Speaking at its launch in Edinburgh's Film House last week, Mr Gray defended the arts as "a long-term investment with considerable returns" and attacked the Scottish Office White Paper on education, where "the arts were sorely ignored".
Representatives from the main political parties outlined their commitments to arts funding. Labour's Lord Sewell saw devolution as central to the development of the arts. Mike Pringe (Liberal Democrat) argued the necessity of "bringing arts spending up to the European average" and of a new Scottish Parliament appointing a minister for the arts, while the Scottish National Party's spokes-man for the arts and broadcasting, Paul Scott, said Scotland ought to be independent because it had its own culture. "The arts are central to the case for independence."
Mr Gray regretted that no one from the Scottish Conservatives, although invited, had attended the launch.
The manifesto regards the education system and the arts as "inextricably inter-related" and argues that "the provision of the appreciation of the arts ... should be universal" and that "the training of artists should be as wide as possible".
Arguing for a "fully and properly funded" arts education programme under the slogan "A people not fully educated in the arts is an uneducated people, " the SALVO manifesto says: "Proposals under the National Lottery to provide help for pupils to attend artistic activities, while welcome, sidestep the fundamental issues."
Mr Gray regretted the "oversight" of not including any mention of Scots or Gaelic in the manifesto, saying that SALVO had been "traditionally Edinburgh-based" but was now in the process of establishing contacts with Gaelic arts organisations.