Impressario and local ambassador for the arts Professor Richard Demarco was the seventh person to be honoured with the Edinburgh Award at City Chambers tonight.
Demarco received an engraved Loving Cup at the ceremony, presented by the Lord Provost and Ron Butlin, the Edinburgh Makar, recited a poem commissioned especially for the occasion.
Demarco also had an impression of his handprints made on a flagstone which will sit in the City Chambers quadrangle alongside those of previous Edinburgh Award recipients Ian Rankin, JK Rowling, George Kerr, Sir Chris Hoy, Professor Peter Higgs and Elizabeth Blackadder.
Donald Wilson, Lord Provost of the City of Edinburgh, called Demarco "a champion for the Scottish arts scene and especially Edinburgh’s art festivals".
“The Edinburgh Award enables the people of Edinburgh to pay a lasting tribute to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the city, and Mr Demarco has done exactly that through his tireless work to promote and present art from around the world and enrich the art exhibitions of the city, not forgetting his addition of the Traverse Theatre to the Edinburgh scene," said Wilson. “Richard is Edinburgh through and through and he is a deserving recipient of one of Edinburgh’s most notable awards.”
Professor Richard Demarco said: “I regard this award as an honouring of all the artists and art patrons who collaborated with me to develop a cultural dialogue between Scotland and the international art world."
The mercurial Demarco was often seen as outside art establishment
“I feel deeply honoured but I am conscious of the countless numbers of all those who have helped me and who share my belief that Edinburgh is a nodal point on the cultural map of the world.”
Nominations for the Edinburgh Award are from Edinburgh citizens and the awarding decision is taken by a judging panel chaired by the Lord Provost, with representatives from all political groups on the City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council and Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce.
The artist and art entrepreneur, who was awarded European Citizen of the Year in August, is represented in more than 2500 art collections and has been recognised on many occasions for promoting cultural links throughout Europe.
Professor Richard Demarco biography
Born in 1930 to an Italian-Irish family in Edinburgh, Professor Richard Demarco went on to co-found The Richard Demarco Gallery in 1966 before establishing the Demarco European Art Foundation.
Appointed Commander of The British Empire (CBE) in 2007 the 83-year old, who has organised hundreds of exhibitions, plays, conferences and performances involving artists and academics from nations around the world, has been praised for his internationalism, and counts the Romanian and German Orders of Merit and the Gold ‘Gloria Artis’ Medal of Poland amongst his previous accolades.
Over the last 50 years Professor Richard Demarco has built up an extensive collection of modern art featuring work by some of the most important figures in 20th century art and more than one million photographs.
He has also enjoyed a long relationship with Edinburgh’s festivals, having attended every Edinburgh Festival since its inception in 1947, and was appointed Director of Edinburgh Festival Contemporary Art exhibition programme in 1967.
In 2010 The Royal Scottish Academy celebrated his 80th birthday with a one-man exhibition entitled ‘A Life in Pictures’ which was presented at The Royal Scottish Academy along with the major exhibition ‘Ten Dialogues: Richard Demarco – Scotland and the European Avant-garde’.
Most recent awards:
Awarded Honorary Fellowship at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance 2010
Delivered Sir Gillies Annual Lecture at The Royal Scottish Academy 2010
Awarded The German Order of Merit 2010
Awarded The Polish ‘Bene Merito’ Medal 2010
Awarded Honorary Doctorate from Southampton Solent University 2011
Awarded Glenfiddich Artist of the Year 2011
Awarded The Gold ‘Gloria Artis’ Medal of Poland 2012
Awarded The Order of Merit for Culture of Romania 2012
Awarded The Great Scot for the Arts 2012
Voted 17/100 Great Scot, Evening News 2013
Voted European Citizen of the Year 2013