Hotspot is a new column where readers reflect on current issues in their region. Anne Bonnar thinks that the time has come to move beyond structures for a Creative Scotland and get it off the ground.
The Education Culture and Lifelong Learning Committee of the Scottish Parliament has begun scrutinising the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Bill (PSRB). The Bill provides for the Scottish Government’s commitment to reduce the number of public bodies in Scotland, and includes the establishment of Creative Scotland. The arts, culture and creative industries sectors in Scotland have been on a rollercoaster since devolution ten years ago, with arts and culture being high on the agenda for both the inaugural Labour administration and the current minority SNP administration. Ambitions were aired, expectations were raised by a series of politicians, political manifestos, events and publications, and consultations. There have been seven culture ministers. Before the current bill, there was one national cultural strategy, one cultural commission, one draft Culture Bill and one Creative Scotland Bill. From the first consultation on the National Cultural Strategy in 2000, a constant theme was the need for reform of the Scottish Arts Council and to create a strategic body fit for Scotland’s arts, culture and creative industries in the twenty-first century: a champion, broker and supporter as well as investor, with an international role and supporting the wider creative industries: creativity, creative expression and creative experiences across the spectrum.
Artists and organisations supported change – as long as there would be additional resources. There are some concerns that Creative Scotland will dilute resources or diminish the intrinsic value of the arts and requests for amendments to protect artforms and ring-fence money. But it is time to stop arguing about structures and to speed up the birth of Creative Scotland so that artists and arts organisations can focus on what they do best – and allow the recruitment of the CEO for Creative Scotland. In amongst the cuts in public expenditure, Creative Scotland has been prioritised and its budget sustained. Now it is time to get the show on the road.