What’s on at Hispanic Festival 2014


Established in 2004, the Hispanic Festival annual October event, produced by Hispanic Arts Scotland (HAS), will bring communities together to highlight Hispanic arts and to widen and deepen community relations in Scotland. In our Hispanic Festival 10 Anniversary  - now a fully integrated Scottish tradition!-  we continue in the spirit of reaching out to new communities and geographical areas to showcase the talent and diversity of the very best Spanish and Latin American artists at local, national and international levels. "Edinburgh has a significant Hispanic community. It's important that diverse communities can express their ambition and see their work on an equal footing with that of other backgrounds" Chris Purnell, director of the Edinburgh Mela.

So get ready for the annual party bash, it's Fiesta time again! In the aftermath of Scotland's Independence Referendum, we want to join forces to kick-off the result celebrations at the Hispanic Festival Fiesta! Organised by Edinburgh-based Flamenco dancer and festival director Maria 'Tote' Conte to raise festival funds at the one and only The Jazz Bar. The night's party fun starts with a 'Flamenco Jam Session', featuring all kinds of community locally-based, Spanish (and other Hispanic nationalities eg. Chile, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Mexico, Peru...) musicians, singers and dancers, in a joyfull and colourful spectacle of movement and sound. Then the late slot after midnight features even more dance floor action as the fun 7-piece Secreto Tropical cumbia band takes the stage, supported by DJ Dave Howell and Salsa DJs Freddy Ramirez & Nano Fernandez. Cannae beat it, óle!   Hispanic Festival Fiesta! will be in The Jazz Bar, 1A Chambers St, Edinburgh EH1 1HR, on Fri 19 Sep 9pm-3am, with entry from 8pm. Tickets are £7 (£5) -cash only- available at the door.  


After the success of last year's Edinburgh Flamenco Flashmob we are delighted to have the support of Big Lottery Communities 2014 to realise a new exciting flashmob project: Flamenco Ad Libitum Flashmob, in partnership with Capability Scotland's E2 service and the kind support of Dance Base. This community project includes artists and members of the Edinburgh Flamenco Community plus five participants with physical disability and their carers. Following a period of six weeks of improvisation workshops and choreographic rehearsals, all participants will culminate the project with a flashmob live music and dance performance at the spectacular Grand Gallery in the National Museum of Scotland. Unmissable!   Flamenco Ad Libitum Flashmob will be in the Grand Gallery at the National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street on Fri 10 October 1pm. This is a free public event and suggestions for new projects are welcome.


Hispanic Festival, with the funding support of BEMIS Scotland, through Homecoming Scotland 2014, is pleased to present award winning visual artists Julio Campos and Antonio Castro in a new art exhibition at the fantastic Gayfield Creative Spaces. Julio Campos, Madrileño artist, currently living in London, studied at Edinburgh College of Art, where he was commissioned by Scottish thinker Maryel Gardyne, to illustrate the cover and the images contained in her book 'The atom and the Octave'. This experience deeply inspired the artist to realize his works series called Thread Portals. Campos' exhibition 'Hilandera' (Spinner) is a Thread Portal site specific installation of cone shapes and harmonic patterns to celebrate multicultural connections in memory of Maryel Gardyne.  

Sevilla photographer and 2014 British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP) Edinburgh College Award winner Antonio Castro exhibits 'Spanish in Edinburgh' showing for the first time his 1st Prize for Social Photography and Portrait and Student of the Year Award. This exhibition showcases Castro's way of portraying Spaniards in the city that has accepted them. This project sprang up as a result of the economic situation that Spain and many other European countries have been suffering lately: forcing many people to say goodbye to their families and friends; leaving everything they knew behind them. His aim has been to produce aesthetically interesting composed images that are appealing to look at.  Castro explains "They are stolen moments from everyday situations, a glimpse of the solitude and sometimes overwhelming experience of being far away from home".  

'Hilandera' and 'Spanish in Edinburgh' exhibition opening night will include live performances and talks and will be in the Gayfield Creative Spaces, 11 Gayfield Square, Edinburgh, EH1 3NT on Tue 14 October 6pm. This one week exhibition will be open until Tue 21 October 6pm. This is a free event and donations are welcome.


Hispanic Festival is also coming to Dance Live, a Citymoves Dance Agency project, at The Lemon Tree in Aberdeen with Cumbia Dance Workshops and Cumbia Latin band Secreto Tropical to make people dance the night away! Performing music rooted in the trees of the Amazon Jungle but heard throughout the Latin American continent, their highly energetic nine piece line up comes complete with traditional percussion and guitars, sax and vintage synths, all promising non-stop dancing and fun!   Cumbia is a music genre popular throughout Latin America that began as a courtship dance and originated in Colombia's Caribbean coastal region and Panama. Dancing Cumbia is all about the rhythm. Once you master the rhythm, it is easy to move to the beat. This class is suitable for all, whether you have danced before or are a complete novice; flowers, shawls, waistcoats, and sombreros welcome!    

Cumbia Dance Workshops 6pm and Secreto Tropical 8pm will be in The Lemon Tree, 5 W North St, Aberdeen,  AB24 5AT on Thu 16 Oct. Tickets are £11 (includes ticket to the dance workshop and the performance) and are available now on 01224 337688 or online at


Our last and beautiful festival event Searching for the Wishing Line, consists of a workshop and a performance by Venezuelan artist Saras Feijoo, and will see us reaching to new communities in Whale Arts, a community arts organisation based in Wester Hailes, Edinburgh. This project, funded by BEMIS Scotland, through Homecoming Scotland 2014, was born in an explorative Talent Development programme awarded by Creative Scotland and supported by Lyra Theatre and Imaginate. It is an art-cross immersive site specific installation piece for children and families, representing a very subtle, gentle and colourful journey that gives them the necessary space to relax, enjoy and have fun while getting in touch with their insights.   Searching for the Wishing Line workshop will be in Whale Arts, 30 Westburn Grove, Edinburgh, EH14 2SA, on Fri 17 Oct 2pm. Searching for the Wishing Line performance will commence in Whale Arts at 4pm. For Free tickets call 0131 458 3267 or email    

/ ENDS  

For media enquiries and interviews, review tickets and images please contact Maria Conte, Festival Director on 07813 159 823 or  


Fantastic flamenco: Edinburgh’s Hispanic Festival


WE may not share the weather, but according to the organiser of Edinburgh's Hispanic ­Festival, the Capital has a lot of similarities with Spain.

And the connections ­between the two cultures will be celebrated in style - and with a lot of flamenco - at this year's event.

Now in its tenth year, the Hispanic Festival has a lot to celebrate, and organisers are keen to get local people revved up and ready to party.

One of the highlights will be the Edinburgh Flamenco Flashmob, which will see a spectacular choreographed performance in the ­gallery of the National Museum of Scotland.

"Everything is special this year," says festival ­director Maria Conte. "It's our tenth year so we want to celebrate that.

"The Edinburgh Flamenco Flashmob will be fantastic. The museum has very kindly agreed to let us do it there and the space is very dramatic.

"Last year we did it on The Mound and it was really well received so this year we wanted to get the community involved a lot more. We have

been working in partnership with Capability Scotland in a project supported by the Big Lottery Communities 2014. We are working with people who are disabled and their carers and they have been doing a lot of workshops to prepare for it. They've had lots of fun and it's been great for us as we've never worked with disabled groups before."

The flamenco flashmob, which is free and open to all, takes place on October 10 at 1pm.

This year, for the first time, the festival will be venturing into Wester Hailes, where it will host a workshop and ­performance by Venezuelan artist Saras Feijoo.

The Searching for the Wishing Line project, funded through Homecoming Scotland, will be based within Whale Arts, and is an installation piece for children and families. For free tickets call 0131-458 3267 or e-mail ­

Maria says she is excited to be taking the festival to other communities in the Capital.

"We want to reach out to different areas of Edinburgh. It's a privilege to be able to take this into Wester Hailes, it means we have more friends everywhere. There's lots of young local artists taking part in the festival too, we have opened it up to everyone. It's for people who enjoy Hispanic culture. A lot of people who have studied in America or Spain tend to enjoy it, and take the opportunity to speak Spanish to each other. We just want to show people in Scotland that this is our culture and we want to share it."

Other highlights of the Hispanic Festival include art ­exhibitions at Gayfield Creative Spaces by award-winning visual artists Julio Campos and Antonio Castro, which both open on October 14.

Castro's collection, Spanish in Edinburgh, is a unique project showing the experiences of the many Spaniards who moved to the Capital as a result of the difficult financial situation they were facing back home.

"A lot of Spanish people come here because of the economy in Spain," explains Maria. "But another reason is also because Scotland is a fantastic country and Edinburgh is a beautiful city and people are so welcoming and friendly.

"Obviously we don't have the same weather, but there are so many things the same. We feel very culturally similar and we have a lot of things that we share. Scotland and Spain are such beautiful places."

She adds: "If you're walking through Edinburgh you can speak Spanish quite a lot. The figures do vary, but there's more than ever at the moment. According to the Spanish Consulate there's 30,000 Spanish people in Scotland. In Edinburgh there's 10,000 minimum."

The Hispanic Festival has been such a hit in Edinburgh that this year it is also taking some events to Aberdeen.

"The first one was in 2004 and we have been moving on and on over the years," says Maria. "We have struggled with funding cuts and sometimes we don't have enough sponsorship or supporters, but we just have to move on and work so we make sure it can go ahead. It's very challenging but the festival is run by family and friends so we have a lot of support."

Chris Purnell, director of Edinburgh Mela, adds: "Edinburgh has a significant Hispanic community. It's important diverse communities express their ambition and see their work on an equal footing with other backgrounds."

Click Evening News to read the full article


Five Star Review for Hispanic Festival Querencia


At the end of Saturday's Hispanic Festival showcase, a voice came unbidden into my head, asking: Where on earth do they find these people? The answer is, of course, starkly obvious but the festival and its director, Maria Conte, do seem to have a hotline to a supply chain of extraordinary flamenco talents.

  This latest in a run that's becoming almost routine in its brilliance, with direction from Conte herself, majored on the character of the participants rather than technique, although you have to know what you're about also, one presumes, to pull off the moves and percussive footwork that are involved.  

Querencia translates as fondness and there was love in all its guises in the dramas that unfolded in guitar music, raw, vocal chord-paring song and flamboyant movement. Guitarist Pedro Sierra provided an expert soundtrack, setting the scene with improbably fluent, at times searingly intense commentaries. He's currently Ballet Flamenco de Andalucia's music director, so you'd expect expertise, but his feeling for the dancers' needs was further explained in a guitar-free encore where he proved no mean mover himself.   Often the only accompaniment required was hand-clapping or the fervent, whole-hearted singing of La Tobala as grand master Jose Galvan variously primped comically, suggested proud defiance or removed his jacket with a flourish that was part torero, part balletic hero. His daughter Pastora all but filled the stage with her personality and dress-lifting manoeuvres that carried both a certain hauteur and a sense of fun, not to mention her voluminous shawl. All in all a fantastically entertaining evening that made the exit on to a wet Clerk Street seem disorientating and prosaic by comparison.

Rob Adams, The Herald, 21 October 2013 


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