Pilvi Takala, exhibition opening at CCA, Glasgow International 2016. Photography by Alan Dimmick.

CCA has long been a hub for the arts, and it’s at no point more evident than during a festival.

Festivals are a vital part of our programme and create a vibrant, lively atmosphere within the venue, so we’re extremely lucky that so many choose to make CCA their base.

In 2015-16, we hosted twenty eight diverse festivals, across a wide range of artforms. Our open-source programming policy enables us to allocate our venue spaces for free, with support available from CCA’s programming, technical, administrative, communications and front-of-house teams. This is particularly important for new festivals who benefit from this kind of logistical support, and allows for the development of new ideas and approaches.

One of the largest festivals in the city, Glasgow International, a world-renowned showcase of local and international contemporary art, is a major part of our visual art programme. In recent years, solo CCA exhibitions by Rob Kennedy, Khaled Hourani and Pilvi Takala have attracted large numbers of visitors to our gallery during GI.

Long-term Glasgow favourite – Celtic Connections – comes to CCA in the guise of BBC Scotland’s live radio and television broadcasts as acts from across the festival perform in our theatre in front of a live audience. Another important partner in our annual music festival line-up is Counterflows. Every April, Counterflows brings artists from across the world to Glasgow for a celebration of the possibilities in music, cross-cultural ideas and discovering the new. Similarly, exploring new ideas in music is central to Sound Thought, an annual postgraduate sonic arts festival; GIOfest, Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra’s annual improvisation festival, Glasgow Americana Festival and Cryptic’s Sonica, dedicated to exceptional international sonic arts.

A diverse range of film festivals also choose to make CCA their home. At the start of each
year we welcome Glasgow Film Festival – the city’s largest celebration of film brings world premieres, star guests and ever-increasing audiences together in venues across Glasgow. Hot on its heels is Glasgow Short Film Festival, which makes CCA its hub every March. GSFF is the largest competitive short film event in Scotland, championing new local and international cinema talent.

Many of the film festivals at CCA focus on important social issues. Take One Action, Scotland’s global change cinema project brings together filmmakers, artists, activists and audiences to screen acclaimed international cinema. Africa in Motion Film Festival brings the best of the continent’s cinema to Scotland. The long-running Document Human Rights Film Festival is Scotland’s oldest social action film festival and presents screenings, discussions, workshops and exhibitions focussed on current international issues and the humanity at the heart of it. We also host Glasgow events for Scalarama – the UK’s biggest alternative film season.

Queer culture is celebrated in two regular film festivals. The bi-annual Glitch, devised by CCA Cultural Tenants Digital Desperados, focusses on films by and about queer, trans and intersex people of colour. The Scottish Queer International Film Festival had its inaugural event at CCA last year, with a four day extravaganza of screenings, performance, workshops, discussions and parties. Both of these festivals offer free screenings, BSL interpretation and seek to provide a welcoming, accessible environment for everyone.

Not all festivals at CCA focus on a single artform. Glasgow Comic Festival presents workshops, talks, residencies, internationally-acclaimed comic book artists and film screenings. The Scottish Mental Health Arts & Film Festival, led by the Mental Health Foundation, covers music, film, visual art, theatre, dance, and literature challenging preconceived ideas about mental health. The Mental Health Foundation also premiered a new free annual festival at CCA this year; Declaration explored health and human rights through conversations, provocations, performances and film screenings. Equally, not all festivals are an annual or biannual event, one-off and occasional celebrations come in to our programme from time to time such as ArtCOP, The Festival of Ian Smith and The
Village Storytelling Festival.

The building’s scale, flexibility and capacity for social space makes us a natural home for festivals. Saramago plays a big role in festivals at CCA as the bar and café provide a relaxed environment allowing audiences to come together for discussion, relax between screenings and enjoy a drink after events when the Terrace Bar has been transformed into a Festival Club. Our location in the heart of Glasgow city centre also make us perfectly placed as a festival location. We’re well-connected by public transport, in close proximity to other major venues and our building is increasingly accessible to all audiences.

Our programming approach is central to the experimental nature of CCA and our audiences too are experimental in nature, willing to try new things and support both emerging and established festivals. CCA strives to be welcoming, a place where people and creative ideas are accepted. The diverse range of festivals that make our building their home are a huge part of that, and, in turn, our festivals are all innately welcoming of performers, filmmakers, artists and audiences.

Editorial first published in September - October 2016 CCA Brochure.