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Citizen @North Edinburgh Arts

Saturday 11 May
presented by the Edinburgh International Book Festival and North Edinburgh Arts

Edinburgh is a world-renowned cultural hub, but do we hear the stories of the city’s population in all its diversity? As boundaries between neighbours – local, national, global – shift, what does community mean today?

This afternoon-long celebration showcases the stories, ideas, and passions of the local community. From Muirhouse to Morden to Wester Hailes, we’ve asked what being a citizen means in today’s world. Those stories are in the spotlight here, and we want to hear yours too.

Meet neighbours from across the city, make your voice heard and tell the world what it means to live in these streets, this city, this country.

Citizen Stories
2.30pm – 3.15pm
Free ticket required
Book in person or online:

Led by authors Eleanor Thom and Claire Askew, people from around the city have shared their ideas, memories, passions and more, reflecting on belonging and what defines home to them. Hear some of their tales in live story sharings and audio recordings today.

A sound installation featuring some of these stories and field recordings created by interdisciplinary artist Chris Dooks will loop before and after the performance, until 5pm. Free, drop in and out. For more see

Eat Together
4pm – 6pm
Free to all

Food, glorious food! It’s a huge part of our personal and community identities, helping us come together to share stories of life and home. It’s also political in a time of climate concern and food poverty. These ideas are at the heart of Citizen, so we’re providing a free meal for everyone to enjoy – stop by, grab a plate, serve yourself some soul food and have a chat with your neighbours about life, the world, anything!

Aidan O'Rourke & Kit Downes

Aidan O’Rourke & Kit Downes
6pm – 7.45pm
£6 / £3 for Good Neighbour cardholders
Book in person or online:

Words, music, and the disarming drama of stripped-back storytelling. One of Scotland’s most celebrated authors, James Robertson, wrote a story every day for a year – each exactly 365 words. What began as an exercise became a valued ritual and a captivating collection of tales, from the supernatural to the philosophical.

Leading musician Aidan O’Rourke, who plays fiddle in the folk supergroup Lau, followed suit, writing a tune a day in response to Robertson’s stories. Now, alongside pianist Kit Downes, O’Rourke presents a selection of tunes interwoven with stories read by students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Together their words and music reference old myths, folk legends, everyday lives, hard truths, tender tales, and the transformative power of storytelling.

Please note: there is no support act and the performance will begin at 6pm, and there will be an interval. Bar open before and during performance.


Free Activities @ Citizen
2pm – 6pm
Free, drop in and out

Get your creative juices flowing, start thinking about what being a Citizen means to you, and have fun!

As you arrive you’ll spot the Super Power Agency Bus outside – hop aboard and become a literacy superhero. Our special secret super agents show you how to start writing your own tales through fun, simple activities.

In the Studio, visit illustrator and colouring book maker Eilidh Muldoon add to an amazing collage mural of your neighbourhoods, and why not stop by a special comic book making station? Comics artist Tanya Roberts teaches you some tricks to draw your own characters.

See the Pearls of Wisdom, stunning clay sculptures of north Edinburgh residents made by artist Kevin Dagg in celebration of local ‘living memories’, then transform your own face into a work of art with face-painting fun.

Artist Mitch Miller shows off his stunning dialectograms in the Gallery – incredible drawings that illustrate our relationships with the places we live – and shows you how to make your own. Then head out into the world (or at least the garden) with the madcap costumed songs-and-stories duo Macastory, who’ll tell you some terrific tall tales about Edinburgh.

See specially selected films of Edinburgh from the National Library of Scotland’s Moving Image Archive, pop your own tale in our handmade story box and see more of the creations coming from our Citizen programme across the city.

About Citizen

We’re delighted to be part of Citizen,  a new long-term  creative programme working in partnership with the Edinburgh International Book Festival and other organisations across the city. The project aims to give a voice to communities, offering local residents an opportunity to explore their connection to each other and their relationship to their local area, looking at how local conversations are heard or echoed on a national or global level.

Eleanor Thom has been appointed as the Citizen Community Writer-in-Residence, and will be working through North Edinburgh Arts with people living and working in the North of the city as well as in partnership with WHALE Arts Agency (Wester Hailes) and Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre (Moredun).

Citizen is part of Edinburgh International Book Festival On The Road, a series of events and activities around Scotland throughout the year.  For more news and updates about the project, please visit

Meet Eleanor Thom

Eleanor, a novelist (The Tin-Kin) and short form fiction writer, will be meeting regularly with local people at North Edinburgh Arts to share stories and experiences about what being a citizen today means. Eleanor will work with writers, musicians, illustrators and other artists to inspire local residents to tell their stories of life in Muirhouse and surrounding areas, and share their views on community, home and their relationship to the wider world.


“I am a community writer-in-residence, and if you have been at North Edinburgh Arts recently you may have seen me there. But perhaps you don’t know that I am looking for people to work with, anyone who likes telling their own stories, or reading and writing. I’ll be working primarily with adults.

Since December I’ve been gardening and knitting, and talking to people, and for the next month or two I want to meet more of the people who use North Edinburgh Arts or live nearby. So I’ll be reaching out in search of anyone with a story to share.

You may wonder why a writer would go to a knit and natter group, especially because I admit I’m not a skilled knitter. The last time I picked up a pair of needles I was pregnant with my daughter, now nearly five. Suddenly there I was, flustering with a very tangled hank of yarn. But I’ve already met people at the group who like to chat and tell stories, even if they don’t consider themselves writers or storytellers (yet). This writing residency will be entirely about people telling their own stories. I will ask questions, provide prompts, suggest themes, and work alongside everyone who wants to take part, but the stories will belong to the storytellers, not me.”


Click here to read a full blog post about Eleanor’s initial experiences at North Edinburgh Arts and how to get involved in the project.

Citizen is part of Edinburgh International Book Festival On The Road, a series of events and activities around Scotland throughout the year.  For more news and updates about the project, please visit


To contact Eleanor about the project, please email

Look out for more  information about workshops, events, and a Citizen project box where writing ideas can be picked up and posted.

Image 1  ©Chris Dooks

Image 2 Knitwork courtesy of Eleanor Thom