Scotland’s First Ever Festival of Ideas: September 5th-7th


This is the most exciting time in the history of modern Scotland. Some have even claimed, with only a hint of hyperbole, that Scotland is the most dynamic and vibrant nation in all Europe at this moment!

One doesn’t need to reach for over-statement or a sense of triumphalism to note that the independence debate has set of an explosion of discussions and energies which are creative, hopeful and filled with new voices and perspectives. The very ‘idea’ of what Scotland is – in front of our very eyes is being altered and changed – what we can politically and publically talk of, what kind of change is possible, and who and which groups can talk.

Such a backdrop is the ideal time to be bold, daring and adventurous, and thus, the perfect moment to launch something new: Scotland’s first ever Festival of Ideas entitled Imagination: Scotland’s Festival of Ideas ( Organised by Gerry Hassan and Roanne Dods, it has the backing of the University of the West of Scotland and PAL Labs as well as sponsorship from the Sunday Herald and the pathbreaking Violence Reduction Unit of Police Scotland.

The festival runs from the evening of Friday September 5th to Sunday September 7th and takes place on the southside of Glasgow in Govanhill Swimming Pool and Studio and the Glad Café.

It brings together a wide-range of themes, speakers and activities and covers numerous areas of interest and public conversation – from politics and culture and ideas to entertainment, irreverent and playful.

There are discussions on the referendum and the dynamics of the vote, the state of the media, challenge of inequality and state of the economy, gender issues and role of men and women, state of culture and cultural change, importance of empathy, bringing up children, the history of Glasgow gangs, the state of small nations in an age of globalisation, the future of Britain, and the future shape and direction of Scotland after the indyref and many more. There are also two music concerts on Friday and Sunday nights, and a DJ set on the Saturday evening.

Speakers include Will Hutton, Fintan O’Toole, Billy Bragg, Madeleine Bunting, Guy Standing, Iain Macwhirter, John Harris, David Greig, Janice Galloway, Karen McCluskey, Joyce McMillan, Michael Keating, Sue Palmer, Alastair McIntosh, Libby Brooks, David Torrance, Philip Schlesinger, Robin McAlpine, John Curtice, John Carnochan, Eleanor Yule, James Foley, Cat Boyd, Jeane Freeman, Adam Lent, Sue Goss, Deirdre Nelson, Sarah Drummond and many more.

Imagination: Scotland’s Festival of Ideas is about so much more than politics. In the words of co-organiser Gerry Hassan:

‘The weekend is about being open-minded, creative and imagination. It is an invitation to come and explore the possibilities of the future of Scotland, ideas and change. It is firmly and unapologetically in spirit and intent, non-partisan and non-aligned – at this crucial and exciting time in our nation’s history’.

Co-organiser Roanne Dods commented:

‘Scotland’s first ever Festival of Ideas is going to be bright, bold, and challenging. It is an experiment at this fast moving and challenging time in Scotland from its politics and culture to society. It is an ideal time to look at how we think about some of the fundamental tenets of who we are, and as importantly, how we speak, converse, engage and show respect for one other and for opposing views’.

Imagination: Scotland’s Festival of Ideas is a non-aligned, non-partisan gathering of nearly sixty speakers in over twenty sessions, eight musical acts and artists, one DJ set, and film, as well as additional activities over the weekend on democracy, art and imagination.

Tickets for the weekend are £30 for a ticket without music and £40 with music, while individual tickets can be bought for £5. Tickets can be bought online at:

National Collective

Image from Allistair Burt