Glasgow & West Scotland

Glasgow backs Govanhill Big Noise project

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Media captionSome 450 children are currently involved with Big Noise Raploch

Glasgow City Council has confirmed its support for a Sistema Big Noise children's orchestra - similar to the one in Stirling's Raploch area - to be set up in the city.

Councillors gave their backing to establishing the orchestra in the Govanhill area.

It is hoped some 800 children will be involved by 2017.

The Scottish government is currently considering a funding bid for the project.

Big Noise Raploch was established in 2008 with the aim of helping children learn about life, teamwork, citizenship, to be creative, to have fun and to play.

It was inspired by the pioneering El Sistema orchestra in Venezuela, which has reached hundreds of thousands of children from deprived communities over the past 37 years.

Improved relationships

The Venezuelan orchestra visited Raploch in June to perform alongside local children at an open air concert, which was broadcast to millions worldwide, as part of the London 2012 Festival.

About 450 children currently participate weekly in the Raploch programme.

An independent evaluation of Big Noise Raploch which was commissioned by the Scottish government reported last year that there is strong evidence that the project boosts children's personal and social development, confidence, self esteem, social skills, and the ability to concentrate.

As a result of Big Noise, families report improved relationships at home, wider social networks and more shared activities between parents and children.

Campaigners for a Govanhill Big Noise Centre hope it will also help bring people from diverse ethnic backgrounds together.

A report to the council's Executive Committee meeting said the area "faces significant physical, economic, social and environmental challenges".

It added: "Govanhill is an ethnically diverse community with around a third of local residents being drawn from ethnic minority communities.

"Despite serious social issues, there remains a real community spirit amongst local people who at times struggle to understand and embrace the rich mix of cultures.

"A widely held view is that people from different groups would mix more freely if there were activities and events which promoted this, especially children and young adults."

'Exciting day'

Based on the principles developed in Raploch, the organisation hopes to start with young children in the local primary and nursery schools and build and expand the orchestral programme as the children grow and younger age groups are brought into the programme.

The community of Govanhill itself has been lobbying for the development of a Big Noise Centre, with several meetings and discussions held over the past year.

Lyn Ewing, chair of Govanhill Community Development Trust, said council backing for the centre was "an exciting day" for the area.

"We have been working hard to help Sistema Scotland bring the Big Noise project to Govanhill and we're delighted that councillors have shown unanimous support today," she said.

"We look forward to welcoming Sistema to Govanhill and to working with the local community to make Big Noise Govanhill a huge success."

It is estimated the project would cost about £150,000 in the first year - rising to £610,000 by year five.

Sistema Scotland has said similar campaigns are under way for Big Noise orchestras to be established in Aberdeen, Fife and Dundee.

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