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Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, Mike Watson MSP, views Scottish contemporary arts and crafts at a Scotland in Sweden event in October 2002
I was genuinely excited to be given responsibility in November 2001 for the newly created Tourism, Culture and Sport portfolio. It had often struck me that Scotland's artistic and cultural achievements were exceptional, but were enjoyed by too few Scots. More needed to be done to make "Arts for All" more than just a slogan. As a start, it had to be demonstrated that while the arts form an important part of Scotland's culture, they do provide just a part. Our museums, our galleries, our architecture, our historic buildings, our creative industries, each make an essential contribution to the rich and varied cultural diversity of our country. The National Cultural Strategy provides a framework for building on what we already do well and moving forward to greater levels of engagement in these successes.
This should happen for many reasons, but primarily so that the work - paintings, performances, films, songs, dances and stories - can be shared and enjoyed. Elaine Murray and I want all the people of Scotland to share in our culture - with greater numbers watching, listening and, most importantly, taking part.
We also want our visitors to be impressed and delighted when they encounter the full variety of Scotland's culture. They may know already something of the rich heritage we're so proud of; but how many appreciate the extent of the creativity and vibrancy of Scotland's contemporary culture? They need to be made aware that festivals and events of the highest quality happen here throughout the year - not only when the world's leading arts festival is staged in Edinburgh each summer.
Because of the power of culture to inspire, to break down barriers, and to change lives, we have to be as inclusive as possible when we seek to extend and promote participation. Too many regard culture in modern Scotland as an 'add on'; optional; not part of the fabric of day to day life, whereas in other European countries it occupies a special place in the hearts and minds of their people. This is something I want to see change. We should be proud of the creativity and excellence of our artists - and not just when they pick up major awards for their work, as we have seen again in several instances this past year.
I hope that this account of the second year in the life of Scotland's National Cultural Strategy will demonstrate to all the great achievements and opportunities in our country's cultural life. It illustrates - by example - many instances of effective working together to make projects successful. In the same spirit, I work in partnership with my Ministerial colleagues to ensure policy-making develops the links between our respective portfolios, and the benefits of cultural activity reach out to areas such as learning, enterprise, health and social justice. As a demonstration of our shared commitment, I am pleased that Cathy Jamieson and Margaret Curran have accepted my invitation to introduce Parts 2 and 3 of the report.
Culture does indeed change lives, but only by being truly inclusive.
This report tells of some of the things that have happened to achieve that objective, and of more that is planned.
It shows the wide range of people and organisations who help deliver.
It also tells of the help available from national and local agencies, to encourage more people to get involved.
The report is not intended to be a comprehensive account of all the activity throughout the country which has taken place this year to progress the objectives of the Strategy. But it does cover some key highlights, and indicates the kinds of projects and achievements I want to see promoted.
So as well as being the latest progress report to Parliament - as promised in the Cultural Strategy - this is an account to be read by all those who are interested and committed, as I am, to the development of culture in all its forms in Scotland.
Mike Watson, MSP
Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport
The document is in 4 parts. Parts 1 - 3 cover 3 themes which are key in driving the Strategy forward -
promoting the contribution of culture
developing education and learning
closing the opportunity gap
The document explains the progress being made to achieve them, including action since the first report of the Strategy last October, and plans for forthcoming activity.
Part 4 gives contact details for organisations that have an important role in making things happen and in providing practical help so that more people can get involved.