First ever Edinburgh International Magazine Festival captures imagination of Scottish audiences

Edinburgh was overcome with magazine love last week, as PPA Scotland’s new seven-day festival filled venues across the Scottish capital for a wide range of events with magazines at their heart.

Running from September 16-22, the Edinburgh International Magazine Festival marked the first time anywhere in the world that magazines have been celebrated with their own week-long festival.

From the Empire Podcast to The Big Issue Big Debate, and the Association of Journalism Education’s academic symposium to PPA Scotland’s own flagship event Magfest, the EIMF brought communities of magazine readers and creators together.

EIMF Director, and PPA Scotland Business Manager Laura Kelly Dunlop said: “I am delighted that the Edinburgh International Magazine Festival has captured the public imagination in its very first year. It was a week of brilliant, engaging events, that emphasised the diversity of magazines. Thank you to everyone who made it possible – and to everyone who attended any of our events.

“Over the last eight years, Magfest has captured the hearts of magazine professionals in Scotland and beyond, so it is very exciting to allow a broader, consumer audience to experience the same excitement about what magazines have to offer.”

The festival began on Monday September 16, with ‘One Night at Waterstones: three amazing magazines, three incredible interviews’ in association with the International Magazine Centre. In three fascinating discussions, the audience heard from internationally acclaimed photographer David Eustace, interviewed by RPS Journal editor Kathleen Morgan; author and magazine columnist Fiona Gibson in conversation with SWI’s Women Together editor Pauline Burnett; and Nutmeg writer Daniel Gray and photographer Alan McCredie.

On Tuesday the festival celebrated the power of music magazines to introduce people to exciting music, as Your New Favourite Band saw three magazine journalists each announce an up-and-coming Scottish act for the Sneaky Pete’s crowd. The Skinny’s Music Editor Tallah Brash introduced electronic Edinburgh duo Maranta, GoldFlakePaint editor Tom Johnson recommended Glasgow-based singer Edwin Organ, and EIMF Director and journalist Laura Kelly Dunlop set the stage for Paisley band DRIFT.

The next day, a select crowd were lucky to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the National Library of Scotland’s massive magazine archive The Library’s Head of General Collections Graeme Hawley led an exploration of their collection of more than 25,000 magazine and newspaper titles.

A packed schedule on Thursday September 19 saw magazine lovers torn between an embarrassment of riches.

At Edinburgh Napier University, the Association of Journalism Education asked how they can train a new generation of great magazine writers. The Media Voices Podcast ran an interactive workshop on how to find, listen to and even make a magazine podcast – giving valuable tips for how to get started in the vibrant world of podcasts.

In the evening, Hollywood star Jack Lowden (Dunkirk, Fighting With My Family) visited EIMF as part of the Empire Podcast at the Cameo Picturehouse cinema. Meanwhile, across the city at Cabaret Voltaire, The Big Issue Big Debate got to grips with knotty questions around how we can rebuild trust in the media.

At the heart of the festival was PPA Scotland’s top industry-focused event, the much-loved Magfest, which took place on September 20, at Central Hall. In its eighth year, Magfest has established itself and continues to be the must-attend event for Scotland’s vibrant publishing industry, attracting speakers and guests from across the country.

In line with the theme ‘Game Changers’, a variety of individuals who represent parts of the industry working to sustain print and harness digital opportunities, took to the stage, hosted over the course of the day by PPA Manging Director, Owen Meredith.

Opening Magfest with her rallying cry for feminism, was Ella Dolphin, CEO of The Stylist Group, who highlighted the important work the brand is doing for female empowerment.

The Atlantic’s Global Editor Prashant Rao spoke about growing the established American brand in the international market, going into detail about the rigorous fact-checking process involved in each article. As a journalist who has been Deputy Europe Business Editor for The New York Times, Baghdad Bureau Chief for Agence France-Presse, and a correspondent and editor at Bloomberg News, Rao spoke authoritatively about the power of trust that magazines hold and how important journalistic integrity and fairness is when news reporting in our current climate.

Other game changing players speaking at Magfest included Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff, Head of Editorial at gal-dem magazine and Sonny Dhamu, Art Director at Inside Housing and the brains behind the powerful ‘Never Again’ Grenfell Campaign.

A number of break out sessions also took place over the course of the day, including an examination of how to survive and thrive as a freelancer and a panel on how magazines can change the world.

In a great end to the day, Ed Needham, Editor of _Strong Words_, spoke to the audience about the monumental one-man project he has undertaken, editing and publishing a monthly magazine celebrating the best new books.

Chair of PPA Scotland, Sally Hampton, said: “It was an absolute joy to welcome the magazine world to Edinburgh for #Magfest19. The fabulous programme of inspirational speakers celebrated best practice in our industry – across every discipline and every sector. As one delegate told me at the end of the day, ’There’s nothing quite like Magfest to get you hyped up and excited about working in magazines.’”

The magazine goodness continued over the weekend of Edinburgh International Magazine Festival.

In association with Women in Journalism Scotland, on Saturday the festival examined why social media can be so toxic, especially for female journalists. In a productive discussion, chaired by Women in Journalism Scotland Co-Chair Libby Brooks, of The Guardian, the panel and audience discussed what can be done to support women under attack. Women in Journalism Scotland plans to use the debate to feed into their soon-to-be published-advice for their members.

The festival closed on Sunday with a creative workshop hosted by boom saloon. Led by hand cut collage artist Lewis Burden, attendees transformed discarded magazines into new works of art, further celebrating the beauty of the printed page.

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