Threatened music projects saved from closure after new funding secured

The Scottish Government approves £1.5m funding to save Big Noise programmes held in deprived areas of the country.

Threatened Big Noise music projects saved from closure after new £1.5m funding secured from Scottish Government Alan Richardson

A flagship music tuition project at risk of closure has been saved after the Scottish Government intervened to provide funding.

Culture minister Neil Gray confirmed on Saturday that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had approved backing of the Big Noise projects, which are organised by the charity Sistema Scotland.

The projects use music to improve the life chances of young people and have attracted widespread praise.

They are run in deprived areas of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling but were set to close as a result of squeezed council budgets.

Dundee City Council’s majority administration withdrew all funding for the Big Noise programme in Douglas.

And Aberdeen City Council announced in its budget earlier this week it was withdrawing financial support for Big Noise in Torry, which works with more than 750 children and young people each week.

But the Scottish Government has now provided £1.5m in funding after pressure mounted to save the project – including from four SNP MSPs.

In a letter to Stirling MSP Evelyn Tweed, Gray said: “In such a challenging economic climate, against a backdrop of spiking inflation and the cost-of-living crisis, I understand local authorities have had to make difficult choices to balance their budgets.

“The Scottish Government values the great work that Sistema Scotland do and recognise the important role of the Big Noise programme in supporting over 2,000 young people in disadvantaged communities who rely on this service.

“I am pleased to confirm that the First Minister has asked the Scottish Government to step in to ensure that Sistema Scotland get the funding they need, which we understand is around £1.5m.”

Responding to the news, Dundee West MSP Joe FitzPatrick said: “I am delighted the Scottish Government has stepped in to protect these Sistema Big Noise projects.

“People in Douglas in Dundee, Torry in Aberdeen and Raploch in Stirling should not be further impoverished by Tory incompetence, so this is a fantastic result for all involved.”

FitzPatrick – a former government minister – said he was “deeply grateful” to the Scottish Government for making the funding available “despite financial pressures not of its making”.

Nicola Killean, chief executive of Sistema Scotland, said: “We are absolutely delighted that the Scottish Government recognises the transformational impact of our programmes and has stepped in to provide the additional £1.5m that we lost from councils, which helps secure the long-term sustainability across all of our Big Noise programmes.

“We are grateful to ministers, those councils that did stand by us, and all of our wonderful funders and the wider community who have sent us so many messages of support over the past weeks.

“This will make a lasting difference to young people’s lives in our most disadvantaged communities.”

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