A Muted Response to Bad News?

1 Jun 2012

WHAT will Creative Scotland’s latest funding changes mean for the arts in Scotland?

PERHAPS we are all just a bit ground down by the relentless bad economic news of recent years, but I would have expected rather more of an outcry from the 49 companies moved to project funding (“investment based on proposals”) in last month’s announcement from Creative Scotland.

Creative Scotland presented the changes as part of their ongoing responsibility to review their funding models for the overall good of the cultural sector as a whole, and as a response to change to their own funding structure (you can read their announcement and the list of companies here).

RockNess in sunshine (Fergus Feggans)

RockNess in sunshine (Fergus Feggans)

FOR the companies and organisations involved, though, which included several based in the Highlands & Islands and North East, it introduces a level of uncertainty that may have profound consequences for their work, and in particular for their ability to plan ahead and commit both to programmes of domestic work and to international collaborations, which often require considerable forward planning and financial commitment.

At a time when things are already very tough – and in many cases pretty marginal – for those working in the arts, such uncertainty, which inevitably goes hand-in-hand with an increased necessity to devote time and resources to funding applications and administration rather than creative work, is precisely what they didn’t need.

It remains to be seen how all of this works out in individual cases. Some companies and organisations may notice little practical difference in eventual outcomes if their applications to the common funding pot – for which all will now compete, including all of those already on project funding – are successful, while others may struggle. It may even prove to be a judicious use of the available funding on Creative Scotland’s part, but currently it does not seem the way to build up a solid, thriving infrastructure for creative work in Scotland.

I hope to be proved wrong. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, festival season is now in full swing. June’s roster includes Northern Roots, RockNess, The Insider and the St Magnus Festival, while Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s summer season gets fully underway. Let’s hope the outdoor events get a share of the late-May weather we have been enjoying, but this is Scotland …

Kenny Mathieson


© Kenny Mathieson