More Pain In Store?

3 Dec 2012

THE NEWS that Newcastle Council have opted to drop their entire budget allocation for the arts sends a warning that the pain of spending cuts is far from over, and may just be beginning.

THE draconian measures chosen by our near neighbours across the border are unlikely to be repeated in Scotland – or so we fervently hope. However, it is a reminder that all councils face making more large cuts in the short and medium term, and spending on arts and culture will inevitably bear some of the brunt.

IT IS an old and well-rehearsed debate. Hard-pressed bureaucrats argue that the arts are a luxury, and must give precedence to “essential” health and social services (although in reality, that is rarely the actual choice facing them).

Clare Blois' Bright Fields, Late Summer from the final show at Tore Gallery.

Clare Blois's Bright Fields, Late Summer from the final show at Tore Gallery.

The counter-argument from the arts community (and anyone who cares about them) is precisely the opposite – art and culture is far from a luxury, but is indeed just as much an essential, and an inestimable contributor to our personal and communal development and well-being.

At a time like this, when unprecedented pressure is being brought to bear on public spending, it is more important than ever to keep pushing the latter argument. Despite the current difficulties with Creative Scotland (currently undertaking two major internal reviews of their operations, while just announcing the resignation of Andrew Dixon), the Scottish Government has so far shown itself more willing than Westminster to maintain good levels of public investment, rather than turn to private patronage. Long may that remain the case.

As the year end comes into focus, and the various pantos and seasonal shows start to gear up for their extended runs, things go a little quiet on the general performance front, but there are still quite a few attractive events to squeeze in between now and Christmas, featuring the likes of the Scottish Ensemble at Eden Court, Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells at Mareel, the Cromarty Film Festival, Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas at Findhorn, and the start of Moray-based Wildbird’s tour of Dreich House, as well as a number of exhibitions, including the final show at Tore Gallery.

Finally, seasons greetings to all of our contributors and readers from all at Northings.

Kenny Mathieson


© Kenny Mathieson, 2012