New funding framework sees key organisations moved into project funding

Two-year funding agreements for 49 of Scotland’s arts companies will come to an end in March 2013 when Creative Scotland’s ‘flexible funding’ grant programme is abolished. Instead the 49 will be required to compete for project funding from an open application Lottery-backed investment fund which will support anything from single one-off projects, to programmes of work over 1-2 years. Creative Scotland has pledged to “work collaboratively with organisations as they devise their proposals” for the new £11m investment fund.

Every organisation affected will be invited to meet with Creative Scotland before the end of June, with a view to finding a positive way forward. The rules of Lottery funding prevent it being used for revenue funding, but Creative Scotland is confident those losing their regular funding will be no worse off: the value of the existing flexible funding programme is £7.1m, so in theory, these organisations could stand to gain. Later in the year, Creative Scotland will also be launching a £3.5m programme for strategic commissioning, to which they will be eligible to apply. However, the lack of certainty is sure to unsettle the sector: the Scottish Arts Council’s major re-structuring of its grants programmes in 2007 ultimately saw the demise of some companies that were moved from regular funding to project funding. A spokesperson told AP: “We are not unaware that these changes will cause anxiety, but well run companies doing good work have nothing at all to fear.”
At the same time, a further 22 organisations, mainly umbrella bodies, networks and agencies, are also being removed from the flexible funding programme and will in future be funded through annual service level agreements which reflect “the long term strategic aims for Creative Scotland and the cultural sector as a whole, as well as the changing nature of the way creative Scotland receives its income”. Three new organisations – Highland Print Studio, Edinburgh Printmakers and Cumbernauld Theatre – will join Creative Scotland’s portfolio of Foundation Organisations, those deemed to offer "a distinctive and significantly unique role in relation to an artform, policy priority and/or place" (AP117). This will bring the total portfolio of Foundation Organisation clients to 44.