Glasgay! Festival

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Glasgay! 1993 festival brochure cover

Coordinates: 55°51′32″N 4°14′46″W / 55.859°N 4.246°W / 55.859; -4.246 Glasgay! Festival was a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender arts festival in Glasgow, Scotland.

From 1993 to 2014 it was part of the diversity of Glasgow's cultural scene, an annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Arts Festival held usually in October/November, formerly organised by GALA Scotland Ltd.


Glasgay! was as an annual arts festival that ran from 1993 to 2014. The operating Company, GALA Scotland Ltd, (now known as Outspoken Arts Scotland Limited) was established in April 1995. The festival was a multi-art form festival of professional work by LGBT performing artists. The programme encompassed theatre, dance, literature, film, music and comedy events and appeared in dozens of venues across the city of Glasgow, Scotland. At its height it was one of the UK's largest multi-arts festival for LGBT people (and their friends), celebrating artistic talent and diversity as well as providing a platform for aspiring artists.

It was founded as a direct response the Section 28 legislation banning the promotion of homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle. Glasgay! launched on Saturday 30 October 1993. This lesbian and gay arts festival was the innovation of Cordelia Ditton, well known in national arts scene as a performer, writer, and co-director of Gay Sweatshop. The introduction of Section 28 in 1988 galvanised a whole new era of political and public agitation and resulted also in the founding in 1989 of the influential national lobbying group Stonewall (charity).

Cordelia Ditton had been involved in the campaign against Section 28 and recognised that important local organisations such as the Glasgow branch of Switchboard already existed. However, it was her idea that a lesbian and gay arts festival, would make the lesbian and gay communities of Glasgow more visible. In 1991 she joined forces with Glasgow-based freelance arts administrator Dominic D’Angelo. Both were determined to produce an arts festival that would show gay lifestyles and performers and work in a very, very positive light. The mission was to change public opinion about lesbian and gay people and to show the wealth of amazing work that was out there. The 1993 Festival opened to huge acclaim garnering audiences of just over 26,000 attenders. However, there were hateful campaigns in the press, from Tory Councillors and members of the public de-crying the use of public money on such gay art. Despite this backlash the festival was initially established as a biennial event. After the 1995 edition Cordelia Ditton stepped down and a new board of directors, led by Dominic D'Angelo and others was convened and the charity Gala Scotland Ltd established. This company then carried forward the legacy and produced the festival from 1996 to 2014.

The work of the festival was always dominated by the prevailing social climate in terms of acceptance, tolerance and understanding of LGBT rights, equality and the march of progress. That social progress has resulted in the repealing of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1998; and enactment of new equality laws, the Civil Partnership Act (2004) and The Equality Act (2010). Glasgay! artists across the generations always presented work that continually reflected social attitudes, behaviours and experiences of the LGBT community. The Glasgay! Festival was a place where LGBT life was acknowledged, celebrated and understood.

Over the 21 years of its history the festival was funded mainly on a year to year basis by the Scottish Arts Council and, subsequently its successor, Creative Scotland and Glasgow City Council. From 2007 to 2014 it enjoyed regular 3 year funding agreements from the Scottish Arts Council/Creative Scotland. In 2015 the company was unsuccessful in its bid to become a new RFO client and the Board was asked to consider the future of the festival without the support of Creative Scotland. The company was also asked to consider its national role as a promoter of equality and the broader protected characteristics. It was clear that whilst the festival clearly enjoyed strong support in Glasgow the need to spread the message of equality, particularly to outer-lying communities was the principal challenge. The Company agreed to enter a period of funding transition and the board took the bold step of retiring the festival and renaming the charity, rebranding and re-purposing the mission. A new name Outspoken Arts Scotland was chosen to reflect the campaigning roots of the festival as the legacy of a movement. A new mission was adopted to work in outlying communities and to work across all, or most, of the protected characteristics. This transition period lasted for nearly two years 2015-2017 and the Company delivered a number of projects across that period. The Company continues to be funded by Creative Scotland & Glasgow City Council and since 2018 by Renfrewshire Council.

Archives: The entire administrative, artistic, press & PR archive of the Glasgay! Festival 1993-2014 was transferred to Glasgow University's Scottish Theatre Archive in Spring 2018.  This archive is still being catalogued and documented but reference to it should eventually appear at this link. [1]

Past work[edit]

The company commissioned 16 new works for theatre and funded over 40 co-productions since 2006. It worked with over 400 artists in its lifetime and regularly engaged both established mature talent as well as championing emergent talent.

In its history the festival has worked with many of the top gay and lesbian artists in the world. Names such as Ian McKellen, Simon Fanshawe, Donna McPhail, Edwin Morgan, Jackie Kay, Rhona Cameron, Annie Sprinkle, Penny Arcade, Bette Bourne, Diamanda Galas, Neil Bartlett, Scott Capurro, Pam Ann, Four Poofs and a Piano, Lypsinka, Louise Welsh, Marc Almond, Alan Carr, Zoë Strachan, Stewart Laing, and John Waters are amongst the many others that have graced Glasgow's stages.


Commissioned Work (Year) Writer/Creators
1. DONALD DOES DUSTY (2006) by Diane Torr
2. TAMBURLAINE MUST DIE (2007) by Louise Welsh
3. ELYSIAN FIELDS (2008) by Derek McLuckie
4. INSIDEOUT (Exhibition) (2009) by Dani Marti
5. JESUS QUEEN OF HEAVEN (2009) by Jo Clifford
6. A CHILD MADE OF LOVE (2009) by Matthew McVarish
7. MEMORY CELLS (2009) by Louise Welsh
8. PLAYING HOUSES (2009) by Martin O'Connor
9. THE MAW BROON MONOLOGUES (2009) by Jackie Kay
10. PANIC PATTERNS (2010) by Louise Welsh
11. THE BRIDGE (2010) by Wendy Miller & Rachel Amey
13. CURED (2013) by Stef Smith
14. THE NEW MAW BROON MONOLOGUES (2013) by Jackie Kay
15. WILFUL FORGETTING (2013) by Donna Rutherford with Martin O'Connor
16. CARDINAL SINNE (2014) by Raymond Burke

Main venues[edit]

Venues include the Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT), the CCA, Tron Theatre, Citizens Theatre, The Arches, King's Theatre, Theatre Royal, RSAMD, St Andrew's in the Square, Art School, The Stand, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and Glasgow's gay scene.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]