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End of excellence?

Pauline McLean | 14:49 UK time, Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Ironic that on the very week Celtic Connections ends to critical acclaim and a million pounds of tickets sold, the National Centre for Excellence in Traditional Music in Plockton is earmarked for closure.

Clumsy title for an extraordinary facility which over the past 10 years has produced a steady flow of musicians who've gone on to perform, teach or simply promote traditional music around the world.

Director Dougie Pincock said on BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland that like any arts organisation, he expected budget cuts, but the notion of closing the whole centre has taken him, and the traditional music community, by surprise.

Of course Highland Council, like all councils, faces some tough decisions this year.

And arts projects remain the soft option.

The task for the wider community is to flag up how vital such resources are and that's where a community of noisy outspoken musicians comes in handy.

The first of several protests is pencilled for Glasgow's George Square on Saturday.

Others will follow.

There's also an online petition. Don't expect them to go quietly.


  • Comment number 1.

    I suppose that in these straightened times, it must be the greatest good for the greatest number and personally I would support the closure of anything like this, catering as it does for a very small minority. If any such niche organisation cannot finance itself from its' supporters, it should be allowed to quietly expire.

    Also, I find the juxtaposition with Celtic Connections a bit disingenuous as most of it's output seems quite contemporary.

  • Comment number 2.

    I suspect this completely unacceptable cut has been included as a lightening rod to attract criticism and deflect this away from other proposals to cut the budget for classroom assistants, etc, across the Highlands.
    I'm sure we will see nationwide dissent over this proposal, allowing the council's Lib Dem leadership to "save" the facility while the remainder of the cuts are quietly passed.
    See those cuddly and inoffensive Lib Dems who would never have said boo to a goose in the past, looks like they have been away on a political savvy course or two.

  • Comment number 3.

    GBC wrote
    "Also, I find the juxtaposition with Celtic Connections a bit disingenuous as most of it's output seems quite contemporary."

    If you had looked at the programme or indeed been to any of the gigs You would find that lots of the acts performing at Celtic connections are in fact past pupils and tutors from the school.

    It always suprises me how people have little idea or indeed understanding of the richness and heritage of their own culture and how they really don't care if it is allowed quietly expire.

  • Comment number 4.

    As a former pupil of the "mainstream" school where the music school pupils also attended, I witnessed first hand the drive and dedication of these stalwarts of traditional music, some of whom had relocated from all corners of Scotland to pursue their passion for music and celebrate their heritage.
    I find it insulting that GBC would support the closure of such a valuable resource and dismiss it as an insignificance, stating it benefits only a "small minority". As Jaynieboy rightly mentioned, on the Celtic Connections programme you will find countless ex-pupils of the music school heading up sold-out shows, so that statement was really a juxtaposition it itself.
    And one thing I can guarantee - if there to be any expiration, it won't be quiet.

  • Comment number 5.

    A small minority? GBC should take at look that the online petition ( on February 1 which a few moments ago boasted 6999 signatures. As janjansatnav's message illustates, it is not only music students who benefit from their specialist education.


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