Peas”.

Sadly, not the Norma and John Major Spitting Image of family mealtimes; but a woman who couldn’t remember what she was having for dinner each night. Night after night, she would thank my mum for dinner and comment “These peas are lovely hen”, without any recollection that this was a daily occurrence. It is stories like these that highlight just how tragic living with Alzheimer’s is.

Don’t miss ALAN BENNETT’S TALKING HEADS showing at the Mitchell Theatre this summer – book your tickets now to avoid disappointment.

Kirsty McDuff’s Tough cookie

Kirsty McDuff shares her thoughts with us on performing in ALAN BENNETT’s Her Big Chance, as part of TALKING HEADS. This Glasay! production will be at Mitchell Theatre for Commonwealth Games’ Festival 2014. Tickets on sale now!

What drew you to work on this production?  

Earlier this year I worked with the fabulous director, Liz Carruthers on a production at Oran Mor called “Wake Me in the Morning” (part of a Play, a Pie and a Pint) and around that time she started casting for Talking Heads. I was a little bit familiar with the script and really wanted to be in it, as Lesley. I was delighted to be offered the role.

What is it about Alan Bennett’s monologues and characters that you love?

I think his characters seem really – dare I say it – “normal”. I always find myself thinking “I know someone exactly like that” when I am reading his work. Alan Bennett is incredibly accurate at creating real life people in his characters. This in turn makes it easy for us to identify with them, but throughout the normality there are some really bitter truths which can be quite hard-hitting. The monologues are huge. 30-40 minutes of speaking alone – a kind of poetic stream of consciousness with beautiful rhythms and cadences – (my stomach is currently doing triple somersaults at the thought). A total gift for an actor, but an almighty challenge. The monologues are also a bit like confessions, but I think the most important thing is actually what’s not said.

How relevant are the issues that Alan Bennett raises to today’s world (i.e. care of the elderly)?

The humanity of his characters is timeless and always relevant. It’s the cycle of life.

What does Alan Bennett tell us about our relationship to other people?

That we all –  regardless of sexuality, age or success – can struggle. At any time in life.

Have you got a favourite family anecdote that’s similar to Alan Bennett’s view of everyday life?

I’m not sure about anecdotes but I’m instantly thinking of my great granny.  She was an absolute cracker – completely and utterly adored, she nearly made it to 100! She was a very hard worker. She worked at Hillhouse in Hamilton as a maid and had to go out and milk the cows, but she was scared of the cows so she used to run away from them. Her co-workers used to say “Oh Polly, If you’re as feart fae a man as you ur fae a coo you’ll dae awright”. So my granny took this phrase and said it to us on a weekly basis. The coo could be a mouse, a bird or a spider but I think the point was to stay away from relationships when you are young. As a wee girl I found her fascinating with her hearing aid that squeaked, random Scots rhymes and sayings that fired out of her at any given minute and her rich, rich stories. She’d say “It’ll all be the same a hunner years fae noo” which I think is quite poignant and generally relates the cycle. She was a great believer in “What’s for you won’t go by you” and she didn’t suffer fools gladly.

She used to work at the jam works and took great pride in scouring her pan until she could see her face in it. No-one else got their pan as clean as she did. All the other workers were quite jealous because they didn’t get the same praise my granny did. One day she came in and a woman had swapped the pots so my granny had a dirty one and she began using my granny’s clean one. (This woman was a wee bit higher up than my granny was and had been working there longer). My granny was so angry because she’d taken so much time cleaning her pan that she filled the dirty pan with water and poured it over the woman’s head and said “You can sack me if you like”. But they didn’t. She was there for years. She was a tough cookie ma granny!

Don’t miss ALAN BENNETT’S TALKING HEADS showing at the Mitchell Theatre this summer – book your tickets now to avoid disappointment.

ROSS STENHOUSE’S “Everyday Façade of Normalcy”

We are thrilled to bring you an exclusive Q&A with Ross Stenhouse who will be performing in ALAN BENNETT’s A Chip In The Sugar, as part of TALKING HEADS. This Glasgay! production will be at Mitchell Theatre for the Commonwealth GamesFestival 2014. Book your tickets online now!

What drew you to work on this production?

I was first asked to work on Talking Heads back in 2006 as part of Glasgay at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow.  The show then transferred to the Edinburgh Festival for a highly successful run in 2007.

What is it about Alan Bennett’s monologues and characters that you love?

I think there is an instant recognition for most of us in Bennett’s writing and characters that appeals to people from all walks of life and any geographical area of Britain.  We’ve met these characters or some part of them is us.  Under the surface layer of always brilliant humour, there are increasingly disturbing layers of ridiculousness, poignancy and often tragedy.  No matter how many times I saw Kay Gallie perform Cream Cracker Under the Settee it always brought me to tears.  A tribute to both the writing and Kay’s performance.  Like Victoria Wood he makes the mundane comic and tragic in equal measure.

How relevant are the issues that Alan Bennett raises to today’s world (i.e. care of the elderly)?

The issues that Bennett raises are always intrinsically human and immediately relevant.  To glimpse others’ loneliness, despair, jealousy and self-delusion will always fascinate us as human beings as most of us have been there to some degree at some point in our lives.

What does Alan Bennett tell us about our relationship to other people?

I think he provides great reassurance.  He let’s us see that everyone has complex layers underneath our everyday façade of normalcy.

Have you got a favourite family anecdote that’s similar to Alan Bennett’s view of everyday life?

As a talkative toddler I mortified my mother on an almost daily basis by blethering to anyone within earshot.  Her favourite story is of me cheerfully showing the bus conductor my hanky and telling him it was for my bogies.

Don’t miss ALAN BENNETT’S TALKING HEADS showing at the Mitchell Theatre this summer – book your tickets now to avoid disappointment.

Jill Riddiford’s “Stories about people like my Mam”

Jill Riddiford will be performing in ALAN BENNETT’s A Bed Among The Lentils, as part of TALKING HEADS. This Glasgay! production will be at Mitchell Theatre for the Commonwealth Games’ Festival 2014. Book your tickets now!

What drew you to work on this production?

Hahaha! Because I was asked! But it is a privilege to have the chance to perform Talking Heads.

 What is it about Alan Bennett’s monologues and characters that you love?

Oh! Where to start. I remember when they were first broadcast – the effect they had was astonishing. I was raised in a Northern English tangle of Mams and Aunties and Great Aunties  – ordinary women who only saw themselves  represented on TV and stage as the periphery, the supporting act, the comic turn. To see themselves  as the ‘main character’ was very powerful.  Women and men  who were familiar but overlooked – that woman who died alone and nobody there to help, the bloke who still lives with his mam, a vicar’s wife embarrassing everyone with the drinking, that one there thinking she’s going to be a big star – were brought from the sidelines to the spotlight with compassion and intelligence.

How relevant are the issues that Alan Bennett raises to today’s world (i.e. care of the elderly)?

None of us have immunity from old age or sickness, and Cream Cracker under the Settee reminds us of that.  Society is only as good as the care that it takes of its most vulnerable members.

What does Alan Bennett tell us about our relationship to other people?

Love thy neighbour, I reckon.  Even thy lonely, odd, embarrassing or deluded neighbour.

Have you got a favourite family anecdote that’s similar to Alan Bennett’s view of everyday life?

I know what you are expecting here. Stories of the aunt who painted Tinkerbelle thepoodle pink. The colour-blind uncle peering at tomatoes on the allotment, unsure if they were ripe or not.  The nephew who was a terrible goalie when the boys played football in the back lanes because he wore a tutu and high heels.  But Alan Bennett’s stories are about compassion and love and respect. About the extraordinary beauty of the everyday. About that woman who, at an age when the stairs were already too much for her, uncomplainingly climbed them twenty, thirty times a day for three months to take water, a conversation, morphine, up to her dying husband. Stories about people like my Mam.

Edwin Morgan’s dreams – and other nightmares

A TRON THEATRE PRODUCTION
Originally commissioned by Glasgay!
Written by LIZ LOCHHEAD
Directed by ANDY ARNOLD

TRON THEATRE, 63 TRONGATE, GLASGOW G1 5HB
THU 24 JULY – SAT 2 AUG, 7.45PM
+ SAT 26 JULY + SAT 2 AUG, 2.30PM

BOOK NOW

‘Do you ever wonder if a person could lead two utterly different lives without either self being aware of the other?’

EDWIN MORGAN Edwin Morgan’s last room in a nursing home in the West End of Glasgow.  Everything’s reduced to the barest essentials, just a bed, a wheelchair and a desk.  On a dark ordinary Friday afternoon in winter, middle-aged James, the poet’s biographer, friend and helper, there to do routine admin with the frail eighty-seven year old, hears this urgent question from a deeply disturbed Morgan, who then recounts a series of vivid dreams, nightmares in fact, which have been disturbing him. Images, poems, remembered lovers, regrets, rough trade, propositions accepted or avoided, truths, desires and lives surround the bed.  James, the listener, is disturbed too, trapped in his task like a reluctant interpreter/psychiatrist/amateur Freudian.

Liz Lochhead’s extraordinary tribute to Morgan is both warm and dynamic and ‘a powerful reflection on his modernity and restlessness’ (**** The Scotsman).

Ticket Information  BOOK NOW

TICKETS £12 (£8)
DISCOUNTS: Concessions are available for this event
OFFERS:
Home Nations 2014 | 30% Discount

Buy 3 shows to obtain a discount

Home Nations 2014 | 20% Discount

Buy 2 shows to obtain a discount

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The Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme is a national celebration. Culture 2014 will showcase dance, theatre, music, visual arts, comedy and much more in the run up to and after the Commonwealth Games, with Festival 2014 transforming the Host City at Games time.  The Cultural Programme is a partnership between the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee, Glasgow Life, and Creative Scotland through National Lottery funding.  www.glasgow2014.com/culture

Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads

A rare chance to see four of the original ‘Talking Heads’ – Alan Bennett’s wonderful, legendary 80s television monologues which held the seeds of discomfort of a Britain (and a world) changing beyond recognition. Four individuals trapped behind the net curtains of a fast disappearing society.

**** “outstanding … savagely witty and poignant” The Scotsman

**** “brilliant, tragic confessional … simple but spellbinding” The Herald

Mitchell Theatre
6 Granville Street, Glasgow G3 7DR
Tel 0141 353 8000
Wed 30 Jul – Sat 2 Aug, 7.30pm
+ Thu 31 July & Sat 2 Aug, 2.30pm
Tickets on sale BOOK NOW

A CHIP IN THE SUGAR & A CREAM CRACKER UNDER THE SETTEE:  Wed, 7.30pm; Thu 2.30pm; Sat 7.30pm
HER BIG CHANCE & A BED AMONG THE LENTILS:  Thu 7.30pm, Fri 7.30pm, Sat 2.30pm

Directed by Liz Carruthers
Featuring: Ross Stenhouse, Kay Gallie, Jill Riddiford, Kirsty McDuff

Their stories are poignant, hilarious, sometimes sad, occasionally uplifting, and they all showcase Alan Bennett’s powers of observation, comic timing and exquisite turn of phrase. Bennett may be regarded as a national treasure but the cosiness of that tag belies the darker, harsher, more satirically barbed nature of his work.

Devoted son Graham’s life is turned upside down when a man from mother’s past shows up and deigns to entertain them in a tearoom where there’s “A Chip in the Sugar

Doris’s feisty independence leaves her helpless on the floor where she spies “A Cream Cracker Under the Settee”. But could this water biscuit be her last meal?

Delusional actress Lesley thinks “Her Big Chance” will come just after she’s completed the low-budget semi-porn movie she’s currently shooting.

Disillusioned vicar’s wife Susan’s mid life crisis drives her to the communion wine, the back shop of Mr Ramesh’s grocery store and “A Bed Among the Lentils”.

Ross Stenhouse as Graham in A Chip in The Sugar Kay Gallie as Doris in A Cream Cracker Under the Settee

 

 

 

 

 

Jill Riddiford as Susan in A Bed Among The LentilsKirsty-McDuff-Headshot2

 

 

 

 

 

TALKING HEADS © 1988 is presented with kind permission of Forelake Ltd (Agent: United Agents Ltd, 12-26 Lexington Street, London W1 0LE)

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Festival Logo Colour

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme is a national celebration. Culture 2014 will showcase dance, theatre, music, visual arts, comedy and much more in the run up to and after the Commonwealth Games, with Festival 2014 transforming the Host City at Games time.  The Cultural Programme is a partnership between the Glasgow 2014 Organising Committee, Glasgow Life, and Creative Scotland through National Lottery funding.  www.glasgow2014.com/culture