Scottish Government supports a range of organisations that help to preserve our culture and heritage in communities across Scotland.
We provide targeted support for culture and heritage facilities through our funding to local authorities, organisations and public bodies, including Creative Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland. In 2022-23, Creative Scotland invested £85.4 million in the West Scotland region.
Our Culture Collective programme brings together creative practitioners, organisations and—importantly—communities across Scotland to work together to shape the future cultural life of their communities. In West Scotland, Culture Collective supports programmes including Inverclyde Culture Collective, Evolve and Ayr Gaiety.
As gateways to knowledge and culture, libraries play a vital role in our society. However, under the Scottish National Party Government, they are—sadly—declining. In 2009-10, 65 full-time staff were employed in libraries in East Dunbartonshire. However, in 2022-23, there were just 38 full-time staff. Local councils are having to plug budget gaps that have been created by the SNP Government cuts.
What more will the Scottish Government do to keep our libraries open and to ensure that knowledge and cultural heritage are preserved?
Pam Gosal makes an excellent point about how important libraries are. They are so important that the responsibility for them is devolved to local authorities, and it is the responsibility of local authorities to take that work forward.
Of course, we know about the wellbeing, health and education impact of local libraries, and we have been working closely with the sector to ensure that we can maintain libraries, too.
The minister will be well aware of many community organisations that are trying to save Scotland’s built heritage that is at risk. A good example is an organisation called the Springburn Winter Gardens Trust, of which I am the chair. The trust is trying to save Scotland’s largest Victorian glasshouse, which is in an increasingly perilous state of dereliction and has been abandoned since 1983.
We have been really struggling to try to achieve the necessary capital funds to initiate works to save the building. Would the minister be willing to meet me and the trustees to see whether we can find a viable way to save this historic building, which is in one of Scotland’s poorest communities?
I know the winter gardens well, having spent a lot of time in that park with my cousins when I was growing up, so I am well aware of the building.
Historic Environment Scotland’s heritage and place programme is an area-based funding programme that aims to contribute to the development of vibrant, sustainable places in Scotland through community-led regeneration—exactly what Paul Sweeney is speaking about. I would be happy to meet Paul Sweeney and the organisation, because we have a number of ways in which we can support communities to ensure that they maintain and sustain heritage and keep it for the future.