What has the SNP done to promote modern Scottish culture?
The promotion of our culture, both historic and modern, is of real importance to the SNP, and to me personally. I was very privileged to be Culture Minister for the first two years of an SNP Government.
During this period, I actively promoted Scotland’s national companies and collections, expanded funding for innovative work through, for example, the ‘Expo fund’ and ‘Made in Scotland’ to showcase the talents of our artists, and our designers, internationally.
One example of that was funding the National Theatre of Scotland to perform their award winning production ‘Black Watch’ in the US and Australia.
Of course, our native languages are part of our culture too – during our first four years in government, we increased funding for Gaelic and carried out the first ever audit of the Scots language.
Our languages, our forms of expression help make our nation unique – Scotland’s poetry, dance, prose, music, drama. For too long, they have ‘got along’ with crumbs from the funding table, they are entitled to parity of esteem with the more internationally based arts, opera, ballet, classical music, which also have their place in a modern, vibrant Scotland.
Some of our musicians blur the lines between ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’, creating exciting sounds which are truly contemporary. Here is an example from The Unusual Suspects, more can be found on the Music To My Ears page on this site.
We recognise the importance of this and other aspects of contemporary Scottish music and intend to work with the commercial sector to create a New Music Scotland initiative to support existing and emerging commercial musicians.
A great example of the international recognition of Scottish culture is the use of Dave Francis and Mairi Campbell singing Robert Burns’ song Auld Lang Syne in the film Sex and the City. Here are Dave and Mairi singing the song in Barga, Italy – a town that has contributed a great deal to modern Scottish culture, not least as the ancestral home of the family of Ricky Demarco.
With support from Creative Scotland, and backing from the UK Government in terms of tax policy, Scotland has the talent to make a much bigger contribution to the international film industry.
‘Modern’ Scottish culture covers so much, including our vibrant architecture and design sector! We have given so much to the world, and continue to do so, but there’s a lot more to give – that must be nurtured and promoted.