Made in Scotland and celebrated worldwide – a new model for exporting theatre and dance is thriving
From intimate children's theatre, to abstract dance performed against a bare mountain backdrop - by way of cutting-edge immersive theatre - Made in Scotland is a programme which finds the best Scottish theatre and dance, shows it off at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and then helps it to travel the world.
The Made in Scotland programme is a neat solution to twin problems at the Fringe. It allows international bookers to find quality touring material in the sprawling event, while it gives Scottish theatre and dance companies a place to be seen. Jointly, the Federation of Scottish Theatre, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society and Creative Scotland have successfully developed Made in Scotland as an annual project since 2009.
A curated strand of the Fringe, supported by the Scottish Governments Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund, the showcase is put together by a international panel of theatre and dance experts - under the impartial chairmanship of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society's chief executive.
The best of the proposals which have potential for international touring are chosen. Only 12 of the 56 applications in 2012 were successful. But for chosen few, the hit rate is high. More than half the 41 productions featured in the programme's first three years have had an international life after the Fringe.
Gill Robertson, of specialist children's theatre company Catherine Wheels and director of the multi award-winning White says that having a platform at the Fringe was vital to the show's success. She says: "It was a great springboard for all the interest we had. And then there is a further Made in Scotland fund we applied to for international touring."
Beck Pearce, programming executive at the Adelaide Festival Centre in Australia, used the Made in Scotland programme at the Fringe. Describing the programme as a "one stop shop", she says: "They were extremely helpful in terms of being a pathway and making contact with the Scottish companies. They helped make it an easier Fringe experience."
She was just one of the many people who were bowled over by White - and used the Made in Scotland touring fund to help bring the company to Adelaide. Once there it played to sell-out audiences, enhancing the Centre's reputation and providing a resource for local creatives.
James MacGillivray, acting artistic director for Scottish Dance Theatre, says that appearing in the Made in Scotland programme in 2009 opened up a whole range opportunities for the company and for its international partners.
"We have had a lot of international work come off because of Made in Scotland," he says. "The spinoffs have been that we have been able to network and our artists have been able to develop their work and expand their own networks with creative opportunities."
The creative opportunities have gone both ways, with artists visiting Dundee to work with the company.
It is this sort of dynamic element which endears the whole Made in Scotland programme to Richard Jordan, the producer of Cora Bissett's cutting-edge immersive drama, Roadkill.
He says: "Made in Scotland is more than a funding company, it is a collaborator. There is a real interest in what is going on and a desire to help. There is a supportive ability within that, so you really do feel that Made in Scotland is part of a collaboration."
It seems that the promoters around the world - and the Scottish companies they worked with - would agree.
For details of the this year's showcase please visit: www.madeinscotlandshowcase.com