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Just Janice: our cultural collaborators could teach politicians a lesson

Collaboration - not confrontation. Those words keep swirling around in my head, as I continue to encounter brilliant Scottish artists who could teach our politicians a few lessons about the benefits of working together.

Funnily enough, often it’s the younger generation who are more mature about this than the supposed grown-ups.

The Scottish Album of the Year Awards are a case in point. This year’s event, which took place on Thursday at the Glasgow Barrowland, was a feel-good affair, with everyone who is anyone in the Scottish music business, in attendance.

The winner was Thirteen Lost & Found, the second album from Glasgow’s RM Hubbert, a self-taught guitarist who had conceived the record as a way of reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.

Each piece was co-written with a guest artist and was produced by old pal and Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos, with collaborators including Emma Pollock, Alasdair Roberts and last year’s SAY award winner, Aidan Moffat. The result is a moving and eclectic record which celebrated Glasgow’s DIY history of music.

One of the other shortlisted albums was Kilsyth alt-rockers, The Twilight Sad’s, No One Can Ever Know. Frontman James Graham, had collaborated with fellow shortlisted artist, Karine Polwart, on The Fruit Tree Foundation, a musical project aimed at raising awareness of mental health, which involved members of other Scottish bands.

And so it goes on - not a rock family tree, but an ever-growing musical forest spreading its branches across genres - folk meets hip-hop meets electronica and on and on.

This spirit of co-operation is evident across all the art-forms - every week I meet creative people of all ages who are working together on slam poetry nights, writers’ workshops, theatre and visual art projects, science and music compositions. The energy out there is palpable.

Perhaps, at this crucial point in our history, Scotland’s politicians could throw some money at these inspiring people and commission them to organise a few workshops at the Parliament.

I’m not suggesting that MSPs take hip-hop classes in their lunch hour - not least because I now have an mental image of Alex Salmond in a pair of low-rise sweat pants, which may take years of therapy to erase.

No, just a lesson or two in working together for the common good. Smiling, not sniping. Collaboration, not confrontation. I’ll get the T-shirts made.

I know there’s a festival on every other week in Scotland, but the Edinburgh International Film Festival is worth a visit, and the move away from August means that you can’t use the excuse of being too busy doing the Fringe to fit it in.

Highlights include Dummy Jim, inspired by the true story of profoundly deaf Scot, James Duthie, who in 1951, cycled from his small fishing village to the Arctic Circle; and shock-horror - a Scottish rom-com - Not Another Happy Ending, starring Karen Gillan, which will be the closing gala.

The festival continues until 30th June.

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