Artists tour Scotland looking for a Yes to independence

Musicians, actors, artists and writers embark on a concert tour under the banner ‘Yestival’

Fri, Aug 8, 2014, 01:01

Today, he says it has 3,000 full members and plans for life after the referendum.

“Artists are used to taking risks, they are used to imagining something new. Change is not seen as a threat,” he says, dripping with rain.

Even the devil has been drawn into the referendum battle, featuring in a play at the Edinburgh Fringe as Black Donald where he describes manufacturing the 1707 Union with England as “my greatest hit”.

Like many others in Scotland’s artistic community, actress/model Eunice Olumide (27) was drawn to the Yes side “because of the aggressive negativity of those on the other side, who never have anything positive to say”.

Raised by Nigerian parents in Glasgow, she says: “I never learned anything good about Scottish until I went to study in the University of Pennsylvania in America.

“Britain is not as good as people think, the Trainspotting culture is real,” she declares.

For now, such artists have a voice, but it is not clear if they have an audience, even though many Scots are looking for guidance from non-political quarters, since they despair of getting clarity from politicians.

Different voices

Groups such as National Collective and the left-wing Radical Independence Campaign illustrate the different voices on the Yes side, even if the Scottish National Party is the one most often heard.

Interestingly, much of what the SNP has done in office – its desire for lower corporation taxes, for example, or Alex Salmond’s cautious independence – is disliked intensely.

By now, the rain in Stirling has got heavier, leading organiser Zara Kitson to take up the microphone to offer plastic ponchos hurriedly bought from the tourist office.

“They are all emblazoned with the logo of the monument to William Wallace, but take no notice. It is not because we are nationalists, but because we are internationalists,” she declares, to cheers.

“People are voting No for selfish reasons, because they are scared,” says recently married Ms McFadyen (29), who works in Edinburgh University.

“I don’t care if we are economically poorer, as long as we have control over our own country and have to take responsibility for our own mistakes.”

Many in Scotland’s cultural world would agree. Even if they are inspired by such attitudes, it is as yet far from clear whether the rest of Scotland is ready to follow their lead.

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