Today I called for the Scottish Government to step in and secure the future of the Scottish Youth Theatre.
In what can only be seen as an embarrassment for the Government, The Scottish Youth Theatre will cease to trade during the Scottish Government’s ‘Year of Young People’ due to a lack of funding.
It was announced this week that the theatre will close on the 31st of July after it was unsuccessful in securing 3-year regular funding from Creative Scotland. The Scottish Government previously funded the youth theatre with support from Clyde Blowers following financial difficulties in 2014.
The Scottish Government cannot sit idly by and watch such a popular cultural institution shut down. The Scottish Youth Theatre has seen many of the country’s most successful talents tread their boards. This opportunity cannot be lost to future generations. Continue reading
Since becoming Deputy Convener of the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations committee I have already held a number of meetings on Brexit.
Brexit is the biggest political issue in British politics and it will continue to dominate the political discourse in the years ahead. As we move towards trying to achieve a deal it is vital that we listen to as many people as possible and ensure that Scotland’s voice is being heard in the debate.
That is why I was pleased to be able to go to London, Belfast and Dublin last month to ensure that the views and voices of the Scottish Parliament and my constituents were heard. We need to work hard to ensure that any deal does not hurt our economy, workers and jobs.
I was really pleased to see Polish Paths to Freedom exhibition in the Rothes Halls as part of the celebrations around the 70th Anniversary of Glenrothes.
The new display of archival photography, which was gifted to Fife Council by the Kujawsko-Pomorskie region in central Poland, documents the 3000 officers and 10,000 Polish First Division Corps stationed in Scotland between 1940 and 1947 who provided support to Scottish regiments during the First World War.
I know that Scotland, and in particular, the region of Fife and Poland have a long shared history, and that these photographs are an important part of Fife’s rich history of migration.
I was really interested to read stories in the exhibition log book of local people’s familial connections and memories and would encourage visitors to contribute.
With the Queensferry Crossing opening this year I have called for a charity event to celebrate the new bridge and raise vital funds for local and national charities.
The event would follow the success of the ‘M74 bike and hike’ which took place before the opening of the M74 extension in Glasgow in 2011. This event saw around 20,000 participants take part in 2 separate courses; a short 4km route or the longer 14km round trip.
Participants could raise money for the charity of their choice but the event officially recognised 8 main organisations, including SAMH, Macmillan Cancer Support and the British Heart Foundation.
This was a great way to open the M74 extension and simultaneously raise awareness and money for charity and it would be fantastic if such an event could be arranged for the opening of the Queensferry Crossing.
I have no doubt that Fifers would love the opportunity to be amongst the first to cross the bridge and take part in what could be a full day of fun stretching from one side of the Forth to the other.
With great views of the rail and road bridge along with the coast of Fife, the opportunity for people to cross the bridge before it is open to cars should be fully considered. This would be a great initiative to raise money for local charities such as MND Scotland but also for the many local charities across Mid Scotland and Fife that do great work day in day out.
I hope that people across the region can get behind an event to mark the opening of the crossing event and that the Scottish Government will make such an event a reality.
Recently I was delighted to welcome representatives from Malawi and give them a tour of the Scottish Parliament.
The group were visiting Scotland as guests of Dalgety Bay Parish Church who have a working partnership with Engcongolweni’s Church of Central Africa Presbyterian.
It was really good to meet members of both churches and hear about their relationship which has brought many positive benefits to communities in rural northern Malawi. This includes a project that provides clean water supply to the area, reaching over 7,500 people.
I was pleased to play my part in continuing efforts to strengthen the strong relationship Fife has established with this community in Malawi and I very much hope that they enjoyed their visit to Scotland.
Yesterday the UK Government published their white paper on the future of the BBC.
I welcome their recognition of the importance of the BBC to both the general public and the creative industries. I am also pleased that the BBC’s scale and scope has not been reduced and that the licence fee has been secured for the duration of the upcoming charter.
There is a recognition in the white paper of the need for more decentralised decision making which will lead to greater Scottish content but this must be balanced with delivering a sustainable BBC, where skills and jobs are secured and high quality programmes produced.
On Thursday I was able to attend Fife College’s graduation ceremony for Creative Industries and Computing students at St Bryce in Kirkcaldy.
It was a lovely ceremony with many proud students and family members. They all deserve huge congratulations for all their hard work and I wish them all well in their future.
Fife Council is currently consulting on the future of library services in the Kingdom. In the face of a £77 million budget gap over the next three years the current proposal will see a change in current library structure.
The structure proposed would establish three models of library services: libraries open for up to 20 hours a week, libraries open 20 – 40 hours a week and libraries open 40 hours or more a week. Unfortunately under this structure 16 libraries are earmarked for closure.
Nobody wants to see libraries close and following a recent coffee morning and constituent survey in Kinghorn, I fully understand the strength of feeling within the community for keeping their local library open.
Yesterday I joined local MSP Jackie Baillie in visiting Shieldinch, the set of River City, on a tour of their studios in Dumbarton. There we met the show’s newest stars Sanjeev Kohli (Navid from Still Game) and Dawn Steele (Lexie from Monarch of the Glen)
As Scottish Labour’s Democracy spokesperson I’ll be leading our response to the BBC’s Charter Renewal Process so it was great to see how important the studios are to the sector and the local economy.
Charter Renewal must be about securing the best deal for the licence fee payer and ensuring we have a have a sustainable BBC in Scotland, where skills are harnessed and quality programmes produced.
During First Minister questions yesterday I raised the lack of progress on a film studio in Scotland. When I first came into the role as culture spokesperson for the party the Scottish Government were on the verge of announcing their plans. Nine months later I am still waiting but for the sector the wait has been much, much longer.
Their frustration at this lack of progress was clear to those who attended a Creative Industries conference in Edinburgh this week. I chaired a session in the morning of the conference that included the progress, priorities and next steps of Scotland’s screen industries and it was clear to me that the long wait for the studio is, according to many, beginning to hinder the growth of that sector.
Arabella Page Croft, a leading producer that can count the recent (and popular) Sunshine on Leith amongst her works, highlighted that 20 years ago Scotland was the biggest production cluster outside London. Now we are 6th behind Wales, Northern Ireland and regions of England. Continue reading