The introduction of two-year Open Project Funding is thought to have led to a drop in the number of arts organisations applying for Regular Funding.

Photo of man with head in a red balloon
Edinburgh Festival performance

80 fewer arts organisations have applied for three-year funding from Creative Scotland’s Regular Funding programme, following the introduction of its two-year Open Project Funding programme.

184 Scottish arts organisations have applied for a total of £153m for the period April 2018 to March 2021, £60m less than was requested during the 2015-18 funding round.

There is still likely to be a significant shortfall, however, since Creative Scotland has warned it is likely to cut the number of organisations it supports via the programme, which awarded just under £100m to 118 organisations during 2015-18.

A spokesperson for Creative Scotland said: “Over the past year we have consistently communicated that we expect pressure on our budgets to continue and that it is likely that the amount of funding we have available for Regular Funding in future will reduce, meaning we are likely to fund fewer organisations through this funding route than at present.

“Open Project Funding, which was launched in October 2014 and provides funding for up to two years, is also now an option for organisations to apply to. Both of these factors will have had an impact on the number of organisations who have decided to apply for Regular Funding 2018-21.”

Lowered expectations

Writing in March 2017, Creative Scotland’s Deputy Chief Executive Ian Munro urged arts organisations working on their funding bids to “budget realistically” and “focus on core need”, pointing to an anticipated squeeze on Scottish Government budgets and a downturn in lottery income.

The anxious rhetoric was a marked change from Creative Scotland’s actions in 2015, when it responded to public and Governmental pressure with a revised ten-year plan and new funding streams. It more than doubled the number of organisations receiving three-year funding, from 45 to 119, after receiving 264 applications requesting £212m from a budget of £90m.

Final decision

Decisions about which organisations will receive funding and how much is awarded will not be made until later this year. In a post on the funder’s website, Munro wrote: “Our Board will announce its decisions once we have received confirmation of next year’s draft budget from the Scottish Government, which we expect towards the end of this year.

“We will provide more detail on specific dates for the announcement of decisions once we have more clarity on the dates for the Scottish Government budget. We don’t plan to make any further updates on Regular Funding 2018-21 until then.”