The Campaign For the Arts has launched a new campaign calling on the Scottish Government to abandon major cuts to Creative Scotland, and to work with Scotland’s cultural sector to find a sustainable future, ahead of the final vote on the Scottish Budget at Holyrood on Tuesday, 21 February.
The Scottish Government’s 2023-4 Budget contains a £7 million cut to Creative Scotland at a critical moment for Scotland’s arts and culture sector. Iain Munro, chief executive of Creative Scotland, has warned that “the risks to the cultural sector as we currently know and understand it have gone up enormously”, and that “we are now about to go beyond the tipping point”.
If the cuts endure, Creative Scotland projects that “no more than 60” of the current 120 regularly-funded organisations (RFOs) would retain their funding. Creative Scotland’s RFOs directly employ 5,000 workers, support 25,500 individual artists and provide millions of opportunities for people across Scotland to engage with the arts and culture.
Up to a third of Creative Scotland’s RFOs are already at risk, due to their standstill funding amounting to a 20-30% real-terms cut in the current inflationary environment. The aftershocks of Brexit, the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis mean that incomes have fallen, reserves have been exhausted and costs are continuing to soar. Two RFOs – the Centre for the Moving Image and the Nevis Ensemble – have already closed down permanently.
Members of the public are encouraged to sign and share the Campaign for the Arts petition, and to contact MSPs to tell them what is at stake for communities across Scotland if cuts to Creative Scotland go ahead.
Despite 2021 SNP manifesto commitments stating that “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 as well as to our economy and society”, Creative Scotland’s funding settlement has placed the cultural sector under unprecedented strain.
These proposals put Scotland out of kilter with the rest of the UK. Whereas the Welsh Government recently acknowledged cost pressures in the cultural sector with an extra £0.5m grant to Arts Council Wales, and Arts Council England expanded cultural investment with an 18% increase in the number of regularly-funded organisations, Creative Scotland would be forced to reject applications from up to 300 interested organisations and to cut their existing RFO portfolio in half.
Jack Gamble, Director of the Campaign for the Arts, said:
“We’re entering a period of change at Holyrood, and it should extend to a rethink about the Budget on Tuesday. The Scottish Government’s plan to cut Creative Scotland is a short-sighted move that will cause long-lasting and potentially irreversible damage. Especially in this economic climate, the implications are devastating for cultural organisations and the communities they serve. Everyone in Scotland should be able to access the arts, and if ministers agree, they need to take decisive action now.”
Joseph Peach, Advocacy Manager of Culture Counts, said:
“Recent years’ events have put Scotland’s culture sector in an increasingly vulnerable position. Brexit, the pandemic and recovery from it, skyrocketing costs and an ongoing cost of living crisis, underpinned by long-term underinvestment, mean that organisations and individuals working in the culture sector are experiencing a perfect storm of challenges.
In recent months and weeks, Culture Counts, the culture sector and Creative Scotland have repeatedly sounded the alarm – making the case that the planned 10% cut to Creative Scotland’s budget will exacerbate these challenges enormously.
In the context of the overall Scottish Budget, arts and culture takes a tiny proportion of total Government investment, for which it delivers an enormous economic, social and cultural return. The close engagement between Government and the culture sector to date has suggested there was a shared understanding of this.
Yet we find ourselves in a position where, instead of protecting Scotland’s culture sector, and enabling our passionate, inventive, creative and highly skilled workforce to unlock the transformative potential of culture across Scottish society, short term, the survival of many organisations and culture workers is at high risk – and the Scottish Government’s plan to enact this funding approach risks their long-term future.”
Rachel Maclean, Scottish Multi-Media Artist, said:
“Culture defines who we are, it reflects on our past and looks to our future. It’s grossly short-sighted for this government to cut off funding to institutions and individuals who are so essential in shaping a vision of Scotland’s future. This funding cut won’t just mean a few less exhibitions, plays or books, it will result in the careers of Scotland’s future talent being cut off before they were even able to get started. This decision will impact the prospects of an entire generation of artists, the negative effects of which will be felt for years to come.”