CULTURE Minister Christina McKelvie visited a music and social change programme in Glasgow to see first-hand how it is transforming lives.
Ms McKelvie met with young participants and staff at Big Noise Govanhill including head of centre Kate McPhail, Sistema Scotland chair Benny Higgins, and the charity’s incoming chief executive Vicky Williams.
The minister was given a tour of the centre and had the opportunity to watch some of the music lessons and practice taking place during the after-school session. Big Noise Govanhill recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.
Since launching in 2013, the programme has grown to support around 1,250 members, from babies to S6, and their families. It supports young people to reach their full potential by helping them develop vital life skills such as confidence, resilience, creativity, and aspiration, while also strengthening community ties through music and nurturing relationships.
Studies of the Big Noise model have found it enhances academic skills in some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged areas, including listening, problem-solving, and concentration, as well as increasing participants’ self-esteem, sense of belonging, and happiness.
Big Noise Govanhill operates in schools and nurseries and as an after-school club, reducing barriers for parents seeking work or training. Healthy food is also provided before all activity sessions.
During her visit, Ms McKelvie, who was joined by Glasgow Central MP Alison Thewliss, chatted with young participants during their snack time and was given the chance to watch them practicing their instruments.
This included United Orchestra Strings, with participants aged from P7 to S5, and P5 brass recruits to the Beginners Band. Sistema Scotland now runs six Big Noise centres supporting a combined 3,500 children and young people in communities around Scotland including in Govanhill, Raploch and Fallin in Stirling, Douglas in Dundee, Torry in Aberdeen, and Wester Hailes in Edinburgh.
The Scottish Government has invested in Sistema Scotland’s Big Noise programmes for over a decade. Earlier this year, it committed increased support for 2023/24 to ensure the sustainability of the programmes in an increasingly challenging funding context. In addition, the organisation continues to raise significant funding from private trusts, foundations, lotteries, corporations, and individuals.
Christina McKelvie, Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development, said:
“It was really fulfilling to see the positive impact the Big Noise programme continues to make on young people’s lives in Govanhill.
“We are proud to have supported Sistema Scotland since 2012. Over the past decade, Scottish Government funding has meant that thousands of young people from disadvantaged communities have benefited from this rewarding programme.
“Congratulations to Sistema Scotland for continuing to deliver such an engaging and worthwhile programme.”
Vicky Williams, who was recently announced as Sistema Scotland’s new chief executive, said:
“It was fantastic to welcome Culture Minister Christina McKelvie to Big Noise Govanhill and we are grateful for her support.
“The visit gave Ms McKelvie the chance to learn more about what we do in Govanhill and in our five other centres across Scotland, and to see first-hand the impact it is having on young people and the wider community.
“It is clear that Big Noise, through nurturing and supportive relationships, helps children and young people reach their full potential by equipping them with vital life skills and enhancing their academic skills.
“We also know that taking part in Big Noise increases confidence and self-esteem, as well as participants’ creativity, aspiration and sense of belonging.”