The economic and social value of Gaelic as a unique asset for Scotland is the focus of a pioneering study which is published today.
Development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has led a partnership project to research ways in which Gaelic is currently being used to deliver economic and social benefits to businesses, social enterprises and communities, and how its impact can be maximised.
Entitled Ar Stòras Gàidhlig (Our Gaelic Resource), the resulting report demonstrates how the language is currently being used to add value in a wide variety of circumstances and highlights its considerable potential to bring further benefits to businesses, communities and individuals.
HIE collaborated with Bòrd na Gàidhlig, Scottish Natural Heritage, Creative Scotland, The Highland Council, Argyll and Bute Council, and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to commission DC Research to gather information from businesses, communities and social enterprises which currently use Gaelic.
Almost 70% of businesses consulted said that Gaelic is an asset to their activities. More than half of businesses (60%) and 85% of community organisations who responded to the survey stated that Gaelic features as a key element of their work.
The majority of businesses which recognised Gaelic as an asset were located in the Outer Hebrides, the Highlands, Greater Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Argyll and Bute.
Examining data from the respondents, the researchers were able to quantify that the combined impact on turnover which was attributable to their use of Gaelic totalled £5.6m.
From this result, they calculated that the potential economic value of Gaelic as an asset to the wider Scottish economy could be from £81.6m to £148.5m a year.
Director of Strengthening Communities with HIE, Rachael McCormack, said: “When we talk about Gaelic, the emphasis is often on the need for public support to ensure the language can survive and grow. Until now, much less has been said about its important role as a valuable economic and community asset, which has great potential to make a positive and measurable contribution to Scotland.
"Our new study demonstrates that Gaelic not only plays a unique role in Scottish culture, but can be viewed and used as an asset in a range of fields, particularly the sectors of creative industries; food and drink; education and learning, heritage and tourism.
“These findings lay a baseline for further research and will inform actions which HIE and our partners will take in future to support businesses and communities which can benefit from developing their use of Gaelic, and make a wider contribution to overall economic growth.”
Bòrd na Gàidhlig Ceannard (CEO), John Angus MacKay said: "The findings of this research demonstrate emphatically that the currently modest investment in Gaelic translates into significant economic contribution, not just in the Highlands and Islands but in the Central belt of Scotland as well. Gaelic has international as well as national recognition. We have known for some time through previous studies that, relative to its size, the Gaelic community punches well above its weight in its contribution in a range of sectors, and this reinforces and expands on the previous baseline. Loyalty to language and culture is a powerful motivating force. We are enormously encouraged by the growing support for Gaelic at grassroots and institutional levels, and the economic, as well as social, cultural and linguistic, benefits that accrue from concerted action."
Minister for Gaelic Alasdair Allan said: “Gaelic is part of our identity and culture and is used every day in communities across Scotland. This report highlights for the first time, ways in which businesses and other organisations are capitalising on the language to generate economic value. These are encouraging findings and I hope to see many more organisations benefit in the future by adopting similar approaches and building on this success.”
Several examples of businesses currently using Gaelic as an asset are featured in the full report, including An Lanntair Arts Centre in Stornoway. Gaelic is a strong element of the An Lanntair brand, and the centre features bilingual signage in its building, advertising and other promotional materials, as well as curating exhibitions which celebrate and promote Gaelic culture.
Other businesses which the researchers highlighted as case studies in using Gaelic as an asset include leading Scottish TV production company mneTV, based in Glasgow; Aros Visitor Centre and Arts Centre, Skye; Feisean nan Gàidheal and Blas festivals across the Highlands and Islands, and the Port Charlotte Hotel, Islay.
Many communities who took part in the survey regarded tourism as one of the main areas where there is strong potential to develop and enhance the role of Gaelic as an economic asset.
The three most common benefits of using Gaelic in communities according to the research were increased local pride, greater attachment of people to their communities, and growth in Gaelic-related job opportunities.
HIE has provided funding over many years to a large number of organisations using Gaelic as an asset, including the Scotland-wide cultural agency Fèisean nan Gàidheal, leading Gaelic publisher Acair, the National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture - Sabhal Mòr Ostaig.
Ar Stòras Gàidhlig is available in full and summary forms on the Highlands and Islands Enterprise website at www.hie.co.uk/Gaelicresearch