The Theatres Trust

Warning of chaos for Scottish arts amid confusion about funding

13th September 2010

The arts in Scotland are in danger of sliding into “inexcusable chaos” because of confusion over the role and responsibilities of the new national funding body Creative Scotland, it has been claimed. In a stinging attack, Kenneth Roy, founder and editor of the Scottish Review, said the current lack of detail concerning Creative Scotland could potentially be disastrous for the arts.

Creative Scotland (CS), a merger of the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen that cost more than £3 million, was officially launched in July, with a £35,000 new logo and £60m in funds.

It expressed intentions to work with STV and the BBC on broadcasting issues, but so far little detail has emerged on how exactly CS will fund arts companies and artists in the future.

Andrew Dixon, its chief executive, has suggested it will review its core funding for 52 “foundation” arts and drama companies, theatres and festivals.

Mr Roy particularly takes issue with Mr Dixon’s view, expressed in an e-mail conversation with an artist, “that we will not be a funding body in the old sense of the Arts Council but a strategic body.”

Mr Roy says this conflicts with another statement, on the CS website, which says Creative Scotland “inherits the funding commitments and investment strands of the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen”.

Mr Roy writes in the latest issue of Scottish Review: “I am still no clearer what the chief executive of Creative Scotland is trying to say about his own organisation.”

He adds: “The abject performance of Creative Scotland would be hilarious were it not so potentially disastrous for the arts in Scotland and for the thousands of creative people – some of the best people in this country – whose livelihoods depend on public funding of their work.

“It seems that the present Holyrood administration, intelligent and honourable in so many other ways, is content to surrender the arts, a central part of our national life, to inexcusable chaos.”

Also perturbed is Robin Harper, the Scottish Green Party MSP. He has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament expressing concerns over the body and the “remarkable uncertainty over that organisation’s function.”

The motion adds: “This uncertainty has not been allayed by the reported statement made by Creative Scotland’s chief executive, Andrew Dixon, that the organisation is not a funding body in the sense of the former Scottish Arts Council.”

It goes on: “[We] urge the Scottish Government to meet representatives of Creative Scotland as soon as possible and demand sight of its strategic plan and mission statement within a reasonable timescale and for Creative Scotland to undertake minimum expenditure on offices, staff and equipment until such time as its function can be fully defined.”

Mr Roy concludes by calling on Fiona Hyslop, the culture minister, to “clarify its purpose and policies, assuming they have any. ”

A spokeswoman for CS said Mr Dixon had written to Mr Roy to discuss the issues.

Creative Scotland insiders said it remained a young organisation, with its first full board meeting only three weeks ago and its senior management team in place for a month.

There are also questions surrounding the move of the Creative Scotland headquarters from the current home of the Scottish Arts Council in Manor Place, to a refurbished office in the Waverleygate centre.

The costs of the move, and the refit of the offices by JM Architects, have not yet been announced. The rent for the site is on a 15-year lease, which includes an initial rent-free period, it is understood.

A spokeswoman maintained the costs were not at the expense of investment in the arts, screen and creative industries. The move to the new offices is scheduled for the turn of the year.

Source; The Scottish Herald

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