Edinburgh’s Richard Demarco to receive honorary doctorate

Richard Demarco, Edinburgh artist. Picture: Graham Hamilton
Richard Demarco, Edinburgh artist. Picture: Graham Hamilton
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PROFESSOR Richard Demarco, artist and patron of European visual and performing arts, is to receive an honorary doctorate from Leeds Beckett University.

Born in Edinburgh in 1930, Richard Demarco has been a major figure in the promotion of European arts for more than 60 years, through the Edinburgh International Festival which he has attended every year since its inception in 1947.

In 1963, he co-founded the Capital’s Traverse Theatre before establishing the Richard Demarco Gallery three years later. For many years, the gallery promoted cross-cultural links, presenting European artists within Scotland and establishing connections for British artists across Europe. In the early 1990s, the gallery became the Demarco European Art Foundation.

Mr Demarco has been a keen promoter of Anglo-cultural links with Eastern Europe. During the Cold War, he crossed the Iron Curtain over 60 times.

As a result of his 70 years of work, he has amassed unique material: including artworks, photographs, audio and moving image material, correspondence, posters, and programmes in the form of a multi-lingual library, now on display at the Summerhall performance venue. However, part of the Demarco Archive is in the collection of The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. It has become a unique academic resource for scholars all over the world studying European arts, and the history of the Edinburgh Festival.

Over his years of involvement in the Festival, Mr Demarco has put on a wide variety of challenging theatre productions and art exhibitions. As an artist, he is represented in over 2500 art collections, including the the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Government Collection and the National Gallery of Lithuania.

His contributions to all the aspects of the arts have been recognised, not only with both an OBE and a CBE, but also similar honours from Poland, Romania, Germany, Italy, France and the United States. The European Parliament named him European Citizen of the Year in 2013.

In 2010, The Royal Scottish Academy presented an exhibition, ‘A Life in Pictures’, honouring his 80th birthday, alongside another ‘Ten Dialogues: Richard Demarco – Scotland and the European Avant-Garde’ celebrating his fruitful collaborations with major artists.

And last year, he was honoured by an exhibition at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow.

Mr Demarco will be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts by Leeds Beckett University on July 27. Chancellor Sir Bob Murray said: “Richard has long been a supporter of performing arts here at Leeds Beckett. He commissioned our University’s first performance at the Edinburgh Festival, and our work with the Demarco European Art Foundation has resulted in many student and staff projects being performed at the Festival.”