When The Herald launched its first Edinburgh Festivals awards back in 1995, we had, it should be admitted, no real plan for the Herald Angels beyond a desire to recognise excellence at what we believed to be the world’s premier cultural occasion.
Our sum total of prizes that year was less than a dozen, but we chose pretty well. The first recipients included stage director Peter Sellars, whose latest collaboration (with writer Toni Morrison and others) Desdemona, has recently been seen in London, dancer and choreographer Yvette Boszik, still astounding audiences in her native Hungary at this summer’s dance festival there, Glasgow’s Citizens’ Theatre (resurgent under new artistic director Dominic Hill), and actor Kath Howden, superb this year in Beckett’s Footfalls at that venue.
This year the awards will take place on two days throughout August, and are sponsored by premium Belgian beer Heverlee who will be sampling on the 16th, and Edinburgh Napier University who are exclusively sponsoring the final day of the awards on the 23rd.
Each week our guest presenters hand out rather more of the treasured trophies these days. The cluster of Angels are joined most weeks by a supreme Archangel award to someone who has made a sustained and valued contribution over a number of years. We also have our Little Devil, presented to those who have overcome any manner of gremlins or more serious setbacks to produce the goods.
The most recent addition to the family is the Wee Cherub, which goes to the writer of the best review of an Edinburgh International Festival show written by an Edinburgh school pupil participating in The Herald Young Critics Project with the EIF’s development department.
The Herald Angels have spread their wings to cover all aspects of the phenomenon that is Edinburgh in August, but have stayed crucially unrestricted in the way that The Herald’s respected critical team can award them to any worthy winner, from the more celebrated and famous seasonal visitors to an unrecognised backroom contribution.
We critics get a real kick out of meeting the people whose work we admire, and through the pages of The Herald and this website, so can you.