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Caithness.org News Bulletins -  November 2002

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The Highland Council and Highlands and Islands Enterprise are gearing up to work with the Scottish Executive to organise a Scottish Year of Highland Culture in 2006.  The agencies have been given the go ahead by First Minister Jack McConnell to form a taskforce to progress plans for celebrating a renaissance of Highland culture.

The development was revealed by Councillor David Green, Convener of The Highland Council, last night at a reception to thank all those involved in the Inverness Highland bid for the European Capital of Culture in 2008.  The bid was not short-listed but those involved are determined to take forward many of the plans.

Councillor Green said: "The show goes on and hopefully two years ahead of schedule.  I am delighted we have the support of the First Minister to proceed with plans for a Scottish Year of Highland Culture. This will concentrate on presenting an exciting and quality programme of events during the year and taking some of the major works throughout Scotland. We want to promote our cultural pledge to the 34,000 pupils in Highland by offering them free access to a wide range of cultural and sporting activities. We also intend to develop our partnerships with the key Scottish agencies, who showed such support for our bid."

He said that 2006 was being set as a target to coincide with the opening of a 6.5 million extension to Eden Court Theatre, Inverness.  Bid patron, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, the world famous musical producer, is also aiming to premier a new musical at the opening of the theatre extension.  Highlands and Islands Enterprise chairman, Dr Jim Hunter, who is also a board  member of the Inverness Highland 2008, said: "What has been most inspiring about these past few months has been the many ways in which different people  and different organisations involved in the arts, heritage, environment, sport and culture all came together for a common cause.

The energy, creativity and enthusiasm which went into the campaign should not be allowed to evaporate. We have built up a head of steam for Highland culture, a momentum which can be harnessed to create our own unique celebration and help a vital part of Scotland's heritage to flourish. That's why I am delighted to endorse the idea of a Scottish Year of Highland Culture in 2006 and to offer my full support."