Our priority is to do whatever we can to help Scotland's varied and vibrant culture continue to flourish. I plan to meet a wide range of interested people soon to gather ideas about exactly how we make progress on that.
I wish the minister all the very best in what I know is an enjoyable but challenging portfolio.
Investment in culture in Scotland has doubled since devolution and the previous Administration agreed a £20 million increase in funding. Will the minister assure me that her Administration will continue that record funding of the arts in Scotland? If she cannot assure me of that, will she tell the Parliament what she intends to cut?
I have inherited many good things from the previous Executive, for which I thank Patricia Ferguson. However, a new and fresh Administration obviously wants to look anew at how it progresses. I intend to do that in the next few weeks, after which I will happily come back to the Parliament with ideas and plans. I hope that, on many issues, we can make progress together for the benefit of the arts and culture in Scotland.
In the Government's cultural policy, what place will be given to the future of Gaelic? Given the worrying situation in which tiny numbers of children in Scotland use Gaelic in everyday life, will an element of urgency on the issue now enter Government policy?
I understand Mr Allan's concerns. At present, we provide local authorities with Gaelic-specific grant funding toward the cost of providing Gaelic education in their areas. Gaelic may be studied by learners in primary school through the Gaelic language in the primary school programme. Bòrd na Gàidhlig recently published its education strategy as part of the national plan for Gaelic. Among other things, the strategy seeks to expand the availability of Gaelic language in primary schools and the availability of suitably
Will the minister get involved personally in helping to further Scotland's cultural heritage, in line with the Scottish National Party's manifesto? I ask the question in the light of a letter, which I have here, dated 19 October 2005, from one Alex Salmond, a distinguished graduate of the University of St Andrews, in which he offers his personal support for the campaign to achieve world heritage site status for the ancient city of St Andrews. Will the minister meet me to discuss how she and, I hope, the First Minister might help to advance the St Andrews bid?
I congratulate the minister on her appointment.
Will the minister acknowledge the success of the previous Government's youth music initiative, which allows local authorities such as mine—North Lanarkshire—to invest in free specialist music tuition for children? Will she confirm that the initiative will continue? Does she agree that the initiative is important, not only in nurturing our young people's talents, but in building their confidence and self-esteem, as can be seen vividly each year at North Lanarkshire's schools concert, when approximately 1,000 young people play the Glasgow royal concert hall?
I agree with Karen Whitefield, with whom I have attended those concerts many times. North Lanarkshire Council has an extremely vibrant and forward-looking way of dealing with music tuition in schools, which is summed up every year in the concert.
I am considering the youth music initiative, which was supported by the SNP when it was introduced. I would be happy for access to be widened even further in schools so that all children
I, too, welcome Linda Fabiani to her new role. It was not that many years ago that we sat together on the Holyrood progress group, which I thought took considerable bravery on her part. I am pleased to see her in her new job.
Is Linda Fabiani aware of the importance of commercial film and television production in Scotland, which has the potential to be a great economic activity? Does she acknowledge the particularly important part played by the Scottish Highlands and Islands Film Commission in attracting new films and television productions to Scotland? Will she undertake to ensure that Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the other agencies involved with the commission work together constructively to achieve more in this important area of work for the country?
Tavish Scott is absolutely right. Scotland has a potentially great film industry, which is why the Executive will examine how well the United Kingdom tax incentive works in attracting films to Scotland. Depending on the outcome, and after examining similar schemes in other countries, we will proceed with our plans to develop a new scheme, to ensure that Scotland can compete on equal terms to attract and produce high-quality items.