Mike Vickers' Blog

February 25, 2019

Towards Local Decisions

Filed under: economics, Music, Politics, Scotland — derryvickers @ 5:16 pm

In a previous blog I reported on going to hear the Scottish Ensemble playing music with a political context.

Yet again the question has been raised as to whether music tuition should be free in Scottish Schools. The musical flash mob yesterday before the Midlothian Council Offices changed the councillors’ decision to keep free music tuition in the curriculum. Applause all round: Democracy triumphs.

True, but someone else suffers. Budgets are limited from many causes and it is unhelpful in my view to point fingers. One can only hope that Brexit will not make money scarcer still in this country. West Lothian I believe has come to as sensible compromise on music tuition with annual fees for those who want to learn to play for those whose parents can and free for those who can’t; but even here I understand that the number of pupils wanting to continue to play has gone down this year. And I wonder can the West Lothian Council hold its compromise. Will what’s happened in Midlothian affect West Lothian’s decision?

It seems to me that there has to be much more open discussion about priorities on spending in Linlithgow and the Community Council has a central role here supported by its Ward Councillors and the Community Development Trust should be involved. Music, Buses, Recycling, you name it, its there.

But of course, Linlithgow and Linlithgow Bridge is not an island; we are part of West Lothian as a whole and any such discussion on priorities needs to encompass the whole Authority. West Lothian Council will say that they involved the whole community in the last Budget Round; but I sat through the Council Meeting where the budget and cuts were discussed and seemly random dictates were instructed to council officers: cuts or no cuts to music teaching, how many recycling centres should go; which village halls should seek cash through the Community Empowerment Bill; only this week the Link Linlithgow budget is to be reduced. I believe we must do better. and Community Councils are central here.

I have no ready solution, but our communities must be much more closely integrated into the budgeting process so, at least, they understand that money is ‘limited’, and they understand why their preferred groups has less funds from the central pot than last year.

But back to our concert; you may like Gabriela Montero, a Venezuelan talking about her piece ‘Babel’ and how her country is being ripped apart by political strife and how she considers that music is essential to continued humanity in her country Venezuela. Thank heavens we in Scotland ar not in this political turmoil . Having played her new piece supported strongly by the strings of the Scottish Ensemble, at the applause, she pulled a Venezuelan flag out and this brought the house down.

OK I’m sticking up for continued good music in Scotland and Montero’s will underpin why, there are many other deserving groups, Linlithgow Link is one such and I believe that our Community Council need to take a much more active part along with the Linlithgow Community Development Trust in working towards a better understand of where the balance in priorities should be in our Town.

If you want to hear more of Gabriela Montero rationale for her Babel please go to:

https://scottishensemble.co.uk/magazine/venezuelan-pianist-gabriela-montero-discusses-her-new-piece-babel/

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