Multi-cultural project in Edinburgh launches first episode in series of diverse films

9 August 2021

Theatre Sans Accents, Starcatchers and Bilingualism Matters, present “Arts in Tongues” a pilot mini-web series of 6 short episodes presented by Marion Geoffray and filmed by Lucas Chih-Peng Kao about the diverse communities of artists present in Edinburgh and with the specific aim to engage with families and young children through the arts, multiculturalism and multilingualism. This project is supported by the University of Edinburgh Local Community Grants scheme.

Arts in Tongues bridges the communication gaps between the academic world, the arts industry and the local communities, diffusing and disseminating knowledge in a playful and creative manner, facilitating access and inclusion. Shows the benefits of language learning, cultural immersion and creative play with early years and young people.

A group of multidisciplinary, dance, music and writer/spoken word artists from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds have come together to share their work with families in Edinburgh. Each episode (filmed outdoors in key locations around Edinburgh) will see an artist from a different cultural and artistic background share their work and their relationship between their practice and their cultural/linguistic heritage in an accessible and playful manner. The mini web series will be published online and on social media throughout August.

The project showcases and celebrates diverse communities in Edinburgh, representing the many faces and tongues of people living in Scotland, giving visibility to under-represented diverse bilingual artists in the performing arts industry. The project seeks to demystify language learning and foster a positive attitude towards mixing cultures and traditions starting with early childhood.

By promoting language and communication skills in all its shapes and forms and offering multi-sensory stimulation for babies and young children as well as adults, the project shows how many people choose Scotland and Edinburgh for their home and most importantly, “feel” at home in Edinburgh.

With a real community focused approach to the work, communities are encouraged to explore their neighbourhoods as well as visit other areas of Edinburgh and gain a wider more complex definition of what the Scottish identity is.

Arts in Tongues Artist, Cynthia Cheung said:

“As a minority race in Scotland, that gives me a responsibility to deliver multiculturalism within my artistic practice to the community to eliminate racial discrimination and create a safe and positive environment for everyone. It has a sense of mission to be a diverse bilingual artist in Scotland.”

Arts in Tongues Artist, Kolbrun Bjort Sigfusdottir said:

“Being a bilingual artist in Scotland right now means a few things, it means an urge to keep Scotland connected to Europe, to the world. It means what we call in Icelandic having the “visitor’s eye” – a viewpoint that is able to see things afresh that those more used to it might not see anymore. And with that comes a bit of responsibility to shake things up. I take that responsibility quite seriously”.

Project lead, Marion Geoffray said:

“I made this project to show the vibrant patchwork of languages, cultures, communities, and art forms that are present in Edinburgh, but also more generally in Scotland, a country of many faces and tongues. I wanted to reflect on this hybrid and plural identity, in a city that welcomed me and where my contribution has always felt valued. Coming from Southern France from a family in which I am the only one to have moved abroad, I wasn’t raised bilingual and it’s only as I grew older learning foreign languages that I realised how much languages have shaped my personality, skills and the way I see the world. Working a lot with children and young people, I wanted to share that, that the world is at the tip of the tongue, that you don’t have to be fluent to widen your horizons, that the arts are a shared universal language that we all have the potential to “speak” regardless of where we’re from or our abilities.”

Arts in Tongues - Cynthia WS Cheung - Episode 1

Arts in Tongues - Jessica Gaitan Johannesson - Episode 2

Arts in Tongues - Ida Casilli - Episode 3

Arts in Tongues - Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir - Episode 4

Arts in Tongues - Pirita Tuisku - Episode 5

Arts in Tongues - Jose Rojas Navea - Episode 6