St Andrew's Fair Saturday: 'Kindness is about looking after the most vulnerable in society and including everyone in the conversation'

We speak to some of this year's participants to ask why Fair Saturday is an important movement to be involved with and what compassion means in 2019

Having started life as a multi-arts movement in Bilbao in 2014, Fair Saturday has grown substantially since, encompassing cities and attendees all over the world, including Scotland, which became the first to participate as a nation in 2018. With the movement returning on Sat 30 Nov as a key part of Scotland's St Andrew's Day celebrations, we catch up with some of this year's participants to find out why they're taking part and what kindness and compassion means to them in 2019.

Claire Craig, The Travelling Gallery

Travelling Gallery will be driving into Chamber Street and showcasing our current exhibition Day of Access by Alec Finlay, which explores disabled access to wild nature. As a gallery whose vision is for everybody to have the opportunity to experience and engage in the arts, it was hard to say no to Fair Saturday. We strongly connected with their message and are excited to see culture and empathy shared and celebrated across Edinburgh and the world.

I hope participants and audiences will enjoy themselves and have fun being part of such an inclusive and large global event. But I also hope there's time for reflection and an understanding of the benefits of art and its importance in our society; to allow audiences to engage and learn from creative ideas, experiences and cultures. I hope they feel inspired!

In 2019, as an antidote to a lot of what we read and view, kindness and compassion is about listening and seeing a person beyond their politics. It's about looking after the most vulnerable in society and including everyone in the conversation.

St Andrew's Fair Saturday: 'Kindness is about looking after the most vulnerable in society and including everyone in the conversation'

Alec Finlay Counterpane Landscape, Alec Finlay with Rachel Smith / credit: Hannah Devereux

Heather Stuart, CEO, ONFife

This is our second year involved in this fantastic initiative. We love the ethos of Fair Saturday and it is very much in line with our commitment to supporting our communities. It allows us to promote our services in libraries — nearly all of which are free, including storytelling and our exhibitions — and ask our visitors who have enjoyed their time with us to give a little back to others. This year we are again supporting our local food banks.

We hope it is a reminder to everyone of how lucky we are and that we have access to amazing services and activities all year round. But also that at this time of year, in amongst all of the madness and mayhem that can surround Christmas, it is good to pause and give back to those who need a helping hand.

Kindness and compassion in 2019 is about remembering that you can't know what someone is going through just by looking at them and that if we all showed a bit more kindness and compassion then the world would be a much better place.

Cary Welling, Northlight Gallery

This year, my two wonderful friends Fiona Grahame and Martin Laird are making a show for my gallery about a ship that was sunk off Orkney in the First World War. A great number of people lost their lives in the seas here but this ship, HMS Pheasant, has been sadly forgotten.

I think we see making exhibitions for Fair Saturday as a way to fill out the historical record and remind our friends and neighbours of brave deeds – last year we showed an original animation about the Orkney Women Suffragists. A sense of sorrow and respect for the 'ordinary' men and boys who lost their lives and that an art gallery isn't a remote place with little relevance in real peoples' lives.

Kindness and compassion feature largely in people's daily lives but can seem invisible in the media surrounding us.

St Andrew's Fair Saturday: 'Kindness is about looking after the most vulnerable in society and including everyone in the conversation'


Sara Bain, SEALL

The SEALL Festival of Small Halls is a community-focused festival, which brings some of the giants of Scottish traditional music to small halls around the Isles of Skye and Raasay. The emphasis is on people, place and performance and the project aims to bring our dispersed rural communities together in their own hall; to remind our younger generations that they belong to a unique and vibrant culture; immerse our visitors in a living experience of Highland musical heritage; and celebrate Scotland's national day together in an inclusive, fair, welcoming and truly traditional way.

SEALL is a charity with a general remit to bring well-being and joy to the doorsteps of the people of Skye and its surrounding areas through the mediums of high-quality performance art and culture. We are well-supported by our communities and, by joining Fair Saturday, we are adding so many positive new layers to our mission and giving something back by using culture as a tool for compassion.

We hope that, by dedicating our Big Cèilidh on St Andrew's Night to the Fair Saturday movement, we will use celebration to raise awareness of the need to support important charitable causes. Our chosen charity is the Skye and Lochalsh branch of Ross-shire Women's Aid who provide a non-judgmental, empowering and supportive service to women, children and young people suffering from domestic abuse

Kindness and compassion are what make us human and should always take the central role, whether individually or collectively, in our relationships with others. Kindness and compassion are an antidote to fear, anger and intolerance and not a measure of weakness nor rigid altruism. It is comforting to know there are very many compassionate individuals and organisations in the world like Fair Saturday who are battling against this trend and trying their hardest to encourage fairness, tolerance and equality within their societies, often with severely limited resources.

St Andrew's Fair Saturday: 'Kindness is about looking after the most vulnerable in society and including everyone in the conversation'

Edinburgh Tool Library

Chris Hellawell, Founder & Director, Edinburgh Tool Library

As an organisation that is about sharing resources and not over-consuming, Black Friday goes against everything we stand for, so when we heard about Fair Saturday as the antidote, we were all for it. This year we are going to be running one-hour maker classes in our Custom Lane workshop. We are tackling something very consumer-driven – Christmas — and giving it a sustainable twist. So we will be sharing our tools with people, and showing them how to make decorations from reclaimed timber, which will last and mean a lot more than some plastic baubles bought on Black Friday! It's the perfect Secret Santa workshop, where you get to be one of the elves!

I think we are particularly keen for people to think about and understand the value of something hand-made by them, and how as a society we often ascribe value to something only in monetary terms. Our mantra is access over excess, and we want people to think about how wealthy they can be by having access to things they need when they need them, rather than owning them. We also want them to go away with a kick-ass wood-turned Christmas tree!

I think now more than ever, it's about kindness to the planet, and the community you are part of. We don't live in a world of infinite resources, so the minimum kindness we can do is to try to tread as lightly on the earth as possible.

Steph Leach, Summerhall

This is my first involvement in Fair Saturday, I work at Summerhall as the Event Coordinator and we have created a gig with music and spoken word to be a part of the programme this year. The event being held on St. Andrew's Fair Saturday is called Fair Play and the purpose of the event is to showcase some of our amazing artists that have been part of Summerhall's Artist Development Programme. We wanted the event to really reflect what Summerhall's ethos is and we found that Fair Saturday was in line with our own beliefs. We wanted to be part of this programme because culture is so important to celebrate and we are delighted to be a apart of such a global phenomenon that started small and local, much like us.

What we are hoping audience's will take away from Fair Saturday is how imperative culture and the arts are, and the value of supporting local and developing artists. Their contribution by being there gives art and culture a real sense of value. We want participants to be able to share work that they have been developing all this time and be able to do it in a environment with a supportive audience of their peers and open the door to future professional partnerships. Summerhall prides itself on its sense of community and we want both audience and performer to feel a part of that.

Kindness and compassion is thankfully plentiful in a country like Scotland, being able to work for a company like Summerhall has shown me that projects like the Artist Development Programme is exactly what is needed for local art and culture to flourish. Kindness and compassion for me is looking at the bigger picture of the arts and recognising that there is more to life and work than making money. It's about nurturing a community so that artist have the tools they need to succeed and being a part of their success is so valuable. I'm proud to be working in a place which focusses on local artists.

St Andrew's Fair Saturday, various venues: Scotland, Sat 30 November,

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