Children's orchestras win new funding deal from Scottish Government

THE Scottish Government is to plough an extra £1 million into a charity running children's orchestras in some of the most deprived parts of the country.

Young members of the Raploch Big Noise Orchestra playing in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow

Sistema Scotland has won a four-year deal worth £2.5 million to expand its work in Stirling, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

An extra 700 children will benefit from its revolutionary music tuition system, which originated in Venezuela.

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Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop made the announcement a week after making a keynote speech calling for Scotland to become a “world leader” in getting young people involved in the arts. She called for funding for the arts to be protected and maintained “even in difficult times” to help improve the “life chances” of people in every community.

Young members of the Raploch Big Noise Orchestra playing in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow

Sistema Scotland’s first Big Noise orchestra was created in the Raploch estate in Stirling in 2008, and has been followed by others in Govanhill, in Glasgow, three years ago and Torry, in Aberdeen, last year.

The government provided £1.5 million to Sistema Scotland over the last four years.

But talks are already underway to create a fourth Sistema Scotland centre in Dundee, with a campaign being led by the family of the late singer-songwriter Michael Marra.

Ms Hyslop, who announced the funding boost at the Big Noise centre in Govanhill, said the additional backing would allow the charity to sustain and build on its work, which currently involves some 1500 children and young people.

Young members of the Raploch Big Noise Orchestra playing in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow

She added: “The Scottish Government’s ambition is for Scotland to be the best place to grow up, with every child being given the best chance to succeed. We are committed to investing in early intervention programmes that support our young people, raise attainment, tackle inequality and empower our communities. Sistema Scotland is addressing each of these key priorities and making a real impact.

“No young person’s background should be a barrier to taking part in cultural life or realising the immeasurable benefits that the arts can bring.

“I want every child and young person in Scotland to be able to reach their full potential and fulfil their ambitions.

“Through its creative, empowering and energising approach, Sistema Scotland is helping us to achieve this and so much more, transforming the lives of thousands of young people in three of our most disadvantaged communities.

“Independent evaluation has confirmed Sistema Scotland is increasing the confidence, aspirations and self-esteem of our children and young people.

“This is having a cumulative impact on the health, well-being and prospects not only of those directly engaged in the programme, but their families and wider communities too.”

Richard Holloway, chairman of the Sistema Scotland board, said: “This new investment will not only help us to continue with our existing work, it will also enable us to work intensively each week with around 700 more 

“The recent study by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health showed Big Noise attendees achieve higher levels of attainment and attendance at school, and have higher levels of confidence, pride and self-esteem.”