Lottery boost for arts in schools

Millions of pounds will be available from April to enable young people - and schools and colleges - to be actively involved in the arts, thanks to the National Lottery.

Announcing plans for next year's allocation of lottery funding in Glasgow last week, Magnus Linklater, chairman of the Scottish Arts Council, said it was "the most exciting development as far as it affects the arts in Scotland".

Since lottery cash became available in 1994, the council has allocated Pounds 51 million in grants for capital funding. These have gone mainly on buildings and refurbishment, with beneficiaries ranging from Glasgow's Citizens Theatre to village halls in South Uist. Now the Government has agreed the money should be used to stimulate new talent to fill the buildings. "While refurbishing remains a high priority, it is no good if there is nothing to put in them, " Mr Linklater said.

Last week's New Directions guidelines adopt a three-pronged attack to develop new work, improve access and participation, and encourage talent, skills and creativity. This will provide financial support for new projects to enhance the school curriculum, such as performances by professional arts in education companies; teams of artists shared by clusters of schools; or stage artists in residence for at least a term.

New work funded by the lottery must be accompanied by an education programme and interpretative materials, and access and participation will require education and outreach officers to create links with the education sector. Workshops for children, summer schools and masterclasses for young people will feature in the development of talent and creative abilities.

Sylvia Dow, the council's education officer, comments: "I am pleased it is made very clear that this money is not intended as a substitution for teachers. Local authority cuts have had a devastating effect on arts education. But lottery funding will help a lot with enhancement of the curriculum. In England, the Arts Council has mooted that instrumental education might be funded through the lottery. Though instrumental education is under great threat in Scotland, we believe it should be a centrally funded service."

Despite a handful of major education awards at tertiary level, grants to schools have been thin on the ground. These have included Pounds 12,095 to Kingussie High for improvements in equipment and wheelchair-accessible toilets for the school hall; Pounds 7,000 to Queensferry High for a feasibility study into the inclusion of a public performance area in a major refurbishment of the school; and Pounds 15,000 to Ardrossan Academy for new instruments for its concert band.

Of the Pounds 26 million available for the coming financial year, about a quarter is expected to go to New Directions with the proportion rising over the years, Seona Reid, the SAC's director, says. Applications must involve partnership funding, be additional to statutory provision in the curriculum and provide lasting benefit to the community.

Copies of New Directions are being sent to education authorities and are available through the SAC. A New Directions roadshow is travelling round Scotland until February 14.

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