This week a very special group of budding musicians showcased their talent with a concert to celebrate the second birthday of Big Noise Torry.
Colleagues who attended on behalf of Aberdeen City Council, including the Lord Provost, came away with a spring in their step and were inspired by what they saw.
Having watched the project grow and evolve since it was established, I must take the opportunity to pass on my own birthday wishes not only to the school pupils who take centre stage but the many staff, parents, carers and members of the wider community who have played their part in the success of Big Noise Torry.
The second birthday coincided with the publication of an independent report on the impact to date, which painted an overwhelmingly positive picture of the way in which this innovative approach has made a tangible difference to those participating and the community as a whole.
Big Noise Torry launched in the summer of 2015, run by Sistema Scotland and funded predominantly by Aberdeen City Council with support from partners. It became the third of a network of orchestra centres in Scotland, offering free music lessons as a way of engaging and uniting not only school pupils but members of the community from babies through to adults. More than 500 pupils of Walker Road and Tullos primary schools are at the heart of the project.
As a local authority we have made a six-year commitment to Big Noise Torry and it is a significant commitment at that. Aberdeen City Council contributes 75% of the funding to the project, amounting to £320,000 in 2016/17 and up to £469,000 in the current year.
That level of funding is not given lightly. From the outset Big Noise Torry demonstrated the potential to do something different in one of Aberdeen’s key regeneration communities and to adopt a new approach – the evidence we have had subsequently shows that it is indeed delivering what we hoped and believed it would.
Whilst music is the vibrant bedrock of Big Noise Torry, the project is an important part of a much wider commitment to ensuring a more prosperous future for all those in communities throughout Aberdeen – and nurturing the next generation is vital to meeting those aims.
The evaluation report has given great detail on the success so far and the potential for the future, the joy in each performance the pupils give brings to life the value of the initiative and the contribution it is making to life in Torry.