On site with the Communities Programme at the August Book Festival

This year, we welcomed several groups to the Festival site, held special author visits with our community partners and there were daily Communities Programme events throughout the Festival.
This year, Communities Programme activities were on a scale never seen before at the August Book Festival. Alongside three special showcase events, a daily slot in the Storytime Yurt and a panel event about the future of education, we also welcomed several community groups to the site. Read on to find out more about who we worked with, their experiences of the Book Festival and how to catch up with any events you missed this summer.

Stories and Scran

With Stories and Scran returning to the August Festival for its third year, we were delighted to welcome back Scran Academy to cater our community meal. Scran Academy is a social enterprise that works with young people to teach them catering skills. The Scran team cooked up a three-course feast which our Communities participants enjoyed in the Storytime Yurt while sheltering from the rain.
Yurt with people enjoying their meal

Afterwards, our Citizen writers presented a jam-packed programme of readings, sharing their creative work from the last year. We heard a huge range of exciting new writing, with horror stories by The Citizen Collective, short stories inspired by the natural world from our WHALE Arts writing group, and several thought-provoking reflections from our online Writers’ Group.

If you missed out on Stories & Scran, you can catch up by visiting the event page and clicking ‘Watch Online’.

Scran Academy are our valued partners and we were so pleased to welcome several of their young participants to a ‘meet and greet’ with legendary food writer and campaigner, Jack Monroe, where they discussed food poverty and the cost of living crisis. Reflecting on their visit to the site, Gemma Dishon, Academy Coordinator said: “The whole experience was brilliant and completely different to what the young people are used to, which was incredible for them.”


One Day Ticket

In a first for the Communities Programme, our One Day Ticket event welcomed seven actors to the stage for a script-in-hand performance of a collaborative play by our Citizen Writers’ Group. Communities Writer in Residence Eleanor Thom worked with our writers over several months to explore how as we travel, we encounter stories of our fellow passengers’ lives. Told through a series of narrative snapshots, characters travelled along the ‘Wishes and Regrets Line’, and exchanged anecdotes at the ‘Secrets Lost and Found Line’ with stories that were both moving and funny. You can catch up on One Day Ticket by visiting the event page and clicking ‘Watch Online’.


Futureproofing Education

At this year’s Citizen panel, Futureproofing Education, an insightful group of educators came together to explore how teaching and learning could change in the wake of two years of disruption. Lavinya Stennett (Founder of The Black Curriculum campaign), Emma Easton (School Manager at The Spartans Alternative School), Ian Midwinter (CEO of Scran Academy) and Alexander Boys, a former member of our young writers’ group The Citizen Collective were our panellists. They discussed the need for bespoke approaches to young people in education, as well as emphasising that understanding individual learners’ needs is essential to an inclusive and effective education system. To catch up on this uplifting and informative discussion, click on the event page and follow the links to ‘Watch Online’.


Planet Citizen

What happens if you take the playful, imaginative and downright bizarre ideas of a group of teenagers, then transform them into an immersive art installation? This was how Ryan Van Winkle, our Schools Writer in Residence, decided to present the creative ideas that emerged from a series of Citizen workshops at St Thomas of Aquin’s RC High School. Ryan asked the young people to imagine what a planet would be like if you designed it from scratch. From these discussions, Planet Citizen emerged, an imaginative world complete with detailed explanations of the terrain, the wildlife, and even the belief systems and customs of the fictional inhabitants. We are really grateful to visual artists Natalie Doyle, Faith Eliott, Lotte Fisher, Caitlin Hynes, Seamus Killick, Emily Randall and Natasha Russell for bringing the young people’s writing and ideas to life in such a mind-blowing way.


It was especially fun to welcome the classes from St Thomas’s to explore the installation and see their imaginative worlds materialise. Sandra Murray, Curriculum Lead of English at St Thomas’s, said: “Thank you so much to everyone involved in this. We were really touched by all the detail in the project and the amount of work that went into it. It was a very enjoyable experience and the kids came back full of enthusiasm. I am still smiling about it now too.”

We are still smiling at the wonderful photos that emerged from their visit to Planet Citizen.


It was fantastic to be able to welcome several other groups and community partners to the site for a host of different events. Open Book enjoyed a full day of activities with different groups; their LGBTQ+ writing group attended a writing workshop with Joelle Taylor, while the International Women’s Group and their children enjoyed Are You Sitting Comfortably in the Storytime Yurt. Our own young writers’ group, The Citizen Collective got to meet superstar YA writers Renée Watson and Kalynn Bayron, while the Link Up Book Group from North Edinburgh Arts attended a discussion with authors Gabriel Krauze and Ryan O’Connor. One participant fed back, “It was really fascinating to hear Gabriel Krauze talk about his experiences of being in gangs in London, and it was so nice to chat to him when I went to get my book signed.”


Citizen is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and through the PLACE Programme (funded by the Scottish Government, City of Edinburgh Council, and the Edinburgh Festivals, and supported and administered by Creative Scotland).

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