January 26th was the last day of Basque music at the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, but the #ScotlandGoesBasque project has only begun. Celtic Connections was the first step in the Etxepare Institute’s Basque window in Scotland, with events scheduled throughout 2019. For both the bands and music sector professionals who took part in the cultural gathering, the experience was perceived as positive.
Etxepare Basque Institute director Irene Larraza said that the Connecting Cultures events on January 24th and 25th for industry professionals “were very professionally organised”. The attendees had the opportunity to participate in many activities, such as individual talks, guided tours, speed meetings and a networking dinner. Alex Aginagalde, Etxepare cultural expert, considered the last two particularly interesting. “The speed meetings let us talk for 3 minutes with up to 20 different professionals in just an hour,” said Aginagalde. “At the networking dinner, the organisation made us change places for each dish, so we could talk to different people.” The Institute’s Director of Culture, Imanol Otaegi, added that “the timetable was strictly respected, which helped to efficiency manage the busy schedule”.
The representatives of organisations, agencies, and band professionals from the Basque Country gave very well-prepared presentations. “They took their job very seriously and made a huge effort to communicate efficiently in English,” said Larraza. Referring to the British professionals there, Larraza added that “they came with great interest in forging commercial relationships for the future. They were truly interested in Basque culture. Not only did they not come to the meetings, but also to the concerts”.
In general, promising prospects emerged between Basque and British professionals. “The Institute also made an offer to festival organisers: if they agree to hire more than two Basque bands for a festival, the Institute will cover the transportation costs, provided that a formal agreement is signed,” added Larraza.
The performances by the Basque bands at Celtic Connections were also successful. Huntza, Kalakan, Korrontzi and Oreka Tx were the bands chosen to represent the Basque Country, as well as the multicultural project Tosta Banda. “The halls were very well chosen, and the shows very good,” said Otaegi. The Scottish audience extended a warm welcome to the Basque bands, and almost all the venues were filled. “The bands came home very pleased with the experience: it is very different to travel alone than as part of a larger programme. They also underlined the importance of continuing organising projects of this kind,” said Larraza.
The aim of #ScotlandGoesBasque is to strengthen the relationship between the Basque Country and Scotland through culture, arts and language. The goal was met in Glasgow at Celtic Connections: Basque culture was clearly present, and many relationships were forged. The Institute will organise more activities at the most important festivals of Scotland over the course of the year, focusing on different artistic disciplines.