Council’s music man out to conduct kids’ theatre trips

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Orchestra conductor and new city culture leader Richard Lewis has pledged to roll out theatre visits for schoolchildren across Edinburgh to develop audiences of the future.

The respected musician aims to follow European models of exposing children to culture at an early age and open up arts venues to pupils.

The Nationalist, elected a councillor last week, is among a number of elected members nominated for key leadership roles for the next five-year administration. Others include a former bit part actor and an ex-Ministry of Defence analyst.

Cllr Lewis, 40, and the other leaders will be formally confirmed in their new roles later this month. He told the Evening News: “Growing up in Edinburgh and going to James Gillespie’s we would read Arthur Miller and then be taken to the Lyceum to see the production and it brought the experience to life.

“Today there are far more barriers and paperwork for schools to get through and we’ve moved away from immersing our young people in an area that is so important to their development. Attendance at theatres has declined over the past ten years so if we can give pupils this experience early we will be preparing them to be the audience of the future.”

Cllr Lewis’ predecessor and SNP colleague Deidre Brock is set to become Deputy Lord Provost. A former actress who appeared on Home and Away, she will represent the city at civic events and stand in for Donald Wilson at meetings of the monthly full council.

Former MoD analyst Alasdair Rankin, who won the city centre by-election last August, is nominated to become finance leader, which will involve balancing the books and managing the city’s £1.4 billion debt.

Fluent in Russian, he worked in Whitehall specialising in the defence capabilities of Soviet states before serving as a senior Scottish Parliament official.

One council colleague said: “Alasdair is very modest and always plays his MoD role down, but as we understand it, it was all intercepting Soviet messages and working with GCHQ. Obviously it was years ago but I don’t think he’s allowed to say much about it.”

The SNP have also nominated former firefighter Gavin Barrie to be convenor of the regulatory committee, which handles taxi rates and licences, and put forward former insurance broker Mike Bridgeman as convenor of the fire brigade board for a second term.

Labour will meet to finalise their team tomorrow but Cllr Maureen Child is in line to become housing and social care leader, and Cammy Day licensing leader. Former Lord Provost Lesley Hinds is expected to become transport leader, charged with delivering the tram project, while Paul Godzik is set to oversee the city’s schools as education leader.

Nominees will be formally appointed to their posts later this month.