Civic, faith and political leaders welcome Just Festival

By staff writers
August 4, 2013

The Scottish Government, the European Parliament, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and civic and faith leaders were among those involved in the official opening of the 2013 Just Festival.

Hundreds of people turned out for the occasion at St John's Episcopal Church, in the heart of Edinburgh, on Saturday 3 August.

Formerly known as the Festival of Spirituality and peace, Just Festival is the largest multi-ethnic and multi-faith event of its kind. This year it features 129 events across 450 performances and 28 venues from 2-26 August.

In a message for the event, Scotland's Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, said: "Once again the Scottish Government is delighted to be supporting the Just Festival, which now has a new name and is in its thirteenth year.

"As ever, the vibrant multi-cultural mix of the Festival is a key feature of its continuing popularity and it is great to see a continued commitment to building positive relations within the diverse communities of Scotland.

"Each year, there are some fantastic and engaging talks on important topics such as peace-making, the future of Scotland and working to eliminate sectarianism and discrimination. We wish the Just Festival and all involved in it the very best for their busy programme."

The opening event, 'Just Starting', took place in the atmospheric St John's Episcopal Church on Princes Street, Edinburgh, followed by a reception in the hall.

Other speakers included Bishop of Edinburgh John Armes and James Temple-Smithson, Head of Office in Scotland of the European Parliament.

There was also a video message from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa, backing the Soweto Melodic Voices tour, which is part of the Just line-up.

Just director Katherine Newbigging and chair of board Raymond Baudon introduced and narrated the evening, with Raymond officially declaring the Festival, which has already been running for two full days, well-and-truly open.

There was inspiring music from award-winning a capella outfit Africa Entsha, North East Japan Spirit, Sing Caledonia (the play challenging sectarianism), Kantara and the Voice of Hope Choir (introduced by Karen Docwra).

The Just Festival, also known simply as Just, runs from 2-26 August 2013. It combines artistic and performance style events with conversations, talks, films exhibits and other ways of exploring how to live together creatively in a mixed-belief society.

It is supported by civic, educational, church and faith groups (including the thinktank Ekklesia), and also by the Scottish Government and European Parliament. Some 30,000 people are expected to take part over the month.

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