Sunday, 20 April 2008

Spring Conference Speech

Motion proposed by Rob Gibson MSP
Seconded by Pete Wishart MP


Conference welcomes the growing evidence that Scotland's creative industries are becoming a core economic sector in 21st century Scotland.

We note that Scottish performers and artists receive a very warm welcome in many countries across the world - they are truly cultural diplomats winning new and future partners in business vital to Scotland's continued prosperity.

Conference urges the Scottish Government to extend the scope of its Expo fund to promote Scottish-based productions premiered in the Edinburgh festivals to include comparable acts premiered at Celtic Connections.

Conference also recognises the unique contribution and vibrancy of our contemporary traditional arts, and calls on the proposed new body, Creative Scotland, to make an enhanced commitment to fund the development of this sector. This would present the perfect opportunity to encourage pride in a strong, fair and inclusive national identity.


Rob’s speech:

Convener, fellow nationalists,

The creative industries employ 100,000 people and generate £5 billion annual turn over or 4% of Scottish GDP today. Music alone brings £6m into the Shetland economy and Iain Hamilton of Highlands And Islands Labesl confirmed recently that there are around 800 people working in this sector in the Highlands and it is worth £24 million a year to the area's economy.

Creative Industries cover games, radio and television, new media, film, music production, design, publishing, architecture, advertising, arts and cultural industries.

According to Scottish Enterprise, outwith London and the South East, nowhere else in the UK has a greater share of creative industries employment … and it’s going to get larger.

Over the next three years the sector is expected to grow at 10% per annum in Scotland, with rates up to 20% per annum predicted for companies involved in digital content production.

Our artists and performers underpin the cultural confidence of Scots today. Through the dark Thatcher years they shone a light on the road to our Parliament. In terms of entertainment more people go to concerts, galleries performances and libraries than to play sport. So this Party should celebrate this artistic vibrancy and let it flourish.

For centuries now Scottish artists have been visiting and performing in countries across the globe. I hope our SNP Government can help many more to do so.

I’ve been on a personal mission with the help of Alyn smith MEP and Dr Aileen McLeod to talk with cultural representatives across Europe. Scotland is high profile, we are easily recognised and they want our cultural output in their lands. In turn we should be inviting as many nations to come and perform here. Not just in the Edinburgh Festivals programme but in every community. One example is a Basque sport and music group which performed in Inverness last month that is now making twinning links with the local Highland Games.

That’s cultural diplomacy on their part and that’s what the National Theatre of Scotland’s record breaking play Black Watch has done for Scotland on three continents. Haven’t they done well! That’s what we want to do again and again through a variety of art forms.

Turning to the Edinburgh festivals, they are always evolving. For instance the Fringe before the fringe was the Peoples’ Labour Festival in 1951 which featured political theatre, folk song and classical concerts.

This spurred the Edinburgh International Festival to feature traditional music which was usually sold out. But without consistent content each year this vibrant sector of Scots culture loses out on the prestige platform of Edinburgh in August.

I am asking our Government to look closely at a wider range of original Scottish artistic output to qualify for the expo fund.

That could be done through a dynamic partnership between Edinburgh festivals and Celtic connections that would open doors for our vibrant contemporary traditional music.

Put simply ahead of the 2009 Year of Homecoming we should be featuring as many Scottish artists and performers as possible around the world to attract people over here to see Scotland for real.

Please support this positive motion.

[Passed unanimously]

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