The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society staged its first ever Made in Scotland Festival Brussels, Belgium on 11 – 14 June 2019. 

Funded by the Scottish Govermnent, the festival was opened by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, and featured a diverse selection of shows from the 10-year history of the Made in Scotland showcase and Onward Touring Fund, which celebrates Scottish theatre, dance and music talent. The shows – opening with the Ian Johnston-starring Dancer and closing with FK Alexander’s (I Could Go On Singing) Over the Rainbow – were staged in six venues across Brussels, with the aims of sharing the joy of the Fringe internationally and introducing homegrown Fringe artists to international audiences and arts industry figures. All shows were completely free to attend.

Several performances were fully subscribed, with audiences made up of Brussels locals as well as invited guests from further afield, while the closing night at Recyclart (co-hosted by party collective Los Niños) featured sets from Lisbon and Brussels-based DJ AAguilAA and Scotland’s Letitia Pleiades. Delegates from The Traverse, Playwrights Studio, National Theatre of Scotland, Birds of Paradise, The Work Room, Summerhall, Creative Scotland and Federation of Scottish Theatre were supported to attend and participate, as were guests from Belgium, Sweden and the Netherlands.

In addition to the performing arts programme, the festival hub at Halles Saint-Géry was a focal point for industry talks, networking, buzzing night-time meet-ups and a gig by WHYTE on one of the evenings. 

The festival successfully helped artists and Scottish organisations build long-term relationships with mainland Europe artists and audiences, particularly our six Belgian partner venues: Recyclart, Halles Saint-Géry, Zinnema, Théatre de la Vie, Beursschouwburg and De Kriekelaar.

Annabel Cooper, Producer of The Gospel According to Jesus Queen of Heaven (which was also staged at the festival), said:
It was a real honour to be representing Scotland in the first Made in Scotland Festival in Brussels. We were especially impressed with the care that was taken in matching our production to our brilliant hosts, Theatre de la Vie, their Artistic Director Peggy and her brilliant team. We feel we’ve made lasting creative partnerships and connected deeply with the audience who were able to enjoy the programme free of charge. We hope this isn’t the last MIS Festival!

Fiona Sturgeon Shea, Director of Playwrights Studio, said:
Thank you so much for involving me in the Made in Scotland Festival in Brussels. It was a real privilege to be there. I made some excellent contacts there – and really deepened my relationships with colleagues here.”

For more information visit the Made in Scotland Festival website.