SNP MSP Joan McAlpine today (Wednesday) led a debate in the Scottish Parliament celebrating the economic impact of Rabbie Burns’ legacy for Scotland.
Ms McAlpine suggested it was time to update a 2003 study by World Bank economists that calculated the Bard boosted the economy by £157m per year.
The study was based on Burns related tourism and merchandising, as well as the bonanza of the supper season, with spending on everything from hospitality, whisky and haggis sales, kilt hire and even paying the piper.
The research was done before the watershed Homecoming Year of 2009, Burns 250th anniversary, which reached out to Scotland’s diaspora as never before, as well as the opening of Burns’ Birthplace museum and the launch of the Winter Festival Programme.
Commenting, Ms McAlpine said:
“I think we Scots are, in general, more confident about celebrating our cultural heritage today than we have been in the past, and I am really proud of the role that the SNP Scottish Government has played in promoting our precious cultural assets like the life and poetry of Rabbie Burns.
“Burns the brand helps promote Scotland’s exports and trade links through Burns suppers around the globe, including through more than 250 member clubs of the Robert Burns World Federation.
“And year-round Burns-related tourism is on the increase thanks to Burns Scotland partner destinations such as the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, Ellisland Farm near Auldgirth, the Monument Centre in Kilmarnock and Burns House Museum in Mauchline, as well as numerous other places in Scotland associated with the poet.
“Not to mention fantastic initiatives like the Big Burns Supper in Dumfries, which has become a staple feature of the Winter Festivals Programme.
“The Centre for Robert Burns Studies has, in and of itself, been an income generator and job creator – with students from all over the world are coming to the centre to study Burns and others writers of his period. The Centre secured an Arts and Humanities Research Council or AHRC grant worth £1.1 million towards the project editing Robert Burns for the 21st Century. Over 15 years it will produce a new multi volume edition of his entire work published by Oxford University Press and with an accompanying website and social media engagement.
“Of course, we cannot put a price on the cultural value of Burns. Burns cemented our national identify and self-confidence. But we can be sure that the Bard’s legacy wields soft power, spreading Scotland’s influence far and wide, and is a huge part of our contribution to the world.
“The bard has enriched our culture but it is by investing in his cultural legacy that we shall also enrich ourselves and the prosperity of the people Burns loved so much.”
The full text of the debate will be available here.