Cultural Services Annual Report 2021-2022
2021 saw frontline library services resume to some semblance of normality with customers returning to our Covid safe libraries. We were delighted to welcome back a lot of old friends as well as new borrowers keen to get their hands on a good read.
“Hello Friends at Inverclyde Library. “Thank you so much for bringing a new dimension to my life in the way of books. It has filled an empty space during our lockdowns, and I am so very grateful. I feel privileged, and wish I could do something in return other than say a very huge Thank You – 1 million of them”.
"Was in a library for the first time since Feb 2020. Could have wept. So lovely. Very helpful and kind staff pointed us to the craft corner and there we stayed for an hour. Quiet and mellow, and pens and Lego. Got ten books."
"As always a great visit to the library staff are great and were helpful as always. Visited on a Saturday morning also so nice to see it is opened at weekends too. Printed out our boarding passes, PDFs and Covid travel documents all for under £1 ...... fantastic service as always"
Port Glasgow Library reopened to the public again in August 2021 after a period of seven months’ closure for refurbishment. The refurbishment brought about a significant number of changes to the building and as a result the library in general. The layout of the library was reconfigured with new, modern, movable shelving and PC desks. This has resulted in a library which looks clean, fresh and new and allows flexibility to create space for various library events and activities.
South West Library at Barr’s Cottage has undergone somewhat of a transformation both inside and out. In May 2021 the BBC chose South West Library as their setting for the filming of Julia Donaldson’s Princess Mirror-Belle. They painted walls throughout, changed the blinds to match in with the already existing colour scheme of the furniture and attached wheels to the static bookshelves. As a result we now have a much more flexible space.
March 2022 saw the announcement that an Unexpected Garden (“The Drying Green”) was being created in the previously derelict space outside. This exciting project is being developed in partnership with socially engaged arts charity RIG Arts as part of the national Dandelion Project. It will culminate with a Harvest Festival in the autumn and will leave a legacy of a transformed Reading Garden for the community and library users alike.
Gourock Library recently welcomed back local primary schools for a series of visits to the library. These were very special events as we had not seen our schools for two years.
Both Gourock Primary and St Ninian’s Primary schools are working towards Reading Schools Accreditation so we organised additional visits to support their School Reading Ambassadors.
Children are encouraged to become Reading Ambassadors within the school and have the responsibility of running the school library; our sessions included learning about how stock is chosen, displayed, issued and returned. We also talked about gathering stock for themed displays and the children had the opportunity to make their own displays. We discussed how the school library will differ to our public library and how best the space could be utilised. The Reading Ambassadors all received a certificate at the end of each session and hopefully we are helping to develop Inverclyde library staff of the future!
In May 2021, Kilmacolm Library celebrated its 10 year anniversary as part of the Kilmacolm New Community Centre on Lochwinnoch Road. We managed to have a Covid safe birthday celebration with some special friends coming along.
A key focus of library programming this year was climate change. Together with partners Beacon Arts Centre, Belville Community Garden Trust, and RIG Arts, Inverclyde Libraries became one of seven hubs around Scotland to become Climate Beacons in the lead up to COP26 in Oct-Nov 2021. Inverclyde’s role was to focus on climate change mitigation and adaptation as part of its recovery from COVID-19. Inverclyde Libraries’ programme started on 1 October with our Fun Palace Library Challenge where we invited the local community and some of our partners to “plant a bulb, and hopes and dreams for a climate-stable world”. Our Programme Development Librarian also took part in a live Facebook interview with Lewis Hou of Science Ceilidh and three researchers-in-residence, ‘Growing against Inequalities’(5) where discussions explored issues including the impact of community green spaces in connecting communities, the role of community gardens in mitigating climate change and tackling inequalities. We then launched two climate-focused Chatty Cafés; ‘Chat & Change’ where we invited speakers from various community organisations including Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park, Inverclyde Buzz, and Blooming Inverkip to speak about the effects of climate change and local projects, and ‘Make it Up’ where local artist, Gaye McLean, demonstrated how to upcycle and recycle everyday materials into junk journals. Feedback from attendees was very positive: ‘I really enjoyed your class yesterday, it looks like it will be very informative. I’ve already got my family switching off lights. Putting their washing on for shorter times etc.’ Our penultimate event was an Eco-exchange with author and climate activist, Alastair McIntosh and his guest Maria from West Papua, Indonesia, in Gourock Library. The chaired discussion covered many topics examined in Alastair’s climate-focused book, Riders on the Storm. The event was well attended and received very positive feedback including ‘Alastair and Maria were inspirational’ and ‘looking to change personal habits to help climate change…’ The event was also live streamed on Facebook with a reach of 298. The adult programme concluded in November 2021 with a visit to HMP Greenock by writer Lesley Riddoch to include prisoners in the climate conversation. A total of 20 students from the Education Centre attended and feedback included, ‘I feel more inclined to recycle and help the planet’ and ‘thank you for the opportunity to take part in this event’.
One of the challenges this year has been re-connecting with customers, many with limited confidence in digital engagement and knowledge of digital skills. To address these challenges for adults within the community, “Discover IT Online” was launched in April 2021. The twice weekly informal digital skills’ sessions ran on an online platform over six weeks. Much of the content was based on the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisation (SCVO) Essential Digital Skills Toolkit. Feedback from customers included, “Joining the sessions made me feel more confident about using my iPad therefore felt happier” and “Was able to laugh through sessions”, important comments during a time when digital skills were essential and mental health an area of particular concern. Our Techy Tea Break programme continued and the troubleshooting Device Advice phone-in sessions continued until in-person sessions delivered by frontline staff resumed again in September 2021.
We continued to offer our online Book Group throughout 2021 and 2022, a service which complements our four in-person book groups. Between September 2021 and March 2022, we provided 30 book group sessions and hosted 123 attendees. Another online service which has gone from strength to strength since the outbreak of Covid-19 is Read & Recommend, a Facebook group which is monitored by staff and encourages group members to comment on books they have read on particular themes. In April 2021 there were 193 members of the group which increased to 232 members by March 2022. Members enjoy posting their recommendations and memes. Digital resources continue to rise in popularity. During 2021-22, a total of 13,138 digital loans of eBooks and eAudio books were issued from our digital platform, BorrowBox, to adults.
As Covid restrictions gradually eased, important and valued partnership working also resumed. Greenock Central and Port Glasgow branches again facilitated CLD-led employability sessions. Port Glasgow library continued to facilitate the volunteer-led Macmillan Cancer Support hub in partnership with Your Voice. In partnership with the Audiology department at Inverclyde Royal Hospital (IRH), we resumed the distribution of NHS hearing aid batteries with a total of 1,353 being issued from library branches. Feedback from IRH noted that the distribution of hearing aid batteries from library branches took pressure off the hospital clinic which had been closed for a period during the pandemic. The distribution of NHS walking stick/ crutch ferrules in partnership with Inverclyde Centre for Independent Living (ICIL) also resumed with 43 in total being distributed throughout the year. This partnership included contribution to “Hi Vis” fortnight in June 2021 which celebrated the diversity of reading within libraries for those with visual impairments. ICIL demonstrated a digital magnifier and Talking Telegraph via video. New partnerships were also formed as Inverclyde Libraries became a registered Playlist for Life Help Point in September 2021 providing valuable information about creating a music playlist for those living with dementia supported with staff training.
Re-engagement with customers and the resumption of previous services was important to our recovery programme and our popular in-person Chatty Cafés: Chatty Café Crafters, Bead & Blether in South West Library and Blooms & Biccies in Kilmacolm Library, resumed in branches in September 2021. Initially created to tackle social isolation and loneliness, their reintroduction was a priority given that these conditions are detrimental to the wellbeing of many in the Inverclyde community and was exacerbated by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns.
In November 2021, Inverclyde Libraries celebrated Book Week Scotland (in partnership with Scottish Book Trust (SBT), a national event which celebrates books and reading for pleasure. With a ‘Celebration’ theme, our programme for adults included examining and celebrating the power of books with writer and retired local GP Anne Pettigrew, a crochet Tea Party with Gaye McLean, a local writer’s event hosted by our Writer in Residence, Katharine Macfarlane, and A Celebratory Feast where staff members attempted recipes from our collection of cookery books and posted the results on social media. Including the two climate-focused events at HMP Greenock, the in-person events attracted 48 attendees, the online event had a reach of 5,936 on Facebook and 2,403 impressions on Twitter, and we had 19 book issues from associated branch displays.
Some of the themes the library service celebrated throughout the year included Men’s Health Month, LGBTQ History Month, Time to Talk Day, Women’s History Month, International Women’s Day and Autism Acceptance Week. For Christmas we celebrated by offering all our groups a chat and a mince pie, and to include our Books on Wheels customers, we sent them a little Christmas cheer, a teabag, shortbread biscuit and Christmas card, with their book deliveries. Our Make it Up Chatty Café made some Christmas decorations for the environmentally-friendly book tree using recycled materials (7). To brighten customers’ days on Blue Monday in January 2022 we distributed 49 small gift bags to customers as part of our Inverkind initiative. We repeated this gesture on Random Acts of Kindness Day in February gifting 92 bags in total to people using the library. We had some very nice feedback including, “Great service” and “Going home to enjoy a cuppa and my shortbread”.
Children and Young People’s Services
The aim of Young People’s Services (YPS) programming in 2021-22 was to continue to find ways to reach children and families during the Covid-19 pandemic and to reinstate and develop services. All elements of the programme are tied to Forward: Scotland’s Public Library Strategy 2021-2025 and Inverclyde Libraries’ Service Improvement Plan 2021-22. In addition, Inverclyde Libraries has submitted evidence to be considered for the Inverclyde Rights of the Child Award showing commitment to the UNCRC in all elements of service.
2,816 Bookbug Bags gifted
241 face to face Bookbug sessions
39 outreach visits
29 school visits to the library
322 Summer Reading Challenge participants
£17,600 Public Library Improvement Award from Scottish Library and Information Council
Bookbug is the book sharing programme delivered in partnership with national reading charity Scottish Book Trust (SBT), local authorities, libraries and health trusts. Bookbug encourages parents and carers to share books with their children from an early age to inspire a love of reading in every child. Inverclyde Libraries manages and delivers all aspects of the national programme within Inverclyde including; session delivery and support, bag distribution, Bookbug’s Library Challenge, Bookbug Week, training and marketing.
The aim of the 2021-22 programme was to return to full face to face Bookbug programme whilst navigating the Covid-19 guidance at all times.
2,816 Bookbug bags were gifted to children in Inverclyde. This includes the distribution of Baby and Toddler Bags to be gifted by health visiting teams. Due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions a YouTube video was recorded and shared with all early years establishments to celebrate the gifting of the Bookbug Explorer Bags. 834 Explorer bags (including 4 Gaelic bags) were distributed to ante pre-school children in Inverclyde. 774 Primary 1 Family Bags (including 6 Gaelic Bags) were gifted and this was also supported by a virtual library visit offered to primary schools registered in the Libraries Inspire! programme.
The return to face to face Bookbug sessions was in demand within the community and as soon as restrictions allowed, Bookbug sessions were modified to ensure safety at all times. There were a total of 241 Bookbug sessions reaching 2,837 children and 2,593 adults. We were delighted to return to an outreach programme with Barnardo’s where 7 sessions took place.
Face to face monthly Au-some Bookbug sessions returned in February. These sessions provide enhanced Makaton signing and Au-some sensory resources are available to children and families.
Bookbug Week’s theme was Bookbug’s Big Splash and this was a busy week with a song and rhyme every day throughout the week. This culminated in Big Bookbug visiting Kilmacolm Library for its 10th anniversary celebration. (8 Bookbug Week funding was used to gift 30 Big Splash Packs to families supported by Barnardo’s. These packs contained bath books, bath toys and an invitation to join the online Bookbug Week Session.
Inverclyde was selected by SBT to take part in a pilot project regarding the provision of dual language picture books. Centres across Inverclyde were invited to take part and 15 requests from early years settings, Home Start and Barnardo’s were received which resulted in the team requesting and distributing 288 books from SBT in dual languages. There was a large volume of Arabic requests but also Urdu and Pashto. The pilot is currently being evaluated.
With Bookbug sessions back to pre-covid levels, the Bookbug Library Challenge launched on World Book Day in March 2022. The challenge would run until end April 2022 and 351 children took part with 172 children receiving 2 or more certificates. 84 children joined the library to take part. The number of children who received 2 or more certificates and the number of new library members increased when compared with 2019.
The Libraries Inspire! programme is a series of public library workshops designed to enhance primary school literacy programmes and promote library membership. Sessions are offered suited to each level of primary education on a rolling programme during each academic year. All schools across Inverclyde were invited to participate in each of the sessions with delivery adjusted for 2021-22 to enable a blended programme of visits with classroom-based worksheets and the provision of related book stock to encourage school-based reading for pleasure. It meets all four strands of the Curriculum for Excellence, and aims to inspire children to read for pleasure and for them to be inspired by all the services available at their local library.
16 primary schools signed up to take part in the Libraries Inspire! Programme in 2021-22. To enhance communications with schools a Libraries Inspire! Teams channel was set up.
In recognition of the new SBT Reading Schools accreditation programme, all Libraries Inspire! activity has been aligned to show how each workshop maps to the Reading Schools indicators. This gives each school evidence as they progress through the accreditation process and levels.
As well as inviting classes into the library, the service employs an Outreach Library Officer who takes the library to the schools, thanks to generous funding from the Scottish Attainment Challenge. Over the course of the 2021-22 school session, the Officer facilitated 136 sessions including pupil activities, family learning workshops and support for schools, resulting in engagement with 2,528 children, 288 staff and 170 parents.
With the Reading Schools Accreditation being opened to the West Partnership this session, the Outreach Library Officer and YPS team immediately recognised this as an opportunity to align all school resources to the Reading Schools Accreditation Framework, allowing schools to see clearly how participating in the Libraries Inspire! workshops and other school materials would contribute to their Reading Schools application. Reading Schools resources and the support on offer to schools have received very positive feedback from SBT who have requested an article be written about how Inverclyde Libraries are contributing to the authority’s Reading Schools journey.
82% of all Inverclyde state schools have now engaged with the Reading Schools initiative.
-90% of Primary Schools
-67% of Secondary Schools
-50% of ASN Schools
Of the 23 schools who have enrolled in the programme, 18% have been awarded accreditation this session; 3 schools (11%) have been awarded Core accreditation and 2 (7%) have been awarded Gold. The remaining 56% will continue their journey to accreditation next session, which far exceeds the initial target of 10% of all schools apply for Core accreditation by June 2022.
The Outreach Library Officer also worked with various primary schools on Reading for Pleasure projects, which were well received by all involved.
Thanks to a successful Public Library Improvement Fund award from SLIC in 2020/21, the Library of Kindness was created and made available to all schools in 2021/22. This enabled iPads to be supplied to schools enabling access to the BorrowBox service in addition to six Read for Empathy Collections being available to primary and secondary schools. Also included were a variety of online author visits which schools could access throughout the school year. Through the use of the Library of Kindness iPads, children’s eAudio issues increased by 109%. Children’s eBooks increased by 48% when comparing with the same period last year.
In September 2021, the popular after-school Library Club for 8-12 year olds returned to face to face weekly meetings during school term time. Running in 3 libraries, 22 children participated in the club which includes a mix of Lego, digital, literacy and craft activities on different themes each month. New themes were created for the new term including on climate to fit with Inverclyde’s role as Climate Beacon. Each session is supported by session plans developed by Young People’s Services and delivered by library staff enthusiastically building on these plans to suit their Library Club members.
“Thank you so much! X really enjoyed it and can’t wait to go back” Parent
The YPS Events Programme aims to offer a series of engaging family events throughout the year with a focus on school holidays. We were delighted to bring back our highly popular events in the library including Singing Santa and Crafternoons.
As part of the Library of Kindness we held a Storywalk around Wellpark in Greenock to celebrate Empathy Day in June. The successful event included a Storytime, songs and rhymes and a treasure hunt.
Thanks to “Summer of Fun ‘21” funding, lots of events were available to families ranging from Animal Man’s Mini Zoo visiting Kilmacolm, to Macastory Storytelling Performance at Port Glasgow Library and a Silent Disco at Greenock Central Library.
“We were well looked after, felt safe and had so much fun. Enjoyed SOF21. Thank you. “Silent Disco Attendee
“Library events have been great so all kids can attend no matter circumstances.” Animal Man Attendee
The Summer Reading Challenge theme was ‘Wild World Heroes’ tying in perfectly with Inverclyde’s role as Climate Beacon. All children were encouraged to sign up to the challenge with incentives given along the way. Weekly family newsletters were emailed to all Summer Reading Challenge participant contacts during the summer holidays to provide inspiration and information regarding library activities. A Wild World Heroes photo competition was open all summer with young people invited to take part to submit pictures enjoying books in the wild world.
322 children in Inverclyde took part in the Summer Reading Challenge with 193 completing the challenge. 39 children joined the library in order to take part. Although the number taking part was still well below pre-Covid levels, the completion rate was high at 60%.
Working with the Children’s Rights Officer, we held our first party night for the Proud2Care Group. It was well attended and the young people enjoyed pizza, virtual reality and Nintendo Switches. The group gave us their feedback on what groups or activities they would like in the library. Suggestions included a study group for young adults, gaming nights, and manga club. We are delighted to now offer access to thousands of comics, graphics novels and manga titles via the Comics Plus service and also now offer a Study Group and Table Top Gaming Group for Young Adults as a direct result of receiving this feedback. Many of the group had never visited the library and we were delighted that some joined the library on the night.
The programme to support the Galoshans Festival included a Creative Recycling challenge with the provision of creepy craft bags. 110 bags were collected with children encouraged to repurpose old library posters and materials to create something new. Use of the Virtual Reality set to explore our environment was also available along with both face to face and online not-too-spooky Bookbug Sessions.
Our regular programme of free afternoon Craft sessions returned to face to face sessions when restrictions allowed and where this wasn’t possible craft packs were made available as part of the Connect and Collect service.
"Great to have something to do during October Holidays”
"Amazing to be back in the library"
"Really missed library when it was closed"
Singing Santa returned to the library to provide a fun filled experience for little ones to meet Santa. 38 children along with 30 adults attended these sessions where Santa kept everyone entertained and gifted all the children with a picture book.
After-school World Book Day sessions which included a Storytime and activities were held in 4 libraries and staff joined in the fun dressing up as characters from favourite books.
Funding was granted by SLIC via the Public Library Improvement Fund for the Inverclyde Libraries’ Play Together project. The overarching aim of the project is to reach the heart of communities and engage new audiences with scope to bring a new resource to the whole family. The ethos of the project is to do things differently and more sustainably, putting libraries at the heart of our community. The project brings toys, play, and outdoor learning opportunities to families who may not otherwise have access to them, ensuring that we are embedding the sustainable agenda and our role as Climate Beacon into our programming. A free to use play library will provide access to toys, games, gardening equipment and outdoor learning to educate and enjoy. The project demonstrates our commitment as a service to the UNCRC and our pursuit of being awarded with the Inverclyde Rights of the Child Award.
Inverclyde’s status as a Climate Beacon was reflected in various aspects of programming for young people and families. A special climate related workshop was created within the schools Libraries Inspire! programme with input from Inverclyde Council’s Carbon Reduction Officer. Primary 4 pupils were invited to create climate friendly library designs. All designs are now available as an eBook to all Inverclyde Library members using the BorrowBox service.
In addition, a new Kind Climate book collection was made available to all schools to borrow. A Climate Heroes competition was run from November to March with children invited to draw or create a Climate superhero. The winning entries, judged by local author Paul Bristow, have now been compiled into an eBook available to library members. A successful funding bid to Museums and Galleries Scotland allowed for a programme of Climate Conversations with Inverclyde Libraries. For children, author Lindsay Littleson visited Greenock Central Library to talk about her book ‘Secrets of the Last Merfolk’ and the climate themes the book explores. For young adults, eco-poet Samuel Tongue provided an online workshop where pupils were given inspiration to create their own poems inspired by local climate issues.
Given the huge number of initiatives described above, it is perhaps not surprising that in 2021-22, Inverclyde Libraries were Highly Commended in the inaugural SLIC Library Service of the Year Awards. Judges were very impressed by the high standard of service delivery, creativity and innovation in which our libraries are involved. The Award is a wonderful reinforcement that our service – one of the smallest in Scotland - has been recognised as being award-worthy and punching above its weight.
Children & Young People Events – Participants
Museum visits – online
*Events moved from online to restricted number in-person
Along with our colleagues in Libraries, the Watt Institution was delighted to be able to operate more normally in 2021-22 following re-opening at the end of April.
In partnership with the Music Service we ran a very successful and well attended programme of visual and performing arts events for Summer of Fun ‘21.
The Watt now runs a successful Bookbug session on a Saturday morning with high numbers attending each week. This runs alongside our regular monthly Fair Trade Fair which continues to be a success. Our continually evolving ‘Watty Bear’ activities for children and young families continues to draw large and repeat numbers of participants with over two hundred taking part in our Easter Bear Hunt alone.
Resource guides promoting what the service has to offer have been produced and distributed for schools, care homes and dementia groups. We have begun a partnership with Alzheimer’s Scotland where we act as a safe space for creativity for those diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and their carers.
We supported Inverclyde Heritage Network in running Inverclyde’s first Heritage Day as part of Local & Community History Month, The event gave groups and individuals working and volunteering in heritage the chance to get together and promote their work to the public. The day saw some three hundred and thirty people attend the event at the Watt. It is planned that this will be an annual event going forward.
A large part of 2021-22 at the Watt was dedicated to working towards the submission for the continuation of our Accredited Museum Status – the UK wide professional standard for museums. This provides assurance to the Council, our funders, and our users, that the museum is doing the right things to help people to engage with the collections and to protect them for the future.
Extensive work has been undertaken behind the scenes on our collections management programmes in preparation for our accreditation submission, to improve access to collections and the information they contain, increase and improve our stores, and to support the delivery of our National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) Watt Voices project. This work will be ongoing for several years to come.
As part of our NLHF Watt Voices project, we completed the development of a Creativity Space on the ground floor of the building. This room and its resources will act as a focal point for creativity for families, groups and individuals as part of programmes developed in-house and through its use by community groups. In support of the wider Watt Voices project, work is ongoing in researching new artefacts to go on display and making changes to our visitor offer to make better use of the spaces we have to increase the collections on display and interpretative engagement opportunities.
We successfully bid for Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) funding for our Our Watt project which saw us employ a Digital Learning & Engagement Officer to work with communities to develop our offer and shape and improve our digital capacity going forward. Projects have included:
- The Butterflies and Minibeasts of Inverclyde project funded by the Royal Society Places of Science Fund delivered in partnership with the Inverclyde Ranger Service at Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park focussing on the promotion and digitization of the Natural History collection and in support of STEM learning.
- A monthly digital reminiscence newsletter, Inverclyde in the News 40 Years Ago, in partnership with the Greenock Telegraph using the Telegraph archives held at the Watt Library.
- Regular Family History for Beginners presentation delivered digitally.
- Local history reminiscence sessions delivered both digitally and in person to partners including; Glenfield and Bagatelle care homes, Inverclyde Association for Mental Health, Crown Day Care, the WISHES (Women’s initiative for socialisation, health, education and skills) group and the Best Friends group with YourVoice.
- Cine Poetry workshops inspired by museum collections in partnership with the Inverclyde Writer in Residence and West College Scotland media students.
- Digital creative writing prompts based on the museum collections for the Writer’s Well creative writing group.
- Who Do You Think You Are? project in partnership with the family learning worker at All Saints Primary and Inverclyde CLD based around genealogy and research skills.
With the support of the National Museums Scotland, we are part of a network of museums across the UK looking at the issues around increasing access to and knowledge of Natural Sciences Collections through digital platforms. We also obtained funding from the British Museum Trust for work on making our Natural Sciences Collections more accessible.
The Archive Service continues to run a successful volunteer programme in support of making the information held within our archives accessible to the public. The work on documenting the Watt Library’s historic book collection has been completed. 5,704 works have been catalogued to increase public awareness and accessibility to the collection.
The service has been involved in Inverclyde’s Historic Links to Slavery project, in particular working on the collation of submissions of sites, events and individuals connected with the Transnational Slave Trade as part of a heritage audit. This work will also form the basis for the development of an inclusive curriculum for the area.
The Inverclyde schools’ Instrumental Music Service and Inverclyde’s Youth Music Initiative are run by staff within Cultural Services who work peripatetically across our schools’ estate providing musical tuition at early years, primary and secondary level. The Music Service is a real strength in Inverclyde with many successes on both the local and national stage. As we emerge from the pandemic, music services have successfully started the rebuilding process. All musical disciplines are back playing live in schools and face to face tuition has returned.
Due to the rise of the Omicron variant around Christmas 2021, the Christmas concert had to be recorded rather than playing to a live audience. Although disappointing for your young performers (and staff), the video recording shared via YouTube was a great success with over 2,300 views.
Our Junior and Senior Choirs were invited to perform at The Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow supporting the annual Phoenix Choir Christmas event.
At last our Spring Concert enabled the band, choirs and orchestra to perform to a full house at Greenock Town Hall. Following the welcome address the band played a piece called “a prayer for Ukraine” – showing support for Ukrainians and a charity collection raised funds to support local Ukraine Support Programmes. This, alongside another fundraiser by our Choirs raised over £1,200 for the cause.
A new national competition was launched, Scottish Young Musicians – Solo Performer of the Year. Inverclyde had 21 entries displaying their talent and musicianship participate in the local heat adjudicated externally. Our winner was a vocalist from St. Columba’s High School in Gourock. Avril went on to represent Inverclyde at the National Final competing against 21 other local authority musicians.
Our Youth Music Initiative (YMI) project, directly funded by Scottish Government and administered by Creative Scotland, has been a great success with our music practitioner delivering a minimum of 12 hrs tuition in every primary school. We have introduced bucket drumming this year, using this approach to engage primary children and encourage an interest in music whilst developing essential skills, this has proved to be very popular and feedback from schools has been fantastic. For the first time 2 primary schools (St. Ninian’s and St.John’s) performed bucket drumming at the Spring Concert. In addition to this core YMI delivery the funding has also enabled us to successfully deliver programmes across our ASN cohort with bespoke music interventions at Lomond View, Craigmarloch and Garvel schools. Our Streetband project that would normally have been part of the Galoshans festival was delivered wholly online and resulted in live performances in school and at the Beacon Arts Centre.
Staff are working hard to rebuild the music service to pre-pandemic levels. This is well underway and engagement is on the rise each month, but it may take some time to fully recover.