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Full Merchant City Festival Programme Available

18/07/2012
​Author Louise Welsh, who wrote the hit novel The Cutting Room set in Glasgow, has collaborated with Collective Architecture to produce a new audio trail entitled Merchant City Voices as part of the 2012 Merchant City Festival. 
The free self-guided tour, offered from 10am to 10pm on Saturday 28 July, headlines the Discover Merchant City strand of the festival, which takes place in Glasgow from 25 to 29 July.  The full programme, which includes 300 events across 11 arts strands, is available in hard copy across the city and to download at www.merchantcityfestival.com from today (Tuesday 10 July).
The current writer in residence for The University of Glasgow and Glasgow School of Art recently spoke about the new piece of work.  Louise Welsh said: “The series of soundscapes explores Glasgow’s involvement in the tobacco and sugar industries and contemporary responses to the system of forced labour that it depended on – the transatlantic slave trade.  The audio trail draws on writings by Frederick Douglass – a freed slave and political activist and also imagines the viewpoints of the city merchants, slaves and abolitionists.
“The soundscapes are a collaboration with Jude Barber of Collective Architecture and were developed in association with Northern Light and a real highlight was hearing it being brought to life in a number of recordings by professional actors and students from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
“I've just received the finished 2012 Merchant City Festival brochure and it looks fab - what brilliant events! That's my social life sorted for a while!”
Continuing the theme of moving throughout the Merchant City, Bellrock Theatre Company presents the highly regarded audio play Blood and Roses as part of Merchant City Festival.  Witchcraft, fairytales and a modern-day love story are drawn together into a play that tells the tale of loyalty, love and sacrifice spanning 400 years.  Using magic art works and the hidden beauty of the City’s dark corners, Bellrock takes its audience on a journey that unravels family mysteries from war-torn Russia to modern day Scotland.
Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of the Merchant City Festival said:  “Taking a look at the full programme, which is out today, I’m increasingly excited by the wealth of performance on offer.  We have productions, events and activities across the genres of street arts, music, dance, family, comedy, design, theatre, film, visual arts and food.
“It is fitting to see the number of productions that relate to sport and movement in some fashion, given the Merchant City Festival begins on the same day as the London 2012 Olympic Games and as our preparations for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games move to a new level.”
Aimed directly at an adult audience is the Merchants of Magic Cabaret, a late night cabaret show taking place in the Old Fruitmarket.  Staring Scotland’s finest masters of prestidigitation, Chris De Rosa of The Art of Illusion and The Great Aziz are hotly anticipated to astound audiences with some of the most awesome manifestations and conjuring ever performed outside of Las Vegas. 
 Moving from theatre to dance, 2012 is a Big Dance year with several major new large-scale works set to be performed around Merchant City, which were created for the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.  Dancing Voices is a unique, large scale performance bringing together 150 older dancers, a brand new choir and a live band. 
Devised and directed by Natasha Gilmore of Barrowland Ballet, in collaboration with the Southbank Centre in London the performers take the audience on a musical journey from 1948 – the year of the last UK Olympic Games – to the present day.   The performance, which is free to attend, reflects social upheaval, political change and personal revelation.  
The 2011 Merchant City Festival was a record-breaking success with the festival enjoying over 90,000 attendances across the four day festivities.  The 11th festival to take place in 2012 in Glasgow’s cultural quarter offers a massive 300 events and performances spread across 75 venues.
The fantastic music, culture and artistic vision on show across the five days are a reflection of the brilliant arts organisations and venues Glasgow has to offer.  The Merchant City Festival encourages locals and visitors to the city to explore some of the rich heritage, architecture and history of the area, before stopping to appreciate its vibrant café culture, shops, bars and restaurants. 
Jenni Morrison from Merchant Square said “The Merchant City Festival is one of the most exciting events in our calendar, and we are proud to continue our longstanding support. We look forward to welcoming visitors throughout the festival, whether it’s to enjoy the entertainment on the Merchant Square stage or to join in the celebrations in our many bars and restaurants.”
The Merchant City Festival will run from 25 July to 29 July, with the 2012 Experience continuing until 3 August when Glasgow will host eight Olympic football matches at Hampden as part of London 2012, for live updates follow @MerchCityFest on Twitter or visit www.merchantcityfestival.com.
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