This week I visited the 201 Telephone Box Gallery in Strathkinness as part of the nationwide Art in Action campaign led by Scottish Contemporary Art Network (SCAN).
The Gallery is located in a disused telephone box which was adopted by Strathkinness Community Trust and converted into a contemporary art gallery in a project led by local artist and curator Lada Wilson.
The Art in Action campaign is promoting the valuable role visual art plays within communities across Scotland – and calling for stronger recognition of this value when it comes to decision-making.
The gallery provides a fantastic opportunity for the community to connect with visual art and has generated a lot of local discussion. I hope that through the Art in Action campaign, the role of art and artists in communities can be better understood so we can work to ensure better recognition of its value in decision-making at all levels.
The gallery itself demonstrates how the smallest of spaces can be used innovatively to explore ideas and bring visual arts into communities so it can be enjoyed and engaged with on people’s doorstep.
In light of STV’s announcement that they are closing STV2, reducing their news provision and axing 57 jobs, the station’s Chief Executive was hauled in front of the Culture Committee yesterday to be grilled by MSPs.
There I asked – in light of £18m in profits and his own salary and remuneration package in excess of £1.2m – why they are putting shareholders before staff and viewers.
Mr Pitts’ also refused to rule out compulsory redundancies, which is deeply concerning for all involved at the station. There are real fears within the sector and from myself that job losses and the reduction in news programming will damage the company’s ability to properly serve all of Scotland’s communities.
These cuts are being carried out by a chief executive who is paid a gold-plated salary package equivalent to UK national broadcast bosses whilst at the same time he is turning STV from a national news broadcaster into little more than a regional outfit.
Scotland needs a vibrant and strong independent broadcaster to hold governments at Westminster and Holyrood to account. STV’s ability to carry out that role is being put at serious risk with these cuts.
Yesterday STV announced a number of job losses at the organisation, along with the closure of STV2 and the end of the east coast edition of STV News. Instead viewers in Fife and Edinburgh will only receive a brief update of local content with the remainder of the programme being produced in Glasgow.
In a devastating blow to workers at STV, these changes will result in 34 jobs from its news department being made redundant, along with a further 25 jobs associated with STV2. This is despite STV making a pre-tax profit of £18m and the new CEO Simon Pitt being greeted with a ‘golden hello’ of over £800,000.
With the east coast edition of the STV News, issues that may previously have not made the national bulletin but were important to the Kingdom have been given the time and respect they deserve. These redundancies risk undermining that.
Our press do a great, if often undervalued, job and it will stick in the craw for many that the news was delivered as part of cost cutting measures from a CEO that was awarded a ‘golden hello’ of over £800,000.
At a time when BBC is launching a new channel and Glasgow is making a strong bid to be the new headquarters for Channel 4, we should be looking to build our media capacity in Scotland not diminish it.
STV must think again about axing the east coast news and ensure that the station can continue to deliver a news service that the whole of Scotland deserves.
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.
Scottish Labour will continue to work towards securing the best deal for viewers in Scotland and throughout the UK.