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6 March 2023, 13:26 | Updated: 6 March 2023, 16:34
After concerns over the futures of a least two free tuition children’s orchestras in Scotland, the government has stepped in to secure the music programmes futures.
This weekend the Scottish government has announced £1.5 million of funding to save children’s orchestras across deprived areas of Scotland that were at risk of closure.
The decision comes after both Aberdeen and Dundee councils announced they would be cutting to the ‘Big Noise’ projects in their areas at the end of last month, due to the cost of living crisis.
Big Noise is a project run by Sistema Scotland, which provides free music education to over 3,500 young people across the cities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling.
To combat the councils decisions, four MSPs wrote to the Scottish government, asking them to intervene and save the music programmes. Over the weekend, the government confirmed it would cover the extra funding needed to keep Big Noise projects running in each area.
In a letter on the decision, Scotland’s culture minister Neil Gray said: “In such a challenging economic climate, against a backdrop of spiking inflation and the cost-of-living crisis, I understand local authorities have had to make difficult choices to balance their budgets.
“The Scottish government values the great work that Sistema Scotland do and recognise the important role of the Big Noise programme in supporting over 2,000 young people in disadvantaged communities who rely on this service.”
Read more: Disadvantaged children in Wales to receive free access to musical instruments
Big Noise Torry | The First Year
Interested in finding out a bit more about what makes Big Noise so special? This short video follows the first year of the Big Noise Torry journey and looks at the impact that Big Noise has had on the Torry Community. Big Noise Torry and Sistema Scotland are extremely grateful to Station House Media Unit and the Youth Media members who have worked together to create this video!Posted by Sistema Scotland on Monday, February 12, 2018
Gray continued: “I am pleased to confirm that the First Minister has asked the Scottish Government to step in to ensure that Sistema Scotland get the funding they need, which we understand is around £1.5 million.”
Following the announcement of the news, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon shared on Twitter: “I know from my own constituency how inspiring and beneficial the [Sistema Scotland] Big Noise programme is for the young people who take part.
“I know times are tough for councils – but delighted to confirm that [the Scottish Government] will ensure Sistema gets the funding it needs to secure future”.
Sistema Scotland added it was “absolutely delighted” with the government’s move and thanked the decision makers for recognising “the transformational impact of [their] programmes”.
We are grateful to ministers, those councils that did stand by us, and all of our wonderful funders and the wider community who have sent us so many messages of support over the past weeks 🎶👇 pic.twitter.com/cEc0ln61yR— Sistema Scotland (@sistemascotland) March 4, 2023
Sistema Scotland, which was founded in 2008, was inspired by Venezuela’s own ‘El Sistema’, a publicly financed, voluntary sector, music-education program.
One notable success story of the program is conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, who was recently announced as the incoming music director of the New York Philharmonic.
Dudamel is also the is Patron of Big Noise and has appeared in concert with the Scottish musicians on multiple occasions.
In a 2012 interview, he described the young Scots as “our little sons and daughters”.
Read more: Star maestro Gustavo Dudamel announced as music director of New York Philharmonic
For Sistema Scotland, being a transformational project is arguably what saved them from possible extinction.
When justifying the cuts to Dundee’s own Big Noise project, the council argued that there was a lack of evidence the programme was working.
However, in Gray’s letter to the council, the Scottish culture minister hit back saying this was “untrue”.
“[Just] ask the families, Gray wrote, “t's a transformational programme of change for the young people and we have very solid evidence to that.”
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