Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop – clearly the Minister for Slush after her escapade in a highly suspect and unnecessary funding for the T-in the Park music festival – has announced increased funding for Scotland’s Winter Festivals, with the government press release trumpeting that ‘People across Scotland are set to experience the country’s biggest ever Winter Festival celebrations this year.’
A record £390,000 is to support 22 key cultural events which will form parts of Scotland’s Winter Festivals 2015/16 programme. An additional £75,000 has been approved this year to expand the line-up to more areas.
In addition, the Scottish Government has provided BEMIS [Black and Ethnic Minorities in Scotland] with a funding contribution of £46,050 to support the multi-cultural celebration of the 2015 Year of Food and Drink and Scotland’s Winter Festivals 2015/16. A key element of the wider programme will support specific activity designed by Scotland’s minority ethnic communities in support of the Winter Festivals.
It would be naive in the extreme not to be aware that this is part of the deliberate construction of a feel good bubble to wrap around the vote in the May 2016 Scottish Election. Whatever is or is not in the SNP manifesto for that election, there can be absolutely no doubt that a stonking pro-SNP vote, which is certain to be the case – will powerfully ramp up the existing pressure for indyref 2 on the fearful Leader and Deputy Leaders of the SNP, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Deputy First Minister, Finance Secretary, John Swinney.
The leadership has clearly given departmental ministers the latitude to provide financial support to communities across the country for events, initiatives, facilities and activities – and to promise more to come in matters they cannot yet address, by starting ‘consultations’ on matters like more devolution for islands.
All governments through history get stuck into the pork barrel when it suits them but it has to be said that the SNP Government is by some way the most deliberately strategised in doling out the moolah. The sleight of hand is that this is no more than taxpayers money coming home again.
The celebrations begin in the lead up to St Andrew’s Day on 30th November with major events in Aberdeen, Argyll and Bute, Dundee, East Lothian, Fife, Glasgow, Dundee and Perth and Kinross. The Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh will also host a St Andrew’s Day Celebration event. The money also supports the Virgin Money Street of Light which begins on St Andrew’s Day as part of Edinburgh’s Christmas.
Five Hogmanay celebrations will be supported through the fund, with events in The Western Isles, East Lothian, Edinburgh, Falkirk and Stirling.
A range of events will also take place across Scotland to celebrate Burns Night, including Burns Unplugged at the National Museums Scotland, Edinburgh. The Scottish Storytelling Centre will host Burnsfest 2016, while the Big Burns Supper Festival will be held in Dumfries and Galloway. A Big Burns Stramash in the Highlands and Alloway 1759 will take place in South Ayrshire, while Burns Birthday in Mauchline will be held in East Ayrshire.
Further information on all the individual events can be found online here.