Tonight, I will have the pleasure of attending the FilmG Awards 2024 in Glasgow with Joanna Peteranna, area manager of the Outer Hebrides area team and a range of talented people from Gaelic media.

The annual Gaelic film competition focuses on schools and young filmmakers and has helped uncover and develop new talent for the Gaelic media sector. This year, HIE is sponsoring the Best Production Design category.

FilmG is a shining exemplar of the invaluable impact of investing in Gaelic developments. The employment opportunities generated by initiatives like this help retain local talent in the region and attract new ones.

The awards are held during Seachdain na Gàidhlig (World Gaelic Week). The whole week is a celebration by people across the world to promote, use and learn Gaelic through a co-ordinated network of activities and we’re pleased to be taking part in various activities within HIE.

It’s great to apply the knowledge I gained from my time spent on a distance learning course at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig for Gaelic beginners. Given the strategic importance of Gaelic, I’ve also recently taken a lead on Gaelic for the organisation, supported by our Outer Hebrides (Innse Gall) area team. It’s an integral part of our culture and at HIE, we are committed to enhancing its status and creating opportunities for its use. We want to embrace its importance as well as support Gaelic speakers of all abilities to use the language when communicating with us.

The commitment to preserving Gaelic culture and language is not only about heritage but also about fostering resilient communities and sustainable economic growth. This is why we were pleased to publish our fourth Gaelic Plan last November, which demonstrates our dedication to Gaelic.

This plan emphasises harnessing the opportunities arising from Gaelic’s potential contribution in helping to drive economic growth in the region and we’re working with our partners to achieve more in the coming years.

HIE has long recognised the opportunities that Gaelic presents as an important part of cultural, economic and social life in the Highlands and Islands.

Over recent years, HIE has supported many key projects that are important for Gaelic and for the region. This includes providing substantial funding for organisations that lead the development and delivery of programmes that promote and celebrate Gaelic.

Organisations such as Comunn na Gàidhlig and An Comunn Gàidhealach are vital for the development of Gaelic and between them have generated huge economic benefits for Scotland.

Also, Fèisean nan Gàidheal, which supports the development of community-based Gaelic arts tuition, plays an important part in supporting Gaelic language skills of young people especially in fragile areas across Scotland.

Additionally, Gaelic media helps to support local creative businesses through the programmes it commissions while creating and supporting many jobs in the Outer Hebrides. It provides opportunities to enjoy Gaelic media content, benefiting Gaelic speakers and learners in all parts of Scotland and across the world.

In Inverness, I’m looking forward to seeing plans being developed by Cultarlann, which recently took over the historic East Church on Academy Street in the city. The church has long been associated with Gaelic since it was constructed in 1798. The centre is expected to be used as a gathering place to showcase, celebrate and strengthen Gaelic and its culture, which is great news for Gaelic speakers and those who are learning the language as well as for visitors to the city.

At the same time, we’re making sure that Gaelic is respected and practised within HIE. By providing our services, information and opportunities in Gaelic, we serve Gaelic-speakers in their own language. Last year, we recruited a graduate Gaelic Development Manager and we’ll be delivering Gaelic Awareness sessions to our staff and board in the next few weeks.

We’re also working with the UHI Language Sciences Institute to fund a PhD research project exploring the benefits of Gaelic in social and economic development within Gaelic speaking communities. The research will explore a range of factors affecting Gaelic language use at family and community level, including the impact of public policy. Insights from this research will help shape future policy interventions for Gaelic not only in the Highlands and Islands but across Scotland. 

Along with HIE’s Innse Gall area manager, Joanna Peteranna, I’d like to wish all the young people shortlisted in their categories, the best, in the FilmG Awards in Glasgow tonight. Well done to everyone else who took part and I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more from these talented young people in the future.

If you missed Joanna Peteranna’s blog earlier on in the week, you can read it here.

Or, to read more about how we support businesses and communities through Gaelic, you can find out more at HIE and Gaelic.

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