Welcome to the Edinburgh Student Arts Festival

The Urban Story of Briana Pegado, Founder of ESAF

ESAF is a social enterprise that initially provided emerging creatives with a platform to showcase their work to the public. We have since evolved into an organisation that provides a space for anyone to give creativity a go.

ESAF is Scotland’s first ever youth-led multi-arts festival that brings together all five higher and further education institutions across Edinburgh. Originally supported by the University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Students's Association (EUSA), Queen Margaret University and Queen Margaret University Students' Association (EUSA), the festival was set up by the President of Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) 2014-2015 and embodies the values of student-led enterprise.

Where We Are Now

In May 2016, we were named one of Scotland's top 10 most socially innovative social enterprises. 

Over two years we have showcased and/or provided opportunities for a total of 849 artists, creatives, volunteers and volunteer staff. We have supported over 15 creatives with commissioned work for graphic design, copyediting, internships, full time employment, web development and a range of other creative work.

In the same period, over 3,081 members of the public have attended our events, exhibitions, previews and workshops. Our awards and shortlistings to date include: awarded NUS Scotland ‘Best Student Opportunities Award’, nominated for the NUS UK Best Student Opportunities Award, nominated for Creative Edinburgh City Award, our Director was nominated for the Creative Edinburgh Student Award, ‘Social Innovation Ideation Award’, recipient of the Social Innovation Ideations Awards, recipient of the Social Innovation Incubation Awards, and our 2016 festival was featured in the top ten activities to be part of for the month of February ‘The List’ magazine. 


Our First Year

ESAF launched its first year February 6-13th 2015. It took place over 7 days, within 6 venues that spanned from the Assembly Roxy, the Pleasance, Gayfield Creative Spaces & Whitespace Gallery, Bedlam Theatre, Churchill Theatre, and Dundas Street Gallery. We had 50 volunteers from all 5 institutions, 11 technical volunteers, sound assistants, lighting designers, stage manager and assistant stage managers from Edinburgh School of Lighting and Sound. We ran over 20 performances.

Over 93 visual artists and 7 collectives, 166 performance artists including our speaker and workshop series, and 17 stall market holders. This excludes the 10 visual artists that participated in the Creativity Takes Courage exhibition at Dundas Street Gallery. 

By working with creative partners such as Creative Edinburgh, Codebase and the On the Rocks Festival in St Andrews– we give student artists access to Edinburgh's wider creative community.

In our first year we won the National Union of Student Scotland 2015 Best Student Opportunities Award and were nominated for the Creative Edinburgh 2015 City Award.