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Last Updated: Sunday, 30 November, 2003, 01:53 GMT
McConnell's 'arts for all' vision
"Culture is woven into every part of our life," said Jack McConnell
Access to the arts should be available to all, the first minister has said as he set out the Scottish Executive's new direction on culture.

Jack McConnell described his vision of a cultural policy sitting at the heart of government in a speech at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

He said that making arts and culture an integral part of schooling would encourage access to it for everyone.

Culture minister Frank McAveety and senior figures from Scotland's arts and culture community attended the St Andrew's Day address in Glasgow.

Pillars of society

"Culture and creativity is woven into every part of our national life, and there is so much good that government can do by making those connections and having an eye to the bigger picture," Mr McConnell said.

"We need to agree first and foremost how pervasive and fundamental cultural activity and development is - how it's as necessary in our planning policies as in our schools. As relevant to health improvement as it is to our economic development.

Mr McConnell said that in the last century the concepts of education and health for all became "pillars of modern society".

"I do not think it is impractical or romantic to introduce the idea that our next major enterprise will be arts for all," he said.

Graham Berry, director of the Scottish Arts Council, hailed the First Minister's speech, saying: "We warmly welcome Mr McConnell's recognition of the important contribution the arts can make across all aspects of public life."

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