Stop the cuts to Scotland’s arts and culture

John Swinney & Angus Robertson – stop the cuts to Scotland's arts and culture

Victory! 🎉

The Scottish Government has abandoned plans to cut funding for Creative Scotland, after over 15,000 people signed our urgent petition.

The Scottish Government’s new Budget contains devastating cuts to Scotland’s arts and culture.

On 21 February, Members of the Scottish Parliament will decide whether to finalise a £7 million cut to Creative Scotland, the public body responsible for investing in Scotland’s arts and cultural industries. If it goes ahead, Creative Scotland could be forced to cut the number of regularly-funded organisations by a massive 50%. 1

Up to a third of these organisations are already at risk due to the impacts of the pandemic, cost-of-living crisis and soaring inflation, which has diminished their funding by up to 30% in real terms. Two have closed permanently in recent weeks.

We are at a tipping point. If the Scottish Budget is passed unamended, the arts in Scotland are at risk of significant decline. To protect and extend the benefits they bring, a change of direction is urgently needed.

We urge the Deputy First Minister and Acting Finance Secretary John Swinney and the Culture Secretary Angus Robertson to:
  1. Stop the cut to Creative Scotland in the 2023-4 Scottish Budget, to pull Scotland’s cultural sector back from the brink.
  2. Support Scotland’s artists and cultural organisations now and in the months ahead, to weather the ‘perfect storm’ of economic pressures they face.
  3. Work with the Scottish cultural sector to build a sustainable future, restoring and growing investment so that the arts can flourish in every community.

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”.2

But Scotland’s cultural sector has not fully recovered from the pandemic, during which it was one of the hardest-hit sectors. For many, incomes have fallen and reserves have dried up. Now, in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, costs are rising and uncertainty is rife. This is not the time to cut vital, core funding on which artists and organisations depend.

Economic pressures have already led to the permanent closure of the Filmhouse cinemas in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, the Blue Arrow Jazz Club in Glasgow and the Nevis Ensemble, which worked across the country. We cannot afford to lose any more arts organisations – or the benefits they bring to our lives, communities and society.

Scottish culture is at risk

Creative Scotland's 120 Regularly Funded Organisations (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. The Scottish Government's Budget cut threatens to reduce the size of the portfolio by a massive 50%.

Enter the name of your Local Authority to find an RFO that could be affected near you.

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 will be forced to reject applications from up to 300 interested organisations and to cut their existing RFO portfolio in half.

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  1. Meeting of the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee, January 12 2023[]
  2. SNP Manifesto 2021: Culture and Creativity[]