Celebrate Cultural Diversity through Traditional Arts: St. Andrew’s Day Open Conference

From Donald Shaw to Muhammad Al-Hussainni, a special day to explore how Scotland is Enhanced by Diversity and Combined by Humanity.

Ahead of 2017’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, TRACS (Traditional Arts & Culture Scotland) and BEMIS jointly host an exploration of how Scotland can realise the creative potential of our diverse cultural heritage in local communities, perfectly timed to coincide with Scotland’s national day and followed by an evening concert of traditional talents.

From language, custom and belief to music and song, the conference explores the unique local expressions of cultural heritage and their global connections, simultaneously universal and particular in character, with an impressive pull of policy makers, practitioners, academics and performers to entertain and inspire at the conference, which is a free but ticketed event.

Through its work, TRACS engages with the question of participation, hoping to advance the traditional arts as a vehicle for empowerment and inclusion; a celebration of cultural difference engaging with ethnic and cultural groups across our networks of music, storytelling and dance. In this aim, TRACS have a shared objective with BEMIS: to promote inclusion, democratic active citizenship and a greater recognition of the diverse intangible cultural heritage of local communities.

This shared conference will explore the traditional arts and Intangible Cultural Heritage as a conduit to community cohesion and integration, as Michelle Kelly, Traditional Dance Forum of Scotland Co-ordinator states:

Embracing cultural diversity goes hand-in-hand with an inclusive, collaborative and creative society. People have always used dance, music and storytelling as an everyday means of understanding and self-expression – this conference is a great way to continue that exploration.”  

Live performances, workshops and speakers combine with networking opportunities for a feast of a day drawing upon the civic national model of citizenship laid out by the Scottish Government, whose inclusive definition of ICH in Scotland embraces the diversity of cultures, including that of migrant communities.

The traditional, creative arts are a vital and diverse element of Scottish cultural life, valued by people and communities – locally, nationally and internationally – whatever their background. In Scotland, the traditional arts are underpinned by the idea of hospitality: sharing what we have to offer as people gather together, by invitation or happenstance, providing a means for voices hidden from mainstream society to be heard. Storytelling, music, song and dance can play a vital role in promoting understanding between people of different faiths, nationalities and abilities.

So come along for a hospitality and warmth! There are a handful of tickets left for this exciting day.

Reserve your place here

Live Performances

  • BBC Traditional Musician of the Year 2013 Paddy Callaghan with Jani Lang and Muhammad Al-Hussaini

See video below of Paddy at HebCelt 2013 with BEMIS’ Danny Boyle on flute!

Jani Lang is a Hungarian fiddle player and Muhammad Al-Hussaini is a London based Imam who combines and compares Arabic-Islamic musical tradition with traditional Irish sean nós.

  • Dance Ihayami with Marion Kenny

Dance Ihayami, Scotland’s classical Indian dance company, accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Marion Kenny for an unforgettable spectacle of evocative rhythms, technical precision and striking geometry of Bharatanatyam. Marion Kenny has a rich backdrop of utilising storytelling and music together as showcased in her project Voices in Scotland.


  • Alasdair Allan MSP, Ministerial Address on “The Global influence on Our National Cultural Heritage”
  • Rami Ousta, BEMIS Keynote Address on “Intangible Cultural Heritage as a Pathway to Active Citizenship”
  • Donald Shaw, Celtic Connections leads the Panel Discussion for the day alongside Marion Kenny (Voices in Scotland) and Danny Boyle (BEMIS) 
  • Mairi McFadyen and Donald Smith lead on introductions and wrap up for TRACS 

Workshops and Creative Participation sessions

  • TRACS: The People’s Parish: Inspiring Creativity of Place
  • Bemis & Kenyan Women in Scotland Association: Celebrating Kenyan and Scottish Cultural and Historical Ties
  • Voluntary Arts Scotland: Cultural Connections: Finding the Missing Links in Scotland’s Voluntary Arts Sector
  • Museums Galleries Scotland: From First Footing to Faeries: An Inventory of Scotland’s Living Culture

 Download Full Programme for the Day: further information and links

Reserve your place here