In August 2001, St John’s Episcopal Church, Princes Street, Edinburgh organised the first Festival of Spirituality as a contribution to the festival scene in Edinburgh in August. The intention was to affirm human creativity and the prophetic insight of much that goes on in the Edinburgh festivals – and to add a faith based perspective on topical issues. The first programme was modest – a series of lunch time conversations and evening hours for contemplation/meditation called Sacred Space.
One month later, in September 2001, events took place which moved the role of faith in our world to centre stage, for the worst of reasons. It is surely no coincidence that, since then, this festival has grown as we seek to comprehend the forces at work and how, in the shadow of violence, we can redouble our efforts to work for peace.
Therefore from 2005, working with Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association and others, the Festival of Spirituality and Peace (FoSP) was established in its present form: interfaith, multigenre, topical, participative. It quickly established itself as an important part of the Edinburgh scene becoming a festival in its own right in 2007.
FoSP is committed to the principles of creativity, inclusivity and dialogue and to modelling the dynamics of peacemaking: to sponsor the kind of conversations and encounters which need to happen in the wider world if there is to be peace and respect for all – and to garner wisdom wherever it is to be found. Therefore our programme will create opportunities for engagement for those who seek constructively to address the issues of our time, to promote dialogue and to build community in diversity.
Programme and Support
We are supported by The Scottish Government, The City of Edinburgh Council and a number of other significant organisation to provide a range of events including keynote talks, conversation, film, prayer/meditation, exhibitions, visual art, music, poetry, drama and workshops.
Particular elements of our programme are promoted in partnership. This is a developing area of the Festival. Our partners are too many to list here but have included: Initiatives for Change, Edinburgh Peace and Justice Resource Centre, the Forum on Discrimination, Scottish Association for Mental Health, Scottish Poetry Library, Save the Children, Amnesty International, Oxfam, the Humanist Society of Scotland, Friends of the Earth Scotland, Islam Festival Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland, Scottish Episcopal Church, Scottish Prison Service, The Skinny, The World Peace Prayer Society and The Scottish Parliament.
We draw participants and visitors from all over Scotland and beyond and are slowly developing our capacity to take events outside Edinburgh and into grassroots communities.
Each year we choose a broad theme on which to focus:
2003: Living in a Dangerous World
2004: A World of Difference
2005: Tomorrow's World
2006: Longing and Belonging: Identity Today
2007: Power and Freedom: Breaking the Chains
2008: Be The Change: Wellbeing of People and Planet
2009: The Call of Home
2010: The Golden Rule: Can We Live By It?
2011: Faith, Hope and …. REALITY
Our audiences have grown from a few hundred in the early days to in excess of 20,000 now. Such an increase shows that there is a clear role for such a festival. Our 2011 programme was our biggest yet with over 200 events (and over 300 performances) across all genres, in venues around and beyond Edinburgh.
Throughout this period of rapid growth we have been supported by the Scottish Government, the City of Edinburgh Council and others. The programme has grown not only in size but in depth and reach:
o Taking key events to other parts of Scotland
o As well as the public events programme, we have also developed Civic Cafes which are invitation-based events where we delve more deeply into topical, often controversial, issues gathering a range of voices of those with personal or professional interest.
o Our volunteer programme, which has won Investing in Volunteers status, brings together an intergenerational, multicultural and international group of volunteers who form the nucleus of our community each August and who staff the events based at our anchor venue, St John’s in Princes Street.
o We also seek to raise money for appropriate good causes each year, through a combination of 50p ticket surcharges on some events and collection donations at free events. See festival Charities for details
o In 2011, for the first time we offered a Peace Award, recognising the contribution made by one of our keynote participants. This award was offered in partnership with the City of Edinburgh, the Conference of Edinburgh’s Religious Leaders and the Edinburgh InterFaith Association.
The first such award, appropriately for the year when we assessed the legacy of 9/11 ten years later, was presented to Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf from New York City, who reflected on ‘The Day the World Changed’
We welcome feedback and suggestions for development and we look forward to seeing you at the festival this year.
Find out how by contacting us at:
The Festival of Spirituality and Peace
St John's Church
Edinburgh EH2 4BJ
Or use our online contact form.
The Festival of Spirituality & Peace has a new Director: Andrew Newman. Andrew brings with him an African/ Scottish view on the path to peace, diversity and inclusiveness.
For information on how to contact him visit the 'Meet the team' page
Calling all Performers
FoSP is searching for innovative and thought-provoking events to be part of 2013's Festival
For more information please see the Performing page
New online access!
Thanks for visiting our new website. Browse it to find out more about us and our events.