East Lothian Community Arts project

The project was set up as a community arts/community development project in May 1980 by Theatre Workshop Edinburgh with funding from East Lothian District council, Lothian Region Leisure services and the Scottish Arts Council.

The Long-term aim of the project was to develop a programme of community arts activities which would take into account the needs/aspirations of people living across East Lothian by engaging the interest of local people whether or not they were actively involved in the arts..

In the first six months, the project focused on running drama sessions and play-scheme programmes but, with the appointment of Pat Fitzgerald and Stella Elsdale, it was agreed that the project should be much more wide-ranging and the idea of an exhibition event which would reflect life in East Lothian was agreed.

Little did anyone know how hectic the journey towards “It’s Changed Days Now, Right Enough” would be. (The title was inspired by the comment of an old-timer of Prestonpans who was looking at some photographs of gala days in Prestonpans)

The Exhibition/event looked at various aspects of work and community life in East Lothian. Three generations of fishing, farming and mining families spoke of their own personal experiences and provided photographs of working and home life. The project workers also “went to the dogs”, at Wallyford, and the Races at Musselburgh – for the purposes of research, of course.

Contacts were made entirely by word of mouth. The raw material for the Exhibition depended mainly on the goodwill and generosity of many individuals and a great variety of local groups and organisations.

“It’s Changed Days Now, Right Enough” toured round six venues in the summer of 1981. The supporting programme of events and activities changed at each venue to reflect local groups and organisations had to offer – there were displays and demonstrations by local artists and arts organisations, drama workshops and a day conference for teenagers on issues relating to planning and provision for leisure. Over 7,000 people visited the exhibition.

In addition, Blue Circle Cement sponsored a bus fitted out with a Audio Visual Presentation on the theme of the exhibition* which, with workers from the three industries., toured local primary schools and community groups.

As a follow-up to the exhibition, East Lothian Community History and Arts Trust was established to develop ideas locally, the recordings were lodged with the School of Scottish Studies and the Exhibition and copies of the related archive were lodged with East Lothian District Council.

Stimulated by contacts with local voluntary groups and organisations, the next project was the production of “It’s On” – a leaflet which publicised the range and variety of organisations, events and activities which took place, on a regular basis, District-wide.

*Produced by Film Workshop Trust, funded by Theatre Workshop