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“Time to Shine” Youth Arts Strategy

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 14th May 2014.

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Photo of Patricia Ferguson Patricia Ferguson Labour

I thank Mr Gibson for that. I was coming to his speech next anyway, because I think that he might have misunderstood my reference to Fèisean nan Gàidheal. I have nothing but praise for Fèisean nan Gàidheal, but on top of all the things that Mr Gibson listed—and he was right to list them—it has helped to continue that interest in our traditional instruments, language and music, and it kept that flag flying when it was more difficult to do so in times gone by.

The fèisean have a fantastic reputation, particularly Fèis Rois, and have been really imaginative in the way in which they have used the youth music initiative to take that forward. One of the challenges that we have with the youth music initiative is that, if a young person wants to play the pipes or the bassoon, but goes to a school that happens to have six violins and two violas, it is difficult to meet their request. We must deal with that.

Neil Bibby was right to major on the idea of equalities. He is right to identify issues around looked-after children. We know the challenges that looked-after children face in all aspects of their lives. If we cannot deliver for them in this area, we need to think again. I am pleased that the strategy is going to do that.

I want to talk about equalities in a slightly wider sense, because there are now many communities in Scotland with their own cultures. In the Maryhill integration network in my constituency, people of all cultures come together to enjoy one another’s art, dance, drama and music. That is a joy to behold, and it is a good way of breaking down the barriers that might otherwise exist in an area. It has done that pretty successfully for a number of years.

Liam McArthur drew attention to the value of festivals. He is right to say that festivals are a really important way of enabling people to come together to share an experience and of giving people a stage on which to perform. It strikes me that, if we are talking about an arts award scheme, we might want to think about whether we should also have an annual youth arts festival in Scotland—perhaps at the same time as the Edinburgh festival or another existing festival or perhaps not. Bringing young people together in such a festival would be a creative opportunity that would help them all to raise their game and would give them new ideas about what to do with their futures. If we could harness that kind of potential, we would be doing the whole country a favour.

It is fair to say that everyone who has spoken today has been concerned to ensure that the strategy is for all of Scotland’s young people, regardless of their circumstances. I particularly welcome that.