Minister makes ‘gold-plated’ pledge to restore arts funding

Scottish Culture Secretary Angus Robertson
11 Oct 2023

The Scottish Culture Secretary has assured MSPs that Creative Scotland's budget will be restored next year after re-imposing a £6.6m cut on the organisation.

Scottish government criticised over 'betrayal of culture sector'

The debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament
28 Sep 2023

A cut to the funding Creative Scotland receives from the Scottish government is going ahead, despite the proposals being dropped earlier this year.

Creative Scotland’s Open Fund awards nearly £900k

27 Sep 2023

Creative Scotland has awarded over £897k of National Lottery funding to Scottish cultural organisations and artists as part of the latest round of its Open Fund.

The public body, which distributes money from the Scottish government and the National Lottery, has announced it made 44 awards from its Open Fund in August. One of Creative Scotland’s key funding routes, the Open Fund has no deadlines, with grants going to support organisations, artists, writers, producers and other creative practitioners.

Last month’s recipients include the Celtic band Tannahill Weavers, which received £15,587, and Gaelic Storyteller Kirsty MacDonald, awarded £15,025.

Earlier this month, the approval process for the Open Fund was called into question by the Lammermuir Festival after its funding was cut following 13 years of previous support.

In an open letter signed by 362 composers, education workers, participants, supporters, audience members and local businesses, the festival’s leaders accused Creative Scotland of placing “Scotland’s cultural ecology on a downward trajectory”. 

Despite strong internal support, it claimed that the festival’s 2023 funding application was rejected. “According to the panels judging Open Fund applications at Creative Scotland, Lammermuir Festival does not sufficiently align to your priorities,” the letter said.

“This is despite having the full support of the Music Officers at Creative Scotland, who approved its application and strongly recommended funding without conditions.”

Speaking about August's successful recipients, Paul Burns, Interim Director of Arts at Creative Scotland, said: “Creativity is woven into the fabric of Scotland’s physical and social landscape, whether it’s our agriculture, our heritage or our communities.

"These projects demonstrate the wide variety of activity constantly being supported by National Lottery players through our Open Fund, tied together through the threads of Scottish culture.”

Creative Scotland has ‘no clear artistic priorities’, festival organisers claim

26 Sep 2023

The Lammermuir Festival has released an open letter to Creative Scotland calling on the funding body to change its system.

The letter was penned after the festival’s funding was cut, leaving its future uncertain. It accuses Creative Scotland of placing “Scotland’s cultural ecology on a downward trajectory”.

Organisers announced last week that the funder had withdrawn its support for the festival after 13 years, leaving it in “an urgent financial position”.

The open letter, addressed to Chief Executive of Creative Scotland Iain Munro and Chair Robert Wilson, has been signed by 362 composers, education workers, participants, supporters, audience members and local businesses.

It claimed that the festival’s 2023 funding application was rejected despite strong internal support.

“According to the panels judging Open Fund applications at Creative Scotland, Lammermuir Festival does not sufficiently align to your priorities,” the letter said.

“This is despite having the full support of the Music Officers at Creative Scotland who approved its application and strongly recommended funding without conditions.”

The letter outlined the festival’s cultural, community and economic benefits, which include giving work to 350 musicians a year, securing returns of £750,000 for East Lothian annually, working with 1,700 children, young people and adults over two years as part of the McOpera programme and collaborating with diverse local community groups.

“This decision by Creative Scotland flies in the face of the expressions of support for culture in Scotland, and in particular for festivals, that the First Minister Humza Yousaf, Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy Neil Gray, and Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Angus Robertson have made in recent days,” the letter said.

“The Open Fund process appears to have no strategic overview of provision, and no clear artistic, quality or geographic priorities.”

It added that Creative Scotland’s process “places huge pressure on organisations” and said that invitations to make multiple applications for the same activity took the festival’s “nerves to the wire”, with a final verdict issued just 16 days before the festival began.

“Without Creative Scotland’s support the Lammermuir Festival’s future is under threat,” the letter said.

“Your decision not to fund the 2023 festival destabilises the organisation and undermines the festival’s ability to plan for or run a festival in 2024 and beyond. In order to secure the future of this festival beyond 2023, urgent support is needed.”

It called on the funder to reverse its decision. “This festival cannot be allowed to disappear,” it concluded.

Scottish communities to get creative funding boost 

25 Sep 2023

Communities in Scotland will receive more than £130k as part of a creative funding boost in the latest round of the National Lottery's Awards for All programme, supported by Creative Scotland.  

The scheme will see over £130k distributed to 17 community groups and creative projects across Scotland. Since the programme began in December 2022, it has made 74 awards, amounting to more than £588k.

The projects supported are rooted within local areas and include the Glasgow Herstory Workshops, community arts at Glenuig Hall in the Highlands and youth music opportunities in East Ayrshire, each of which will receive around £10k.

Executive Director of Arts, Communities and Inclusion at Creative Scotland, Dana MacLeod, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players and the brilliant work of these local initiatives, this funding will make a huge difference to people’s lives.

“The quality of Awards for All applications received speaks volumes of the care and ingenuity of people working within communities, and we’re delighted that these grants are being used to support great projects that strengthen those communities and improve lives in so many ways.” 

Campaign to save Edinburgh Filmhouse launched

18 Sep 2023

Edinburgh Filmhouse has launched a campaign to secure its future, after it agreed a short-term lease with the building's owner to allow fundraising to take place.

The cinema closed its doors in October last year following the collapse of its parent company,  the Centre for the Moving Image (CMI), which ceased trading amid rising overheads and reduced business.

The fundraiser is being spearheaded by the newly formed charity Filmhouse (Edinburgh) Ltd, which has entered into a 6-month interim lease with the building’s owner, Caledonian Heritable. During that time, it hopes to raise an initial  £1.25m for essential refurbishment to reopen in 2024.

If successful, the charity will take on a 21-year lease to operate the cinema independently, with a café bar to help support it financially.

Caledonian Heritable, which owns other hospitality businesses in Edinburgh, has already started upgrading the fabric of the cinema. The company has pledged to gift all projection equipment to the new Filmhouse, including the customised analogue 35mm and 70mm projectors.

After the announcement of the agreement between Filmhouse (Edinburgh) and the privately-owned Caledonian Heritable, national funding body Screen Scotland confirmed it had awarded the charity £60,000 to support its planning and development work.

Screen Scotland has been working with the City of Edinburgh Council and the Scottish government to ensure a future for independent cinema in the city since CMI’s collapse, which also resulted in the demise of the Edinburgh International Film Festival and Belmont Filmhouse in Aberdeen.

Culture Minister Christina McKelvie said: “The Scottish government is absolutely clear on the value of cultural cinema and the importance of ensuring its future.

“I am delighted to see that work to secure its future is progressing, and I am grateful to all involved for their ongoing hard work and dedication.”

Music festival suffers ‘crucial’ funding cut

18 Sep 2023

Organisers of a prominent festival in the UK’s classical music calendar have said they are “appalled and saddened” by Creative Scotland’s decision not to offer funding this year.

Lammermuir Festival, which takes place through September in East Lothian, applied for funding through Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund.

The festival has been in receipt of grants for the last 13 years, equating to up to 23% of its festival budget each year.

The news it missed out on funding in 2023 came 16 days before this year’s festival opened and followed multiple applications for funding, all of which were turned down.

A statement from the Chair and trustees of the festival said the funding “is crucial investment in an area of Scotland which does not have regular high-quality cultural events drawing audiences to the area”.

“To deliver this year’s festival as planned we shall be obliged to use a significant proportion of our reserves which we have judiciously built up over many years.

“Without Creative Scotland support the Lammermuir Festival’s future is under threat. We urge Creative Scotland to reconsider their decision and secure the future of Lammermuir Festival.” 

A spokesperson for Creative Scotland told The Herald: “Demand for Creative Scotland’s funding is increasing, and we receive far more applications than we have the budget to support.

“Whilst we recognise the important contribution Lammermuir Festival makes to Scotland's music sector, unfortunately, difficult decisions had to be made and we were unable to support their most recent applications.”

Second report questions Scottish arts funding

18 Sep 2023

A new report submitted to the Scottish government has warned that £104m of additional funding is required to secure the sector's future.

Further theatres affected by concrete concerns

Exterior of Preston Guild Hall
14 Sep 2023

More venues confirm presence of dangerous type of concrete with some closing as a precautionary measure. 

Dundee arts centre facing closure

11 Sep 2023

A contemporary art venue in Scotland has warned politicians that it is facing “unimaginable financial precarity” and will soon face closure without changes to its public funding, according to a report in The Scotsman.

In a new report to the Scottish Parliament, MEPs have been told that Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) is facing a £300,000 deficit for 2024 and an uncertain future.

Founded 25 years ago, DCA houses two large-scale galleries, two cinema screens, a print studio and a cafe bar in its £9m city centre facility.

The centre's director, Beth Bate, told The Scotsman that rising costs, stagnant funding and reduced audiences had left the registered charity “wrung dry,” and it would be forced to tap into its £450,000 reserves to "keep our doors open and staff employed”.

She said, “We’re so prudent. We’ve made efficiencies everywhere, including restructuring teams, losing hours and posts, restricting hours, delivering work with external partners, investing in fundraising, and setting high and hard income-generating targets.

“But we’re now at the point where we’re stripped back enough. Any more cuts will fundamentally change the organisation and the impact we have in Dundee, Scotland and internationally. We simply don’t have enough money.

“It’s hard to describe the exhaustion and frustration these working conditions induce. Staff retention, health and wellbeing, confidence and resilience are all affected, particularly as we start to see other organisations struggle and fold, and talented staff leave the sector.”

Bate said the only way to meet the deficit would be to cancel their exhibitions programme, children's film festival, and all learning and engagement projects. She added, "This would take us so far from our charitable aims and the function for which we’re funded, that we couldn’t operate.

“It is short-termism and stunting in the extreme, to have to work not knowing whether your successful, popular, efficiently-run organisation might not have a future.”

Holyrood pledges arts support amid funding 'standstill'

06 Sep 2023

First Minister Humza Yousaf has pledged to support Scotland's cultural sector, but did not announce any further funding for struggling organisations.

Fringe venues come together to ‘ensure future’ of festival

30 Aug 2023

A new association of 27 Edinburgh Fringe venues has been formed in a bid to “ensure the future of the Fringe ecosystem”.

The membership of the newly-formed Fringe Alliance includes most of the festival's venue producers who account for around 85% of Fringe ticket sales.

Among those who have signed up are high-profile venues/producers Assembly, Pleasance, Underbelly, Gilded Balloon and Summerhall. 

A statement from the Alliance said it had been founded due to the “external economic and political challenges" facing the Fringe.

In recent years the Fringe has attracted increasing criticism over the rising cost of participation and accommodation, and how this has made it less accessible to new artists without financial backing.

The Alliance statement continued: “Formed to represent those who make the fringe happen, support the fringe community, and safeguard the future of the fringe, Fringe Alliance marks an important step forward in ensuring the sustainability and growth of the festival.

“By fostering collaboration, advocating for those who take risks to make and present work at the fringe, and promoting best practice, the alliance is poised to create a positive and enduring impact on the cultural landscape of Edinburgh and beyond.”

Scottish museum returns totem pole to Nisga'a nation

29 Aug 2023

A 163-year-old totem pole has been returned from Scotland to the Nisga’a nation in British Colombia in what is thought to be the first transfer of its kind from a UK institution.

The Nisga’a Lisims Government and National Museums Scotland (NMS) agreed last December that the 11-metre the pole would be returned after nearly 100 years in Scotland.

It was acquired for the Royal Museum of Scotland in 1929 by the Canadian curator and ethnographer, Marius Barbeau, but NMS now accepts that the individual(s) who “sold” it to him did not have the authority to do so on behalf of the Nisga’a Nation.

Sim’oogit Ni’isjoohl (Chief Earl Stephens) said: “In Nisga’a culture, we believe that this pole is alive with the spirit of our ancestors.

"After nearly 100 years, we are finally able to bring our dear relative home to rest on Nisga’a lands."

The return of the pole is being described as “rematriation” in order to more closely align with Nisga’a matrilineal society.

The Scottish Government's External Affairs and Culture Secretary, Angus Robertson, said he "was pleased to have been able to provide the necessary ministerial consent to enable its return”.

Scotland’s screen industries continue to grow

29 Aug 2023

Scotland’s film and TV industries are continuing to grow, according to latest figures published by Screen Scotland.

The independent report, The Economic Value of the Screen Sector in Scotland in 2021, reveals inward investment in film and high-end TV (HETV) increased by 110%, from £165.3m in 2019 to £347.4m in 2021.

An estimated £617.4m was spent on the production of film, TV and other audiovisual content in Scotland in 2021, up 55% on the 2019 figure of £398.6m.   

The screen sector in Scotland contributed Gross Value Added (GVA) of £627m to the country's economy in 2021, in the process providing 10,930 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs.

This compares to £568m and 10,940 FTEs in 2019. 

Isabel Davis, Screen Scotland’s Executive Director, said the growth shows "that public investment via Screen Scotland in infrastructure, development, production and skills development, combined with attractive levels of production incentive are the catalyst for a successful industry".   

She continued: "Now is the time to build on these newly created jobs and growth with a sustained funding commitment towards skills development, attraction of large-scale productions and a focus on the development of locally originated film and television. "

Scottish project explores experiences of autistic adults

28 Aug 2023

A new seven-month creative project hopes to highlight the experiences of older autistic adults with learning difficulties in Scotland.

The collaboration between Heriot-Watt University and Scottish Autism will use filmmaking and art to shine a light on the hopes, concerns and needs of this group, while also exploring together what future social care services could look like.

The AHRC-funded collaboration is titled: 'Ageing, health, and social care: the meaningful engagement of autistic people with learning disabilities'.

Autistic filmmakers Iceberg Productions will interview autistic people with learning disabilities, aged 55 and over, to create a documentary which will be presented at a series of workshops.

Professor Mary Stewart, Director of Social Interaction, Mental Health and Wellbeing at Heriot-Watt, said the motivation for the project "came from the unfortunate reality that autistic people with learning disabilities do not often have their voices heard in research".

She added: “We know that using art as a tool for discussion can be very effective and allows for a range of ways to engage with discussion.

"The outcomes of the project will ultimately be used to raise awareness and provoke discussion with service professionals, policymakers and the wider community in Scotland and beyond."

Fringe organisers hit back at corporate sponsorship criticism

Edinburgh fringe high street stock photo
23 Aug 2023

The chair of the Edinburgh Fringe Society says “the entire culture sector could implode” if a sure-footed approach isn't taken to sponsors with links to the oil and gas industry.

Creative Scotland warns of 'highly competitive' funding round

scottish flag
21 Aug 2023

The total amount requested by over 500 cultural and creative organisations in Scotland outstrips the funder’s annual income by over £16m.

Additional funding to green Scotland’s museums

21 Aug 2023

The Scottish Government is to make more than £1m available to museums and galleries to help them achieve net zero emissions.

The Scottish Climate Engagement Fund, worth £550,000, aims to build understanding of the climate emergency and to mobilise climate action among communities.

Grants of between £50,000 and £100,000 will be awarded during 2023-24.

The funding is for public events, festivals and skills development. It will not support capital projects such as installing solar panels.

The deadline for applications is 1 September 2023.

The Scottish Government is also to give £500,000 to Museums Galleries Scotland towards running costs and resilience.

The money is intended to enable organisations across the country to reduce their capital costs and carry out crucial repairs and maintenance work.

“Given the current cost-of-living challenges and their impact on the ability of museums to run their services for the public, this £500,000 in funding will enable the museum sector to be more energy efficient,” said Culture Minister Christina McKelvie.

“In particular the fund will prioritise projects that will directly reduce carbon use or have a positive environmental impact.”

This work will contribute to achieving Scotland’s target of net zero emissions by 2045, she added.

“As well as encouraging the sector to be more sustainable, the aims of the fund align with our national priorities and will contribute to Scotland’s target of net zero emissions by 2045.”

CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland Lucy Casot said the additional government funding will “safeguard these spaces for years to come”.

Edinburgh Fringe cancellation sparks free speech debate

Graham Linehan speaking on stage at an event
17 Aug 2023

Questions around free speech and discrimination raised after Edinburgh Fringe show is cancelled due to concerns about comedian's personal views.

Glasgow Council considers £36m People’s Palace refurb

14 Aug 2023

A proposal to ‘restore, reimagine and enhance’ the 125-year-old People’s Palace and Winter Gardens claims structural damage is putting its collection at risk.


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