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Art in Action is calling on politicians to “think differently about art” and place it at the heart of their decision-making.

A group of people lit by multi-coloured light
Scottish Contemporary Art Network's 'Art in Action' launch, Scotland

Colin Hattersley

More than 250 of Scotland’s artists and arts leaders have launched a campaign to improve government investment in visual arts, by raising awareness of the social impact benefits of visual arts in local communities.

The Scottish Contemporary Art Network (SCAN)’s campaign Art in Action is calling on MSPs to publicly commit to supporting their work, and value visual artists’ contribution to the nation’s wellbeing and learning.

SCAN represents artists and arts leaders from venues including the Scottish National Gallery of Art, Glasgow School of Art and Edinburgh Art Festival. They want to see the benefits of arts engagement reflected in government policy and funding.

SCAN director Clare Harris said: ‘As part of the fabric of our diverse and multi-faceted society, contemporary visual art can feed long-term change within our communities.

‘As such, artists should play an integral role in planning for a future vibrant Scotland. We challenge decision-makers to think differently about art – and to recognise its potential by investing in it.’


In its recent submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Culture Committee inquiry on arts funding, SCAN said the ‘strength of the sector’s achievement and ambition… is not matched by the support provided it.’

It warned that real terms decreases in Creative Scotland funding to visual arts organisations were leading to concerns that the situation was nearing “breaking point”.

The submission adds that “the best route to a sustainable funding model that works for Scotland is through close strategic working with the sector itself to explore ways that Scotland can lead in placing art and culture at its heart”.

Summer visits

The Art in Action campaign will be using the summer parliamentary recess to invite MSPs to see the positive impact of the visual arts in their constituencies.

The campaign will highlight activity that "shows how artists play an integral role in their communities, creating a shared experience that enhances wellbeing and furthers our understanding of our world".

MSPs will be encouraged to share their support for the visual arts on social media using #ArtInAction.

Tom Arthur, SNP MSP for Renfrewshire South and a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Culture, is backing the campaign, and is encouraging his fellow MSPs to "visit an artist or arts organisation in their constituency over the summer recess period and share their experiences with others in their local community and beyond".