Remembering Craigmillar Festival Society

François Matarasso

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. As one speaker in the film says:

‘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.’

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