‘Culture gap’ is excluding Scotland’s poorest

Children from Stirling's Raploch estate perform in a concert organised by Sistema Scotland
Children from Stirling's Raploch estate perform in a concert organised by Sistema Scotland
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The growing “culture gap” between Scotland’s richest and poorest people has been revealed in figures released by Scottish Labour.

Research shows a 22-point gap, a two-point increase on 2015, between the wealthiest and the poorest in participating in cultural activities, including reading.

Analysis of the 2016 Scottish Household Survey shows 66 per cent of the least well off group participate in cultural activity, compared with 88 per cent of the most affluent.

Claire Baker MSP, Scottish Labour shadow cabinet secretary for culture and external affairs, said the figures showed the “huge gap” between those able to afford to participate and those who could not was not just financial.

“These figures show that austerity and inequality isn’t just about the money in your pocket, it’s about the quality of life people can have.

“Cultural activity enriches our lives, be it through reading, visiting a museum or seeing a live performance. The figures reveal the huge gap that exists in almost every aspect of life between the richest and poorest in society. A further effective cut of £700 million to local authorities will just make this worse.

“It is clear that radical action is needed to address the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest, not just financially but right across society.

“The only party that can be trusted to close the gap between the privileged few and the many is Labour.”

The Scottish Government said: “This month’s draft Budget included a 10 per cent increase in culture spend – to £166.8m next year. This will support key initiatives and help Scotland’s cultural sector to thrive.

“The Scottish Government is clear – background should never be a barrier to participating in culture. That is why we are committed to protecting free entry to national museums and galleries. It’s also why we support projects like Cashback for Creativity, ensuring thousands of young people in deprived areas have the chance to engage in cultural activities, and Sistema Scotland, helping to improve the lives of the children and young people in Raploch, Govanhill and Torry.

“We are currently developing A Culture Strategy for Scotland, setting out a vision and priorities for the future development of culture, including maximising participation regardless of background.”