By Nicola Killean

ALL children and young people have great potential. They have innate skills, creativity and talents to be nurtured. However, far too many children face huge barriers to being able to recognise and develop their potential. Poverty, discrimination, trauma, abuse and other inequalities greatly limit their opportunities to learn, grow and become confident, healthy adults.

Scotland needs a national commitment to use arts and culture – targeted and in full partnership with community members – as a long-term intervention to improve lives and strengthen communities. After 18 months of disrupted education and with an uncertain future ahead, our youngest generation need and deserve all the support we can provide.

Sistema Scotland believes that long-term, immersive engagement in place-based music education, underpinned by nurturing relationships with the teaching musicians, has a critical role to play in inspiring individuals and communities. This can be seen in our Big Noise programmes; embedded in communities, working with children from birth to adulthood, in-school and after-school, across the academic year and holidays. Big Noise is a constant in the children's lives.

Music is the joyful, creative pulse at the heart of each Big Noise community. However, it is not the end point. It is the means to achieving a range of highly positive outcomes, evidenced through independent evaluation by the Glasgow Centre for Population Health: increased confidence, improved resilience, enhanced creativity, better teamwork skills, and greater physical and emotional wellbeing.

Big Noise runs successfully in Raploch, Fallin, Govanhill, Torry and Douglas, with Wester Hailes starting in 2022. More than 2,800 children take part. However, we want more. We want a Scotland where every community that needs and wants it can have their own version of Big Noise. We use music, but it could be dance or theatre. What is vital is to ensure the combination of creative engagement with trusting relationships, an approach that is long term and consistent, an offer that is regular and intensive, and a staff team flexible and committed enough to do everything needed to support children and young people to thrive.

I have seen this professional relationship develop between Big Noise musicians, participants and families many times. It inhabits a space of complete creative trust and openness. It generates a sense of authenticity between the adult and young person that allows for a shift in power. This is co-creation in action. This relationship has the flexibility to move beyond music, towards supporting wellbeing and delivering wider support needs.

Are we bold enough to use different methods to achieve different results?

Can we move beyond transaction to transformation?

Can we trust Scotland’s creatives to help lead the way?

Culture is not a luxury; it is key to how we understand ourselves and our world. I believe Scotland has the creative talent to make genuine, long-term commitments to our communities coping with poverty and multiple deprivation. Sistema Scotland wants to make a Big Noise about this. We know Scotland’s children deserve more. We hope you will join in our tune for change.

Nicola Killean OBE is CEO of Sistema Scotland