The Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the other national performing companies are committed to performing their work across the whole of Scotland. For its summer tour, the orchestra will travel to the south of Scotland in June. More specifically, it will go to Stranraer’s Ryan centre, Annan academy and Galashiels volunteer hall.
Scotland’s five national performing companies, including the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, are in their 12th year of a direct funding relationship with the Scottish Government, which started in April 2007. For the financial year from April 2019 to March 2020, the Chamber Orchestra was given funding of just over £2 million.
As the cabinet secretary will know, music has always played an important part in Scottish culture, particularly in the south of Scotland, where people will hear it everywhere they go. Does she agree that a future of music participation, particularly at a high level, should be open to all young people? Is she aware of the Education and Skills Committee’s recent report on instrumental music tuition, which shows the growing concern about the inequality of opportunity for young people? Will she join me in ensuring that all young people have the opportunity to participate in music at that high level that the Government is supporting?
I agree with the member. I feel passionately that music tuition should be accessible to all young people. It is unfortunate that some local authorities, including the one that covers my constituency, have chosen to impose extremely high fees where there were none previously. Some councils, however, continue to provide free tuition.
I have responsibility not for education or instrumental music tuition but for the cultural aspects. In successive years, I have managed to protect the youth music initiative, which allows all primary school children to have access to participation. Our challenge is in meeting the growing demand when children go to secondary school. The Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills and I have met John Wallace and the music education progress group, which has been working with a number of partners to see how the vision that Michelle Ballantyne and I share can be realised.