Scotland and its diaspora
ASI Founder and Chairman Roddy Gow reflects on our Diaspora as part of Visions Irrespective, a collection of essays about the future in Scotland of the arts, media, creative industries and culture
Emigrants wave goodbye in the 1950sAs Scotland considers its role in the 21st century, it must do so as more than a country with a population of less than half the size of Greater London or equal to that of Singapore.
Scotland sits at the centre of an extraordinary Diaspora, encompassing literally millions of men and women who feel Scottish and claim links with the land of their forebears or the place where they once lived or studied.
Next year under the title “Forging Ties That Bind” the Asia Scotland Institute, together with the Scottish North American Leadership, mounts a two day conference in Edinburgh at Gogarburn on 17 and 18 March.
What are these Ties? Quite apart from the compelling drivers of economics, education, technology and the many aspects of Scottish commercial life, culture and the arts play a huge part. There is a real sense that the performing and visual arts cement and build links with Scots as far away as New Zealand or Zimbabwe, Chile or China.
In many respects the idea of what is Scottish is much more apparent than what is English and “Brand Scotland” from a tourist perspective attracts visitors and sells product. To quote David Allfrey, Producer of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, “the image of the final act with the massed performers on the Esplanade may appear on biscuit tins but it is also an iconic symbol of Scotland”.
From music to literature, from dance to food and drink, Scottishness is clearly understood. The Scottish Colourists and The Glasgow Boys had an influence far beyond Scotland’s shores. There was an outpouring of concern at the fire in Glasgow that destroyed part of the iconic Charles Rennie Mackintosh Library. The pain was shared by many.
Back to the Diaspora. This small country’s influence will live on!
The Visions Irrespective project was put together by the RSA‘s Media, Creative Industries, Culture and Heritage Network (MCICH)