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'Free yourself through the arts'

YOUNG Scots can shake off any notion of economic and intellectual dependency by focusing on the arts in schools, James Boyle, chairman of the Scottish Arts Council, told a conference in Kilmarnock last week.

New thoughts and confidence could emerge from arts programmes and help young people to achieve in secondary and post-school education.

Mr Boyle told the East Ayrshire Creative Minds conference that arts initiatives provide "intellectual capital" for the next 20 years.

"We are on the cusp of change and rather than be dependent either economically or intellectually on other people, we should be breeding a new generation that is unafraid. The way you do that is to vanquish cliche and stereotype and the best way to do that is through the arts," he said.

Mr Boyle told education directors last November he was going to "hug schools to death" in an effort to raise the national profile of the arts. Last week he praised East Ayrshire for its pioneering work.

The council's three cultural co-ordinators start work this month and will introduce more young people to art galleries, touring exhibitions and creative groups. John Mulgrew, education director, has been appointed to the Scottish Arts Council to argue for education's place within the wider arts world.

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