8. To ask the Scottish Government what it can do to support the re-establishment of the O2 ABC venue in Glasgow. (S5O-03906)
Although I am unable to comment on a live planning case, I recognise the hugely significant social, cultural and economic role that live music venues play in our towns and cities. With our partners such as Creative Scotland and Highland and Islands Enterprise, we support music venues across Scotland through, for example, major festivals, our national performing companies and the inclusion of the agent of change principle in primary legislation.
Will the cabinet secretary acknowledge the importance of the O2 ABC to Glasgow’s economy and to its status as UNESCO city of music? I know that she has a personal commitment to rock and pop music. The venue is also important to Scots who have memories of seeing such bands as the Arctic Monkeys and Frightened Rabbit there. Will the cabinet secretary put on record her commendation of the efforts of the Academy Music Group and the work that is on-going in planning and regeneration services? It is a complex process to establish whether to restore or rebuild the O2. One way or the other, I hope that the cabinet secretary agrees that we need to rebuild it. Will she continue to pledge support vocally, if she can, for the restoration or rebuilding of that wonderful and iconic building?
I reiterate that it is a live planning case. However, Pauline McNeill is right in recognising all the different agencies that are involved. There are listed building consents, planning issues and a variety of other issues, and everybody is trying to work constructively within their remits to see resolution. I probably cannot comment more than that, but that work by everybody using their best efforts to get a positive result is to be commended. I do not want to comment further in case it is the subject of a ministerial decision.
Pauline McNeill is right in recognising the role of the ABC in the memories of many people. However, the ABC and, indeed, other venues should also be celebrated for the future music and the present talent that they bring. For those of us of a certain age, perhaps nostalgia might be the way to celebrate our music venues. However, the best way is to provide opportunities for new and fresh talent to perform in UNESCO’s city of music.