Covid-hit artists and musicians to tutor island youngsters

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Freelance creative artists and musicians who have lost work due to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit will tutor primary school children across Scotland’s island communities as part of a new scheme.

Up to 50 tutors will work with primary schools, including those in the Outer Hebrides, Skye, Raasay and the Small Isles, to lead cultural workshops on Scotland’s indigenous languages and dialects, music, drama, dance and visual art.

Through a shadowing scheme, tutors will work with and support the development of assistant tutors to deliver the workshops as part of the primary school curriculum.

Gaelic arts body Fèisean nan Gàidheal will deliver the programme in Na h-Eileanan Siar, Orkney, Shetland, Argyll and Bute, Highland and North Ayrshire.

The University of the Highlands and Islands will offer support to the tutors, leading to accreditation for their work.

Minister for Higher and Further Education, Youth Employment and Training Jamie Hepburn, said many freelancers had experienced considerable financial hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

On top of this, he said, many touring musicians also faced challenges, due to the UK’s exit from the EU, for some time to come.

‘This new programme will offer valuable re-training and employment opportunities for creative freelancers to work across all of our 93 inhabited Scottish islands,’ added Mr Hepburn.

‘Not only will school children get to learn more of the rich cultural diversity across our island communities, this project will also help to promote Gaelic, Shetlandic and Scots languages and local dialects distinctive to islands such as Orkney.’

Arthur Cormack, Fèisean nan Gàidheal’s CEO, said: ‘Fèisean nan Gàidheal is grateful for support from the Scottish Government in delivering this new programme which will help freelance creative practitioners recover from the economic effects of the pandemic.

‘Training will be an important part of the programme with the aim of increasing the resilience of freelancers and better equipping them to work in school settings in the future.

‘All primary schools across our islands have been presented with an exciting opportunity to enable local artists to work with one year group, delving into local culture integral to our island communities.’

The programme is named Treòir (Gaelic) | Voar (Shetlandic dialect) | Virr (used in Scots and Norse) and is funded by the National Transition Training Fund and the Islands Programme funding from the Scottish Government to support delivery of the National Islands Plan.