Glasgow Labour MSP Anne McTaggart has praised Scotland’s winter festival programme and called for action to be taken to address the low participation in these celebrations by people from the most deprived communities in the country.
Ms McTaggart, Scottish Labour’s new Shadow Minister for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, was speaking in the Scottish Parliament debate on winter festivals on Tuesday 6 January.
Scotland’s winter festivals begin with the celebration of St Andrew’s day on 30 November, go on to the Hogmanay celebrations on 31 December and culminate with Burns night on 25 January. The 2013-14 winter festivals programme attracted over 250,000 people across Scotland and participation in the festivals is growing year on year.
Speaking in the debate Ms McTaggart said “We in Scottish Labour fully appreciate and understand that excellence in the arts has intrinsic value and that its power can be used to drive change throughout society. Although it is inspiring to know that so many people engage in cultural and winter festivals, we need to address the fact that people in our most deprived communities still participate less in cultural activities and are therefore isolated from the benefits that they bring.
“The Scottish index of multiple deprivation shows that only 68 per cent of those adults who live in the most deprived 20 per cent of areas have participated in cultural activity in the past 12 months, compared with 87 per cent of those adults who live in the least deprived 20 per cent of areas. Through investment in cultural activities, Scottish Labour made entry to museums and galleries free so that everyone could enjoy our nation’s history, heritage and culture. We should ensure that our winter festivals hold more free events so that more people from deprived areas can benefit from those festivals during the winter months in their local communities.
“I am proud that, as a nation, we are able to host such an extensive range of winter festivals the length and breadth of the country. Those festivals provide a great opportunity for visitors and residents to celebrate our unique culture and our distinctive heritage. I commend the extensive work of the volunteers, local groups and small businesses that contribute to the festivals’ success.”
You can read Ms McTaggart’s speech here