Edinburgh International Festival and Leith Academy Celebrate Partnership by Launching Brand

  • A new brand unveiled represents the Leith Academy Residency, developed in collaboration between academy pupils and the International Festival 
  • December marks one year of the partnership, and 4000 interactions between the Festival and Academy, through projects including a Personal Development Award improving social and employability skills, four artists-in-residence, and a Festival Ambassadors programme
  • Residency activity in 2020 to include parts of Sex Education Xtreme, a performance for young people on sex education and the evolution of gender; a mentoring programme with International Festival team members, and a behind-the-scenes technical training programme

9 December, Edinburgh: The Edinburgh International Festival and Leith Academy unveil a new brand today for the Leith Academy Residency, created in collaboration between pupils of the school and the marketing team at the International Festival. The brand-launch marks the end of a successful initial year of a three-year partnership between Leith Academy, Edinburgh International Festival and the City of Edinburgh Council, designed to enrich the life of the school by supporting the social and vocational development of pupils and create cultural opportunities for the wider community of the school.

The International Festival’s marketing team worked with third year Art and Design as well as Craft, Design and Technology pupils. Together they created a brand which incorporates both the yellow identity synonymous with the International Festival, and the vivid blue of the Leith Academy school crest and uniform, chosen to reflect the school’s ties to its local community and Leith’s maritime history.

Activity reached over 4000 interactions in 2019 between the school and Festival stemming from a variety of projects around the theme of ‘identity’. These projects included a Personal Development Award qualification for senior pupils to equip them with social and employability skills; the establishment of a Festival Ambassadors programme; a series of ‘connector’ programmes bringing the school and Festival together including year-round trips to theatres and performances, support with the school’s Christmas and summer shows, and a teacher’s ticketing initiative in August; and four artists-in-residence working with pupils – choreographer Ashley Jack, artist Heather Marshall, Battersea Arts Centre’s Beatbox Academy, and photographer and film-maker Aly Wight.

The second year will deepen the impact of existing successful projects whilst developing new initiatives exploring the theme of ‘diversity’. New artists-in-residence include local theatre-makers and performance artists Emma Jayne Park and Peter Lannon, working with pupils to explore masculinity and gender; whilst Mamoru Iriguchi, Lou Brodie and playwright James Ley, will test and inform with Sex Education Xtreme, a project to collaborate on the development of a performance for young people aged 12-15 that seeks to give insight into sex education and the evolution of gender.

Other projects launching in 2020 include the establishment of a mentoring programme, which will pair International Festival team members with individual students at the school; a series of career talks with International Festival teams about what they do; and a new programme developed by the Festival’s Technical department through which students will learn what goes on behind-the-scenes to deliver a performance – from set-building and costume maintenance, to stage management, lighting and sound design.

Caroline Donald, Head of Learning & Engagement at Edinburgh International Festival said: Leith Academy has been a phenomenal partner in 2019 and has really welcomed the Festival into the school, which has been key to the partnership’s success. One of the school’s driving values is ‘success and learning for all’ which also underpins the Festival’s learning and engagement activity across the city, all year round.

“Edinburgh International Festival has connected with the students over 4000 times in our first year and over the next two years we want to build on that to ensure that all students have an opportunity to access culture, nurture their creativity and develop their employability skills.”

Mike Irving, Head Teacher at Leith Academy said: “In 2019/20 there is an ever greater need to look creatively and collaboratively at our curriculum. Our work with the Edinburgh International Festival helps us harness the skills of creativity, team work, problem solving and communication daily. This particular branding event allowed our young people to not only see how branding ‘comes alive’, but to actually be part of creating it from start to finish with skilled professionals. In a world where the jobs young people will do is a dynamic and fluid one, we are very grateful to the wonderful opportunities the young people of Leith are being offered through the residency in order to open their horizons of what their ‘next steps’ may be.”

Councillor Ian Perry, Education, Children and Families Convener at the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “This fantastic residency at Leith Academy marks a real commitment from the Festival to working in a really sustained way with a school and its community. It builds on the previous successful Castlebrae residency and offers pupils and staff unrivalled access to cultural and creative opportunities. It also develops skills in real world situations and is supported by mentoring for pupils and high-quality professional learning for staff.

“We are very supportive of this partnership between the festival, the school and ourselves. I’m really looking forward to finding out more about the residency, how it develops over the next two years and the positive benefits for the school and the whole community.”

Paige Fennell, Leith Academy student and Festival Ambassador said: “What’s been great about having the International Festival Residency in my school is the chance for pupils to try new things which are out of their comfort zones! I had the opportunity to meet and learn from so many people from the Marketing and Communications team in my art class. Now we have a brand, it will be easier for everyone in the school to see what is happening in the Residency!

“I am also a member of the Festival Ambassadors. It is a great confidence booster, a chance to meet new people in different years at school and in the Festival, and you also get to hear about all the different projects going on!”

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