Pioneering Scottish art impresario awarded European Citizen’s Prize

Influential Scottish artist and pioneering art impresario Professor Richard Demarco CBE was today awarded a European Citizen’s Prize during a ceremony in Edinburgh at the Office of the European Parliament in Scotland for his decades-long efforts to bridge cultural divides between Western and Eastern Europe. 

The European Citizen's Prize was launched by the European Parliament in 2008 to recognise exceptional achievements by Europeans. It can be awarded for activities that either facilitate cross-border cooperation within the EU or promote better mutual understanding and closer links between citizens or Member States. Laureates can be citizens, groups, associations or organisations. 

Every year each MEP has the right to make one nomination. All nominations are presented to a Chancellery of serving Vice Presidents and former Presidents of the European Parliament, who determine who should receive the award. Winners receive their medals in national award ceremonies and are invited to a European Parliament ceremony in Brussels in October. 

Professor Demarco was nominated this year by Scottish Conservative Euro MP Struan Stevenson, who awarded him with his European Citizen’s Prize medal at today’s ceremony. 

Professor Demarco was co-founder of the Edinburgh-based Traverse Theatre in 1963 before going on to establish the Richard Demarco Gallery. The Gallery promoted cultural links with Eastern Europe and Demarco himself was a keen promoter of Eastern bloc artists. He has also been heavily involved with the Edinburgh Festival Fringe since its inception.

Speaking after the event, Struan said:

“I was happy to put Professor Demarco’s name forward for this prize and was absolutely delighted upon learning that he had won. It is right that with this honour, he assumes his place amongst the European cultural elite.

“Richard is a towering figure in the Scottish arts world with good reason. His contribution to Scottish visual and performance arts is staggering and helped put Edinburgh on the map as a cultural destination in its own right. Helping build the Edinburgh Festival Fringe into the internationally renowned event it is today is testament to his energy, vision and passion for the arts.

“His has worked tirelessly to promote the arts across Europe and this award is indicative of the high esteem in which he is held across the continent.”