Financial support is currently being offered to community groups or companies who would like to make more use of Gaelic language.

The support schemes are very flexible, allowing assistance to be given to a wide range of projects; from bilingual signage for businesses, to a variety of community initiatives.

The support is available from Comunn na Gàidhlig (CnaG), and they’re looking for applications right now.

CnaG Chairman, Kenneth MacIver said: “We have a Gaelic development contract with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and it’s under this contract that we’re able to offer this support. It’s available under three schemes: bilingual signage and marketing; community regeneration; and an innovation scheme, intended to support the development of new Gaelic or Gaelic-based products to the market.

“We’ve been involved in these schemes for a few years now, and we know they’re successful and useful - both to Gaelic development itself, and to the groups who have received support.

“At this stage we have some £60,000 available, and we’d be delighted to hear from anyone who has a suitable project or idea.”

The funding for these schemes ends in summer 2013, but CnaG are looking for applications as soon as possible. The support levels vary from up to 60% for signage and marketing and community regeneration projects, to up to 90% for innovation projects, and with different funding ceilings under each scheme. Full details can be found on CnaG’s new website, www.cnag.org, or by contacting their offices in Inverness or Stornoway.

Rachael McCormack, Director of Strengthening Communities, said: "HIE recognises, and is seeking to quantify through new research, the potential of Gaelic as a significant asset for the economic and social development of the Highlands and Islands.

“These initiatives being offered by CnaG provide an excellent opportunity to increase the contribution of Gaelic, particularly in the region's fragile communities. By creating targets in key growth areas such as tourism and the creative industries the work will also help us assess the impacts projects have in enhancing the resilience of our communities."

Minister for Lifelong Learning, Skills and Gaelic, Alasdair Allan MSP said: “"This is a welcome step which will enable more groups to use Gaelic and help contribute to a sustainable future for the language."

Among the projects supported recently have been an initiative aimed at helping the community of South Uist generate income from local Gaelic skills; and allowing a Lewis historical society to crystallise and develop their plans for a new interpretation centre:

  • Stòras Uibhist, community landowners of South Uist, was supported to organise a residential "Gaelic Learning Week", aimed at intermediate to more fluent Gaelic learners, in South Uist and its surrounding communities. Based at Grogarry Lodge the programme included interactive tuition in the mornings, followed by a wide range of language-linked cultural activities in the afternoons, such as fishing, coastal walks, a croft visit and golf lesson. 11 learners from across Scotland attended the week. It provided them with an exceptional opportunity to improve their fluency levels within a vibrant Gaelic speaking community, and provided valuable income and employment opportunities for the Trust.
  • Comunn Eachdraidh Nis, a historical society in Lewis was assisted to carry out research on the history of Cross School, which closed in June 2011. A condition of the award was that the future use of the school buildings be explored. Based on the findings of the report, Comunn Eachdraidh Nis has secured further investment to purchase the buildings and establish 2 new jobs.
  • Funding under the Bilingual Signage and Marketing scheme was awarded to Studio Eadar Lochan, a new arts gallery in South Harris, to create marketing flyers and signage for the gallery.
  • Rembrandt Timber Limited in Inverness were given language support (though no financial assistance was claimed) to use Gaelic within the signage at their Inverness depot, and to introduce striking new bilingual vehicle livery.
  • Ceitags ( a café in Glendale, Skye ) was assisted to use bilingual signage, and to provide basic Gaelic lessons for staff so that they could use the language with customers, both visitors and local residents.