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Scottish and Celtic Music Discussion
Funding: Gaelic vs Scots
Simon T
Posts: 8666
Posted: 06-Jan-2009 12:24
This is a topic that has obviously been discussed and discussed here. As Onny mentioned it on the 'Letter on the Future of the Arts in Scotland' I thought I would start another one.

I think my point is simple. Organisations who show clarity, good leadership, great organisation tend to put in great funding applications. This goes for Gaelic, opera, classical etc. The Feis in my experience are all of the above. They do a great job, they provide excellent training and have a very good infrastucture. This is why they and other Gaelic organisations are well funded to do an important job.

Now the Scots language societies with all their excellent intentions have not so far run such good organisations. You may say that is because they do not have the funds but I say you have to start from somewhere. Bring in the right expertise from the start and you will progress. The Gaelic organisations have reached their heights because they have built on their successes continually adding the their skills base and having the right people working for them.

Yes the odds have been stacked against Scots with its struggle to be recognised as a seperate language but now we're getting somewhere and we need a glitzy organisation with a professional front that will transmit the language to the wider public in a language (visiblity) they will understand.

Posts: 12842
Posted: 06-Jan-2009 12:50
By 'Scots', I didn't just mean the language but the whole non-Gaelic traditional arts scene.

Simon's right. Success breeds success.

John Minging
Posts: 268
Posted: 06-Jan-2009 13:59
I saw this post from Simon and feel compelled to return to the fray!

Simon's point is well made but doesn't tell the whole story. Scots language and Scots trad based organisations do not have the same access to financial assistance as their Gaelic counterparts whose funding position is extremely impressive. Political and cultural advocacy married to specific legal requirements have solidified and expanded the funding position of Gaelic culture. My Gaelic colleagues are to be heartily congratulated on their hard work and success in this respect. The same opportunities do not exist in lowland Scotland where the political/funding and cultural environment in which lowland organisations operate is radically different (oh yes it is). One need only look at the organisations which had their funding removed by SAC and the fact that 5 of the 7 cultural organisations identified by SAC as being trad arts based and which are Foundation Funded are exclusively Gaelic, the other two being cross cultural and with little relevance to music. One more example would be that HIE funds trad music and it's associated organisations such as the Feisean but SE will not do likewise in lowland Scotland. There are numerous other examples regarding this matter and the funding disparity is enormous but a bit complicated to present in a coherent manner on a forum. There is no doubt that the more access to funding, the more chance of reaching critical mass and consequently the more probability that successful development will ensue.

Regarding a Scots language organisation. I think Simon's assessment is harsh given the reasons above. To think that simply bringing in the right people will garner success is IMO a little naive. Our Gaelic colleagues have been advocating for a long, long time and have access to resources that lowland organisations simply do not have. How much will you pay the right people if there isn't any money? How will you convince the powers that be that they are not funding our heritage if even the SAC considers Scots completely irrelevant (because they don't actually understand Scots culture!). It's going to take some serious consensus building and time to address, though I suspect less time than it took our Gaelic friends who have blazed the trail. Simon already knows about the TMSA's current interaction with several Scots orientated organisations in an attempt to develop a Scots Language and Culture Forum and this is continuing (SLD, STDT, SLRC, Scots Langugae Society, Itchy-coo and more).

Regarding "glitzy"........whilst an element of self-promotion is completely desireable, many people have a different emphasis on how to promote our culture. In any case, working in committees and building consensus under the limitations of the democratic process is a completely different animal from making your own decisions and implementing them and it remains to be seen what approach, if any, will have the the more long-term beneficial effect for our culture and heritage.......this of course depends on the effect intended in the first place and it may simply be a case of horses for courses!!

It'll be at least another 3-4 years before the ming returns! :)

Posts: 122
Posted: 06-Jan-2009 14:51
What does the Committee of Experts monitoring the European Charter on Minority Languages have to say about current efforts for Scots? Given that Scots is named on said Charter, the political framework should exist. Can't remember where now, but I think I heard tell that the lads and ladies down at Victoria Quay will be commissioning some work looking into the matter soon.

Sometimes I work for a Gaelic organisation and I really enjoy reading about these from an outside perspective. It certainly looks like we're winning the positive perception war but whether that actually translates into a sustainable future for the spoken tongue will be an interesting question for the future.

In terms of organisational and strategic structures, Gaelic has its own mix of top-down and bottom-up initiatives, and quite a few which fall in the middle. My own tuppence worth would be that the bottom-up initiatives, e.g. Feisean nan Gaidheal which came into being through the Feis movement itself, are the most successful. Others, such as Bord na Gaidhlig, have had more teething problems. Yet others are perceived by the community to be operating largely without reference to the average Gaelic speaker at all, and that's a real danger in so far as the average Gaelic speaker is the structure which will keep the language alive as opposed to, say, an arts development agency, and I reckon we can't afford to alienate him/her in this way.

I think we can all do glitz but it's always a difficult balancing act as more glitz can mean less substance when funds are tight.

Simon T
Posts: 8666
Posted: 06-Jan-2009 15:30
Yes fair points from all. I agree with Minging that in the lowlands we do not have an HIE which has been of amazing service to Gaelic and highland community in general. When we did the Scots Trad Music Awards in the Highlands it was a different climate all together.
Posts: 12842
Posted: 06-Jan-2009 16:04
I'm delighted to have played some small part in flushing John Minging out of self-imposed exile and I'll be sad if it's another 3-4 years before he returns.

He's done a lot of invaluable work looking into funding and the comparison between the funding position of Gaelic culture and that in lowland Scotland.

It is, as he rightly points out "a bit complicated to present in a coherent manner on a forum" but I'm sure it will make a wonderful PowerPoint presentation ;-)

Posts: 12842
Posted: 06-Jan-2009 16:06
Simon T rightly congratulates HIE on their work but we do, in fact, have Scottish Enterprise which operates outwith the HIE area and they, to be frank, are doing nothing (or at least nothing I can find out about) to help us.
Nìall Beag
Posts: 2237
Posted: 06-Jan-2009 17:07
Worth remembering, when we're talking about Gaelic "vs" Scots, that the Fèisean have brought in Scots as they have expanded into Scots-speaking areas. There is still a wide general Gaelic bias, but then they do have a good network of teachers, supporters and sponsors within the Gaelic world. However, as far as I can see (from the outside) the organisation is completely open to Scots and if more teachers want to get involved, that side of it can only grow.

The Fèisean are to be commended for breaking out of the bunker, and should be supported in furthering this.

Posts: 279
Posted: 06-Jan-2009 18:14
It is quite obvious that the situation of the two languages is very different indeed I have never come across anyone connected with Scots who wanted or were remotely interested in a seperate education system as you have with Gaelic medium schools or high schools etc in the language.

All is far from healthy as the Gaelic cultural landscape presently suffers from music that is taken or originates in English rythms and tones rather than being raised up from the Gaelic language ruitheam.
What is needed is a completely Gaelic orientated music school run entirely in Gaelic fom top to bottom following in the traditions of Gaelic Scotland and not from afar or as part of an English language set-up.

Again we have a sorry state when it comes to Sport where little or nothing new or from the Gaelic tradition is developed leaving us shorn of our culture in this field.

Sadly, we have a very long way to travel before we get anywhere near what is needed. Money is far from being the only answer as you also need people with insight and cultural knowledge as well.

Posts: 70
Posted: 06-Jan-2009 19:56
I think that to look at this as a Gaelic vs Scots issue is not really that relevant.

Since a few people have mentioned the Fèisean here goes - they are not a Gaelic organisation. They teach their classes for the most part through the medium of English. I don't doubt that they do a lot for traditional instruments and in some instances for Gaelic song but don't say that it is money that is all going towards Gaelic. So in fact, the figures for Gaelic grants may look good but they are not going towards the benefit of the Gaelic language but rather for groups that have Gaelic as a part of their operations

How can a person learning the pipes/fiddle etc through the medium of English be deemed to be getting Gaelic money?

p.s. I fully support funding for Scots and Gaelic as well as the traditional arts but don't be thinking that all the money that is thought to go to the Gaelic pot is really promoting or strengthening Gaelic.

Posts: 306
Posted: 06-Jan-2009 21:00
You are partly right, Gaidheal, in that not all the money the Fèis movement gets is from Gaelic sources, or for the purposes of strengthening the Gaelic language. In fact, approximately 6% of Fèisean nan Gàidheal's funding is 'Gaelic' funding.

However, to say that Fèisean nan Gàidheal is not a Gaelic organisation is not true. We have a Gaelic policy for the organisation and for the individual Fèisean. We have a Gaelic-speaking staff who communicate in Gaelic, all our Board papers are prepared in Gaelic and English, and our Annual General and Board meetings are held in Gaelic with simultaneous translation. Staff meetings are in Gaelic and all our staff receive ongoing Gaelic training.

How the Fèisean themselves deliver on our Gaelic policy varies from place to place. However, each Fèis has a Gaelic development plan of its own in order to increase the use of the language in Fèis activities year-on-year. This was initiated long before talk of Gaelic plans for public bodies and other organisations, but was in response to the criticism at that time from some quarters (which still prevails) that the Fèisean did very little to develop Gaelic language.

This began with a fairly light approach, where each Fèis had to submit a statement of intent as to what they could do in terms of Gaelic development. As the organisation has grown, and gained the capacity to help them do more, those Fèis ‘statements’ have turned into more formal plans. As the plans have become more formalised, so too have the conditions of grant we impose in relation to their implementation and staff monitor them quite closely, and offer hands-on support, where appropriate.

The result of this way of working is that research carried out by the RSAMD in 2006 found that 76% of respondents reported that participation in Fèis activities had resulted in a positive or strong positive influence on their motivation to learn Gaelic, while 79% reported a positive or strong positive influence on their attitude to Gaelic.

It has to be remembered that the Fèisean get to over 5,000 individual young people every year, yet there are only 2,000 pupils in Gaelic medium primary schools. We seem to be able to get to many more young people that the formal education system and clearly using music as a means of encouraging people to engage positively with Gaelic has worked. 6 out of the 45 Fèisean are entirely through the medium of Gaelic, while a good number of other Fèisean deliver at least some of their classes in Gaelic. Nearly all Fèisean now teach Gaelic language, at a fairly elementary level, for all participants.

If you look at what Fèisean nan Gàidheal does in addition to its core support of local Fèisean - Blas Festival (all events feature Gaelic, all publicity is bilingual, the website is entirely bilingual); Sgoil Shamhraidh Dhràma (Gaelic drama summer school with tuition and finished works in Gaelic); YMI tuition in schools (delivered in Gaelic in Gaelic-medium schools); Tuition Resources (Ceòl nam Fèis, Fiddle Tutor etc all in Gaelic and English); Meanbh-Chuileag (our theatre-in-education 'arm' which incidentally produced what is thought to have been the first Gaelic and Scots children's book) - the leverage or 'bang for the buck' that the 'Gaelic' funds we get produces seems quite impressive. So, on that basis, I think the Fèisean are certainly doing their bit for Gaelic!

Posts: 3461
Posted: 06-Jan-2009 21:06
Thirty years ago Gaelic and Scots were equally ignored by the SAC and the general funding system. The Mod had some money, I believe directly from the Scottish Office, and that was it. (I recall writing to ask SAC for support for a TMSA festival and being referred to the Scottish Tourist Board who turned us down because we weren't Scottish enough!)

In the early 80s there were the first glimmerings of the Feis movement and, crucially, a fairly small number of Gaelic activists, advised by Gaels who were in and around the Scottish Office and therefore knew how things work and with the help of one or two useful subversives in SAC, began to get to grips both with funding and publicity.

They were also helped by access to significant European Regional Funding and by the fact that the then Tory government was quite keen to do something relatively inexpensive to placate Scotland. Supporting Gaelic was, they thought, cheap, pretty and unthreatening (shows you what they knew!).

Success breeds success and the Feis movement and its allies were able to train a small legion of people who could organise, plan, fundraise, and - no offence Arthur! -know when to schmooze and when to thump the table!

As a result of Tom Laurie's 1985 (?) Report, unfortunately never fully or even substantially implemented, TMSA got their first funding, for a part time National Organiser in the late 80s. Jane Fraser did some fine work but there was never the time or resources to do what she and the TMSA would have liked to do.

A major part of the problem for Scots language and the traditional music of non-Gaelic Scotland is that it is disparate, diverse, regional and persistently factional and we have trouble getting enough people facing in the same direction at the same time! There are signs that this is changing both with the work being done by the Traditional Music Forum and by the proposed Scots Language and Culture Forum.

We can and must make a very good case for a much fairer deal for Scots, using the successes of the Gaelic movement to prove what can be done.

Posts: 70
Posted: 06-Jan-2009 21:41
Arthur - I stand corrected and I am glad that Gaelic is at the heart of Fèisean nan Gàidheal - my experience was of a Fèis many years ago where Gaelic was not at the heart of the thing. However, your point about 6% of Gaelic funding should make those who believe that there is trillions of 'Gaelic money' realise that that is not really the case.
Posts: 306
Posted: 06-Jan-2009 21:56
Indeed so, Gaidheal, and a lot of the money we get comes from general education funding (like YMI, drama etc) or economic development (HIE) partly because our work sustains the equivalent of around 70-80 full-time posts. Sure, we can argue for funding on the basis of the linguistic work we do, but we also make the economic argument frequently.

Scots language is no different. There must be at least as many, if not more, jobs reliant on Scots music as on purely Gaelic music. All the different angles should be argued.

There's the contribution all our music makes to the creative industries. Think of the number of CDs produced, studios hired, engineers employed, session musicians paid, artists' and photographers' works featured, graphic designers contracted, CD pressing plants given work, music shops supplied with product to sell, wealth created etc.

What about the venues? Artists booked, promoters paid, graphic designers employed, adverts placed in newspapers, sound engineers employed, ticket sales generating income, people being entertained.

Better stop before I give all my arguments away .....!

Posts: 1032
Posted: 06-Jan-2009 22:00
Just like the salaries of teachers who happen to speak Gaelic to the children in their class-rooms should be counted as Education funding, first and foremost.
Posts: 279
Posted: 06-Jan-2009 22:07
I have no wish to see any discord between the Scots and Gaelic supporters, but why do the Scots supporters think that the Gaelic speakers get lots of money, when in reality it is the Scots who get their money through the education system to the tune of £6000million each year. They require only small alterations in one or two fields to make everything a success.

When we talk about Gaelic we are talking about a much wider sphere of activity simply because the language is so completely different from Scots or English. The two language situations are simply not comparable other than in a small number of ways.

Good luck to the Scots organisations in everything you do.

Posts: 279
Posted: 06-Jan-2009 22:21
There was a Highland Festival recently where £14m was spent over a year. So who got the money, as I see only minor advantages coming for the Gaelic language in the form of publicity materials like logos and some translation work.

Indeed, I have still to see the reason or the advantages (which I hope were there) to the general Gaelic community or the long term gains this money afforded.

Now I do see that many Scots musical bands and tradition bearers gained enormously from this year-long festival.

Posts: 3461
Posted: 06-Jan-2009 22:34
interested, what on earth makes you think the Scots language or culture benefits from "£6000million " of education spending?

Aside from the fact that the total annual education budget in Scotland is less than half that sum, the amount of Scots language work in most schools is miniscule. It is still sadly entirely possible to go through the Scottish Education system virtually untouched by Scots song, poetry, music, literature or history.

John Minging
Posts: 268
Posted: 07-Jan-2009 00:49
Niall Beag - I think Arthur would agree that Scots is unlikely ever to be a focus for the Feisean, though I too would support any effort in that regard. I suspect that Scots communities and organisations will have to do the bulk of the work themselves, and believe this is as it should be.

Interested said - "......why do the Scots supporters think that the Gaelic speakers get lots of money, when in reality it is the Scots who get their money through the education system to the tune of £6000million each year. They require only small alterations in one or two fields to make everything a success."

The way to look at how Scots organisations view this would be better described if you had said....... "Gaelic cultural organisations have access to many more opportunities for funding than Scots-orientated ones, what can we learn and how can we emulate their success". It is about raising the Scots game, not about lowering the Gaelic bar.

The simple fact of the matter (after much indepth research) is that Gaelic/Highland trad organisations have much better opportunities for funding due to the present political and cultural environment (Shetland and Orkney also partially benefit from being part of the HIE area). My Gaelic colleagues have been immense in their efforts to establish this environment for the Highlands and west islands.

Auldtimer deals with your point regarding Scots education and from my own research it is plain that the amount of money expended on Scots music and language is indeed extremely low. Additionally, the vast majority of lowland Councils can't even identify any Scots undertaking but some have Gaelic support officers and some have identifiable Gaelic expenditure (e.g. Gaelic medium classes in a primary school in East Ayrshire). Do you think if the Scottish Parliament passed a Scots Language Act that the Western Isles or Highland Councils would employ a Scots support officer.......I'd like to think so. We need to recognise and celebrate our diversity, it really is a strength for our Country.

Interested also said........"When we talk about Gaelic we are talking about a much wider sphere of activity simply because the language is so completely different from Scots or English. The two language situations are simply not comparable other than in a small number of ways."

Why would Gaelic have a much wider sphere of activity compared to Scots? Why are they not comparable?

I'm afraid the disparity in funding and funding opportunities is stark, there's no getting around it. The difficulty for people like me is how to present the argument without alienating my Gaelic colleagues. You might ask why does the research need to draw comparisons between Gaelic/Highland and Lowland funding at all? Well it's simple really, lowland trad organisations have been held to be relatively ineffectual by SAC and it has backed up this assessment by comparing them to their Gaelic and Highland colleagues. It is nigh on impossible to show why they appear to be ineffectual without presenting the existing funding situations that exist and indeed, when looked at it in this light, it is amazing how much work has been done by the lowland organisations with so little resource.

Additionally, and Eachann touched on this very point, for the Scots community SAC seems interested in the music business/performer led events only, there will be no bottom up funding at all unless we change their mind. This situation does not exist for our Gaelic colleagues where grass-roots undertakings are funded fairly handsomely (relatively) and do a great deal of fantastic work as a consequence.

cont. next post!!!

John Minging
Posts: 268
Posted: 07-Jan-2009 00:49
So the funding issue for lowland Scots trad organisations has two main facets:

1. Virtually no access to public funds (SAC was the last one and Councils have limited resource unless you tap into YMI)
2. No bottom-up funding in lowland communities. There are approximately 40 - 50 smallish lowland festivals that occur every year, not one of which is supported by SAC. There is no support for the lowland Folk Clubs, of which there are approximately 60ish.

Scotland needs to have Scots and Gaelic supported. It is essential that the funding debate about to take place and the advocacy required to be undertaken by the Scots community, must not divide our heterogeneous (yet paradoxically fairly unified) trad community. These important matters need to be discussed and debated where people can see and talk directly to each other.

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