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Let the creative juices flow

With pound;8 million up for grabs, it's never been easier for organisations to get their hands on Lottery funds. Emma Seith reports.

Schools, colleges and local authorities are being urged to bid for a share of pound;8 million - but they will need to come up with a "fantastic idea" that will inspire Scots, particularly young ones, to participate in the arts and be creative.

The Scottish Arts Council this week launched Inspire, a major new Lottery fund for the development of projects that increase access to the arts.

The fund has been developed as part of the SAC's commitment to increasing participation.

Its focus on young people is likely to be well received, particularly in the wake of the Scottish Government's decision last year to phase out direct funding for cultural co-ordinators by 2010.

The fund will target people living in deprived or rural areas and those with disabilities.

It has never been easier, according to the SAC, for organisations to get their hands on Lottery cash. The criteria for applying, it insists, are as open as possible and should allow people to "unleash their creativity" and come up with "inspiring ideas".

The council expects a "high demand for funds", but the whole pound;8 million could, in theory, go to one applicant - no maximum or minimum for grants has been set.

Jim Tough, acting chief executive of the SAC, and Iain Munro, co-director of arts, were reluctant to give too many pointers about the kind of project they were looking for, as they did not want to lead people down any particular path.

In the field of education, however, Mr Tough cited two projects SAC has funded in the past - Room 13 and Dalry Primary's unique, new building - as potentially fitting with the Inspire remit.

Room 13 started life in Caol Primary, near Fort William. The room was used as an art studio where pupils could go to make artwork, research, read or discuss things with their artist-in-residence. Since its inception in 1994, the Room 13 concept has grown into a network of studios worldwide.

Dalry Primary in North Ayrshire received pound;166,000 from the Scottish Arts Council's primary spaces initiative to develop new concepts in school building design. The school, which opened last year, has an ICT suite made from billowing balloon-like fabric, themed classrooms and minimalist unisex toilets and was designed by Glasgow-born artist Bruce McLean, who is professor of fine art and head of painting at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London.

"Ideas" have to be submitted to the Scottish Arts Council by May and the council will then help organisations to develop them.

"We will provide support, advice and a wee bit of money to help develop the best ideas," says Mr Munro.

In February next year it will be decided which projects become a reality. "This fund is what people have been waiting for," he continued. "We know from earlier funding streams and programmes that people were saying that sometimes the criteria are quite tight and constrain ideas and ambition. This is the chance to run with an idea that has been bubbling away for some time."

More information and to apply:

Cultural co-ordinators: page 14.

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