An Lanntair at dusk
The culture of the islands is a continuing source of pride and strength to its residents and to the many islanders who have made their homes on the UK mainland or overseas. The Comhairle welcomes the opportunity afforded by this Cultural Strategy to formally recognise, safeguard and develop our cultural identity in partnership with local and national agencies, community organisations and individuals.
The Gaelic language, one of the oldest surviving languages in Europe, is what makes our culture unique. Gaelic is the foundation of most of our cultural expression, its retention as a living language is essential for the sustainability of our culture and is therefore central to this strategy.
In the context of the islands’ economy and demographics, welcoming and supporting diverse cultural activities plays an important part in retaining the current population and attracting new and economically active people to settle here. It is often through creative practice - music, art, drama - that the islands’ cultural heritage blends with other diverse and contemporary cultures to produce a richer cultural experience.
The Outer Hebrides is lucky to have a healthy community of trained and skilled professional ‘artists’ – pipers, visual artists, potters - who are actively creating our culture of today and tomorrow through practising their ‘art’ and by passing on their skills and knowledge. This strategy recognises the resource which their skills offer and aspires to meet their needs in order to allow them to flourish.
It is primarily as a result of the dedication and commitment of volunteers that the cultural sector in the Outer Hebrides is as flourishing and vibrant as it is today. The valuable work put in by such volunteers to organise events and sustain organisations throughout the islands is outstanding, and is therefore duly recognised and acknowledged within this Strategy.
I welcome the publication of this Strategy. It is long overdue and gives the culture of the Outer Hebrides the recognition and credibility it deserves. In a day when the inexorable forces of globalisation are sweeping away distinct cultures and replacing them with one which is uniform to all, dictated by the media, it is important that our unique Hebridean culture has an advocate, which will strive for its survival and growth. This strategy is intended to be a living and evolving document, which enshrines the vision of all partners for Hebridean culture, well into the future.
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
Elsie Mitchell: Arts Development Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org