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Today, we're announcing our Safe to Be Me™ Festival 2021 programme; a digital festival of dance to celebrate diversity, made possible with the support of Aberdeen Standard Investments.

Following the success of its schools programme, Safe to Be Me™ moves online, launching as a digital festival on Monday 10th May. Running throughout the month, it will see the company engage with young people aged 10 – 23 to deliver a series of digital dance sessions, inspirational talks and multi-artform workshops that explore identity, acceptance and respect.

Working directly with schools and community groups across Scotland, with opportunity for international engagement, the festival will present opportunities for young people to engage with the programme’s focused areas of ableism, bigotry, family diversity, homophobia, racism, and transphobia. In line with key Scottish Government targets to address bullying, discrimination, and prejudice in these areas, Safe to Be Me™ has been successfully delivered to over 1,000 young people since 2019.

The festival aims to inspire creative thinking and open up conversation, using movement as a tool to discuss and explore intersectional topic areas, in a programme that includes:

  • The world premiere of a new dance film created by Emmy Award-nominated filmmaker Fx Goby, exploring themes of pride and shame through movement and dance.
  • A global callout inviting young people aged between 12 – 23 years old to create 1-minute dance films, set to new music by young composers linked to Intercultural Youth Scotland, responding to the festival’s themes of acceptance, identity, and respect.
  • A collaboration between the dancers of Scottish Ballet Youth Exchange and composers of Intercultural Youth Scotland Block Beats to create 3-minute dance films during the festival.
  • A series of inspirational talks from Scottish Ballet dancers and industry role models, sharing their experiences of training, working in professional dance, and other areas of the sector; discussing creativity, motivation, and overcoming challenges.
  • Creative workshops that introduce young people to new solo dance works, performed by Scottish Ballet’s dance artists, that invite discussion about family diversity.
  • Dance and literary workshops that explore gender identity by inviting participants to express themselves through ‘dance at desk’ sessions, before guiding young people in creating poetry in response to Selkie / Secret Me by Rachel Plummer.

Scottish Ballet’s Safe to Be Me™ project launched in 2019 and, it has since, engaged with over 1000 young people to help empower and support them in feeling safe and confident in who they are.

This has been achieved through the delivery of 54 dance workshops, to 37 schools across Scotland, with one young person noting that they ‘learnt that you can be whoever you want to be, and it is okay to be who you are.’

Initially, the project engaged with Primary 6 pupils, aged 9 – 11 but as the project moves online, the digital festival aims to widen accessibility and engagement through its broad programme of events this year.

Safe to Be Me™ has been proudly supported by Aberdeen Standard Investments since 2019. The programme aligns with the company’s core value of encouraging diversity, and their corporate vision to work towards a culture of inclusion where everyone is able to be fully themselves at work.

This year’s Safe to Be Me™ Festival has been programmed in consultation with ConyachEdinburgh International FestivalIntercultural Youth Scotland (IYS)LGBT Youth Scotland and Sparkle – The National Transgender Charity.

‘At Scottish Ballet, we want to bring the benefits of dance to everyone and are excited that more people will have the opportunity to connect with the core values of Safe to Be Me™ by presenting it as a digital festival this year. As a company, we are committed to engaging with people from all backgrounds; using dance and movement as a tool to promote, understand and celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion across communities’

Christopher Hampson, CEO/Artistic Director

‘We’re thrilled to continue our support of the pioneering Safe to Be Me™ programme which acts as a powerful tool to help Scotland’s children develop compassion for others and confidence in themselves. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Scottish Ballet we’ve been able to move the project online, using dance to engage with a wider group of young people, all with different backgrounds and different needs. Not only will the programme continue to encourage acceptance and inclusion amongst all the participants, it will help them prepare to thrive in an exponentially diverse world.’

Lynne Connolly, Global Head of Inclusion and Diversity at Aberdeen Standard Investments,

‘Scottish Ballet's Safe to Be Me™ Festival gives young people a great opportunity to create and express themselves, providing them a platform to create awareness and to showcase their talent in music, dance and film. IYS are glad to be partnered with Scottish Ballet in delivering projects safely through COVID and encouraging young people to continue creating and keeping their minds engaged through the lockdowns and recovery period. ’

Khaleda Noon, Founder and Director of Intercultural Youth Scotland

‘We have been humbled to see the direct impact that Safe to Be Me™ has had in schools and hope that, by moving and expanding the programme online, that the Festival will continue to use creative and critical thinking to promote acceptance and respect, and celebrate diversity.’

Catherine Cassidy, Director of Engagement