Remembering Craigmillar Festival Society

‘Art was always used at Craigmillar as a frontline activity, as a language of regeneration: it was about fighting talk, where the people of Craigmillar would not take no for an answer.’

Craigmillar Festival Society was one of the pioneering community arts organisations in Britain. It was particularly important in being created and controlled by local people. This short documentary, made by Plum Films in 2004, captures something of the creativity, passion and vision of the people involved. It is an inspiring glimpse into another time.

These people’s work – and their view of community, activism, art and themselves – is worth reflecting on today. It challenges many well-established assumptions about how and why participatory arts is now done.

Fifty years on, you wonder what we have learned – and what we have forgotten.


  1. Thank you for sharing. A very inspiring and encouraging film.
    Everyone is creative; sometimes it gets blocked. Involvement in the arts can unlock creativity and empower people. Brilliant message!

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  2. Here is another reflection on the Craigmillar Festival Society from David Harding who led the Environmental Art Course at Glasgow School of Art, the hotbed of Turner Prize Winners from Scotland. David ensured his students had a real grasp of what art in context could and did mean. I expect just as he introduced them to APG so he also introduced them to Craigmillar Festival Society as key critical examples.

    CULTURAL DEMOCRACY – CRAIGMILLAR STYLE. 30 years of the arts in an Edinburgh housing estate


    1. Thanks – a good reminder. It sent me back to the AN Publication, ‘Art With People’ edited by Malcolm Dickson, where David Harding’s Another History appears. Part of my purpose in reviving this history is to show community art as part of a long river of philosophy and practice with many tributaries (Ruskin, Morris, Littlewood, etc.)

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