“Way back in 1999 I was looking online for web based events for visual artists in the annual Edinburgh Festival. As a visual artist and photographer I had created my own online gallery only a few months previously and was keen to become involved in the local Festival scene.

Having discovered that there was literally nothing in place I decided to host an online Edinburgh Festival project for the internet’s creative community as a freely given gift from a single Edinburgh based artist.

With this in mind and only six weeks to organise participationI sent out 12 invitations to some of my favourite artists using the internet to share their work. My expectation was that the proposed event would gather interest from maybe if I was very lucky 30 or so artists.

Over the following weeks participation requests went from a mere trickle to a roaring flood with new entries coming in every fifteen minutes on the final day. The idea captured the imagination of those involved who widely shared information and invitations to join in.

In August 1999 the first Edinburgh International Internet Festival (E.I.I.Festival) opened with Edinburgh Fringe reviews and interviews alongside artists, photographers, musicians, writers, poets, theatre companies and creative websites from over 50 countries over all five continents. In addition to the first play written live over the internet, the E.I.I.Festival 1999 inspired a special online exhibition of art ana calligraphy from over 100 artists across China, Hong Kong and what was then known as Burma.

Creative Scotland and other creative resources later acknowledged that the Festival was the first online international event of its kind. Over the next nine years I was delighted and honoured to host the Festival which included the year long The Gathering – Scotland’s Millennium Arts Project which beat the previous E.I.I.Festival to became the largest online international event of its time.

Despite the success of the event Creative Scotland and Edinburgh Council steadfastly refused to fund the project which remained true to the principle of a freely given gift to the creative community from an artist within Edinburgh. Increasing funding constraints and Edinburgh Council launching a series of Festival initiatives which at best can be described as “mirroring” the core elements of the E.I.I.Festival brought the Festival to a close in 2008.

Over the nine years the Edinburgh International Internet Festival was in existence I had the immense pleasure of working with the finest creative talent working online and was truly humbled by the faith, support and assistance they placed in myself and my work. It was an amazing personal experience that also helped me develop my own skills and talents in a form that still underlines my work to this very day.” – Wullie Steele