The Scottish Culture Secretary Angus Robertson has written a column for the Herald on Sunday, defending the Scottish Government’s decision to reimpose a £6.6m cut to Creative Scotland.
It is his first public statement on the issue since the cut was revealed by Creative Scotland on Thursday.
Replying on behalf of the Campaign for the Arts, director Jack Gamble said:
“Angus Robertson celebrates the ‘resilience and ingenuity’ of Scotland’s creative industries. They will certainly need both qualities to overcome this latest lurching U-turn from the Scottish Government.
Last year, ministers gave Creative Scotland 10% less funding than five years previously, in real terms. When they tried to impose a further 10% cut this year, despite the huge pressures on artists and cultural organisations arising from the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis, thousands joined our campaign to express their outrage.
It beggars belief that only seven months after the Scottish Government abandoned the £6.6m cut, saying they had listened and parading a £6.6m ‘uplift’ to support the sector, they are rowing back on their promise and slashing the budget anyway.
The SNP’s 2021 manifesto said “culture is central to who we are as a nation”, and that “the pandemic has demonstrated more than ever how vital it is to our wellbeing, mental health and sense of belonging”. How, at a time when the cultural sector has so much to give, can it be treated in such a reckless and haphazard way by ministers whose job is to support it? How can commitments to restore funding in future years be taken on trust after sudden U-turns like this and years of underinvestment?
Creative Scotland rightly maintains reserves for an emergency, but none of us expects that emergency to be created by the Scottish Government. Before this week their reserves were only large enough to support regularly-funded organisations for about six months. Now they are considerably smaller, and should another emergency arise, the cliff-edge will be considerably closer.
Everybody signing our new petition is clear: the Scottish Government should keep their promise and deliver the £6.6m they pledged to Creative Scotland this year. Then, once they have restored investment to last year’s level, they should acknowledge how much more is required – not just in funding terms, but also in conduct – to properly support the cultural sector and unlock its potential, economically and socially, for the benefit of everybody in Scotland.”
The Campaign for the Arts’ reply is also reported in today’s Herald on Sunday.