By Iain Munro, CEO, Creative Scotland

THE cultural landscape of Scotland has undoubtedly been transformed by funding from the National Lottery. Over the past 25 years, a total of £583 million has been used to support 16,000 arts, screen and creative organisations and projects in every corner of the country. The creative life of Scotland would be a lot less vibrant without it.

From its very inception, the National Lottery injected something of the art of the possible into Scotland’s cultural life, helping a diverse range of artists advance their practice and supporting people in their creativity. The idea that individuals and communities can bring alive their creative dreams and passions is an integral part of what the National Lottery achieves, delivering wide public benefit.

I joined the Scottish Arts Council (the predecessor to Creative Scotland) in the mid-1990s and saw at first hand how money from the recently launched National Lottery began to make a profound impact on the arts. Some of those early projects were big building developments, but the funding soon began to impact on an extraordinarily broad spectrum of creative work.

Some of the very first awards in Scotland were for projects like Lochbroom FM, a community radio station based in Ullapool, and the Carriba Stargazers Steel Band, a Glasgow group that used a National Lottery award to buy instruments. Others were for public art, or lighting, sound and seating equipment in local venues. All of these projects were community-led, enabling people to bring their creative ambitions to life.

Much attention over the past 25 years has naturally focused on the bigger, more nationally significant and often award-winning projects. They include the Pier Arts Centre in Orkney, a contemporary art gallery of superb architectural quality that is also home to an internationally significant museum collection, and Platform at The Bridge in Easterhouse which breaks down barriers by housing the arts alongside the local library, swimming pool, college and adult learning centre.

Another great example is the Screen Machine, an articulated lorry that unfolds into the kind of high-quality cinema experience you’d find in any city. It literally goes over the humpbacked bridges of Scotland and into some of the most rural and remote parts of the country, enabling people to experience the same blockbuster movies at the same time as everyone else.

Fantastic films have also been supported and helped Scottish talent to flourish. For example, David Mackenzie’s Young Adam, starring Ewan McGregor, and Peter Mullan’s acclaimed Magdelene Sisters. More recently there have been Wild Rose, written by Nicole Taylor , and Brian Welsh’s Beats, both of which have experienced considerable audience success and Bafta Scotland awards.

The National Lottery’s 25th birthday is an opportunity to recapture some of the spirit of the art of the possible that was generated in those early days. One thing is certain, National Lottery funds remain centrally important. There are practical reasons for that – it’s a third of Creative Scotland’s income – so, it’s important for us to celebrate its successes so that people right across Scotland recognise its achievements and continue to support it. Ultimately, it’s the ticket sales that generate the income that gets passed by us back into the hands of individuals and communities. That virtuous circle is very important, and we need to ensure its health for the future to help sustain a vibrant creative life for everyone in Scotland.