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£2.5m to transform children's lives

Published: 11 Mar 2016 09:30

Four year package to support and enhance transformative youth orchestras.

The Scottish Government will award £2.5 million to support Sistema Scotland to transform the lives of thousands of children and young people in disadvantaged communities, Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop announced today.

The four-year funding package will enable the youth orchestra programme to sustain and build on its work to enhance the health, wellbeing and prospects of young people in parts of Stirling, Glasgow and Aberdeen.

Sistema Scotland works with more than 1,500 children and young people in Raploch, Govanhill and Torry, aiming to transform their lives, opportunities and prospects by engaging them in Big Noise youth orchestras.

Recognising Sistema Scotland's proven ability to have a positive impact on the health, wellbeing, skills, confidence and quality of life of its young people, the Scottish Government today confirmed it will expand its support for the programme to 2020, taking total Scottish Government funding for Sistema Scotland to more than £4 million since 2012/13.

Today's funding package will enable Sistema to work with at least an extra 700 young people across its three Big Noise centres - supporting more than 2,000 overall to engage in the potentially life-changing programme.

Speaking ahead of a visit to Sistema Scotland's Big Noise centre in Govanhill, Glasgow, Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said:

"The Scottish Government's ambition is for Scotland to be the best place to grow up, with every child being given the best chance to succeed. We are committed to investing in early intervention programmes that support our young people, raise attainment, tackle inequality and empower our communities. Sistema Scotland is addressing each of these key priorities and making a real impact.

"No young person's background should be a barrier to taking part in cultural life or realising the immeasurable benefits that the arts can bring. I want every child and young person in Scotland to be able to reach their full potential and fulfil their ambitions. Through its creative, empowering and energising approach, Sistema Scotland is helping us to achieve this and so much more, transforming the lives of thousands of young people in three of our most disadvantaged communities.

"Independent evaluation has confirmed Sistema Scotland is increasing the confidence, aspirations and self-esteem of our children and young people. This is having a cumulative impact on the health, wellbeing and prospects not only of those directly engaged in the programme, but their families and wider communities too. The £2.5 million I have announced today will support this important work to continue, and to extend the programme's reach to at least 700 more young people.

"This is a direct investment in the future of more than 2,000 of our children and young people over the next four years and a vote of confidence in Sistema Scotland's proven ability to unlock the unlimited potential of our next generation."

Richard Holloway, Chairman of the Sistema Scotland Board, said:

"We are delighted by this incredible support from the Scottish Government. It fully endorses the social transformation work done by Sistema Scotland and the Big Noise Centres in the communities they serve. This new investment will not only help us to continue with our existing work, it will also enable us to work intensively each week with around 700 more children.

"The recent study by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health showed Big Noise attendees achieve higher levels of attainment and attendance at school, and have higher levels of confidence, pride and self-esteem. Children and young people who attend not only have the potential to go on and lead fuller and healthier lives, but the programme has the potential to quickly generate greater social benefits than the costs of delivery.

"Big Noise Raploch is regarded as a Centre of Excellence, Leadership and Learning throughout the Sistema movement worldwide. We will now be working with the Scottish Government on sharing our experiences and learning in social transformation."

Notes to editors

Sistema Scotland's vision is to transform lives with music – to produce systemic, generational change in Scotland's poorest communities, transforming the health, wellbeing and prospects of the children and young people who participate in the programme.

Based on the methods of Venezuela's 'El Sistema' movement, Sistema Scotland develops orchestra centres which are known in the community as 'Big Noise'. The first orchestra in Scotland was established in Raploch, Stirling in 2008, the second in 2013 in Govanhill, Glasgow. A third Big Noise Centre in Torry, Aberdeen was launched on 29 June 2015.

The Scottish Government provided funding of £1.575 million to Sistema Scotland during the four years to 2015/16. Today's announcement confirms an additional £415,000 will be awarded in 2016/17 followed by £2.085 million in the three years to 2020. The funding will be sourced from several Scottish Government portfolios including health, education and culture, reflecting the wide ranging benefits the programme provides.

Prior to the Scottish Government's initial investment from 2012/13, Sistema Scotland was working with around 385 children and young people. With our support Sistema Scotland has developed considerably and now reaches 1,500 children and young people in 11 schools across Raploch in Stirling, Govanhill in Glasgow and Torry in Aberdeen.

In March 2011 the Scottish Government published an evaluation on the impact of the Big Noise Raploch programme which noted the positive impact on health and well-being, education and learning, community safety, community cohesion, children's aspirations, personal and social skills. Link:-

Since then, the Glasgow Centre for Population Health (GCPH) has worked with Sistema Scotland on a long term evaluation of their work seeking to establish the contribution made by Sistema Scotland to transforming the health, wellbeing and prospects of children and young people living in the areas where Big Noise programmes are delivered. See: