Campaigners warn access to Scottish culture 'gravely at risk' due to funding crisis

The Scotsman

17 Apr 2024

by Brian Ferguson

The Campaign for the Arts group claimed “jeopardy has become all too commonplace in the Scottish culture sector” due to increasing funding pressures on festivals, events, venues and organisations.

Campaign for the Arts director Jack Gamble said: “The Scottish Government’s new international strategy describes Scotland’s festivals as ‘world-leading’ and a key cultural asset. Yet the chief executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society has this week warned that funding pressures are making the festival ‘almost impossible’ to deliver.

“It is a disaster not only for the Scottish Government’s international culture strategy, but for the people of Scotland that something as internationally significant as the Fringe is facing this level of jeopardy due to inadequate funding.

“For all its welcome aspiration, the cultural strategy suggests a dispiriting disconnection from the reality in Scotland right now. Access to the arts is gravely at risk due to years of under-investment in Scottish cultural organisations.

“Despite the Scottish Government’s pledge last year to ‘more than double’ investment in culture, our analysis shows this year’s culture budget is actually 6 per cent smaller in real terms than it was in 2022/23. Organisations can’t run on warm words – they need cold cash, or they will cease to exist.”

Mr Gamble pointed out how the Campaign for the Arts and Scottish arts industry body Culture Counts warned in December the Scottish Government needed to go “further and faster” to prevent parts of the cultural sector from collapse.

He said: “In the last three weeks alone, Glasgow’s book festival, Aye Write has been cancelled, and Short Circuit and MAP Magazine have announced permanent closure. How many more organisations will be forced to shut down, how many more opportunities shut off, before the Scottish Government grasps this emergency?”