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John Swinney makes Kate Forbes deputy first minister – BBC News



There’s no doubting John Swinney’s passion for the culture which surrounds him on home turf in Highland Perthshire.

He and his family are regulars at Pitlochry Festival Theatre. Over Easter he attended the official opening of the Crannog Centre on Loch Tay and the new Perth Museum. He’s well aware that such moments are long fought and hard won.

But the fragility of the sector is a huge concern.

Creative Scotland has warned that it will be unable to meet existing long-term funding commitments without increased funding. A promise of an extra £100m at the SNP conference last October has yet to be clarified.

Culture, and especially spending on the arts, will never be the first priority of any first minister.

But you can tell a lot about a person, about a leader, by what they say about the arts.

Way back when devolution began 25 years ago, Donald Dewar was an unapologetic lover of high art and serious literature. Nicola Sturgeon regularly spoke about her favourite books.

Mr Swinney quoted Hamish Henderson in his first speech. The line from his anthem “Freedom come a’ ye” was, he said, a call to eradicate poverty.

First ministers are perhaps wary of how much culture costs, especially at times of tight budgets.

So far, it doesn’t sound as though there’s much for the culture sector to mull over.

The first thing to look out for is whether the culture brief is a cabinet seat – and who’s sitting in it.

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