Igniting ideas for Scotland – Fire Starter Festival 2020

If ever there was a need to stimulate creative imagination and initiative on the part of individuals, communities and whole societies the time is now. The notion of creativity can no longer be restricted to the arts, It must be applied across the full spectrum of human problem solving.

World Commission on Culture and Development

It doesn’t seem so very long ago that we were dampening down the flames of FSF 2019, and gazing in wonder at the phenomenal sparks that had been lit, not just in Scotland but across the whole of Ireland too. Yet, here we are poking the embers, and lighting the kindling for FSF 2020, our fifth festival. In preparing for all the taster/information sessions and webinars to come we’ve been reflecting on some of the highlights from last year and the feedback that so many of you kindly gave us.

Pictures from the FSF 2019 Launch event at The V&A Dundee.

Overwhelmingly you told us you like the creative space and spirit of Fire Starter, and wanted this to continue and develop. You valued the self-managing element and that it has a fairly relaxed feel – the ‘just go for it attitude’ was appreciated. There was a sense that we should focus on developing this imaginative space and make more connections with the Arts, but also an appreciation that this was a place for conversations about complex issues that matter. Having the opportunity to bring people together to have a conversation about something they are all passionate about was one of the key benefits you identified:

Excellent idea – we really need to bring together people who are keen to try out/share new ideas (more than ever now).

Fire Starter Festival attendee 2019

… It creates space to have discussions we probably don’t make enough space for.

Fire Starter Festival attendee 2019

Fire Starter Festival is all about opportunities for conversations, for thinking differently and imaginatively. More than half of the events involved creative approaches to tackle complex issues. For example, SHARE Argyll’s event Rucksacks & Rebels produced a creative action art meet up using writing, music and photography and dialogue to discuss raising awareness about rural youth homelessness in Argyll. Meanwhile, The Pier Arts Centre and Scottish Health council brought together citizens and services in a creative workshop to co-design practical ideas to address social isolation and loneliness in Orkney.

Raising the burning questions is a key element of Fire Starter but so too is sharing the small fires of change. One that we loved was from ROAR where people in their 70s, 80s and 90s shared their journeys to becoming film-makers and campaigners. See here for further inspiration from the last festival’s events.

We also have some blogs from people who hosted events, find out more about Play and Procurement here.

One of the striking aspects of these events was how many of them truly brought together members of the community, and workers from different organisations and sectors to address issues, or ignite ideas. We hope this community involvement continues to grow as the fire spreads.

Festival theme for FSF 2020: 

The proposed citizen’s assemblies have sparked our imaginations so for 2020 we are focussing on what are our highest hopes for Scotland – “What kind of Scotland are we seeking to build?”

What conversations can we spark that will lead to fires of change? How do we build and sustain fires?

At the #fsf2020 launch we will be introduced to the art of the producer – who makes the impossible possible. A producer connects ideas with action, kindling the sparks, making and sustaining the fire.

We need space to imagine possibilities, explore different perspectives and develop ideas: the small fires of change. But, how do we make these ideas real? At FSF 2020 we will be exploring all the factors that make great productions: spaces to imagine, making connections across sectors and disciplines, pushing boundaries, taking risks, and rethinking the resources needed.


If you’re interested in hosting events during FSF 2020 please check out our guide for hosting events and our festival resources. You can also get in touch with the festival team here.