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

The Scottish government has outlined a commitment to the country's cultural sector

Andy 2673 via iStock

The Scottish government has outlined a commitment to tackling the “significant challenges” facing the country’s cultural institutions due to the combined effects of Covid, Brexit and the rising costs of living and operating.

The pledge was made in a letter to Scottish Culture Secretary Angus Robertson, in which First Minister Humza Yousaf summarised his priorities for the current financial year.

Mr Yousaf did not say if there would be any further funding for the culture sector, leaving arts organisations waiting until the government’s budget plans are revealed in December. 


In the letter, the First Minister vowed to support and promote Scotland’s arts industry and those who work in it, developing a “long-term strategic approach to skills and careers in the sector”.

He recognised “the transformational power of culture as a medium to contribute to the achievement of the government’s key priorities” and said he would “support the recovery and renewal of the culture sector with a focus on empowering individuals and communities”.

The government’s pledges come after a report by Creative Scotland said that one in three of the nation’s arts organisations is “at serious risk of insolvency in the short term” due to “standstill levels of public funding” since 2018 and increased operating costs.

In a recent submission to the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee at Holyrood, the quango claimed 900 jobs were at immediate risk, as well as 12,000 creative freelance opportunities.

'A perfect storm'

The report is the latest warning from Creative Scotland, which has frequently referred to the increased costs and budget cuts facing cultural organisations as “a perfect storm”.

In its submission to MSPs, Creative Scotland cautioned that public funding for the arts in Scotland is “short-term in nature and precarious in reality” as well as “comparatively low and consistently below the European average”.

Earlier this year, the government reversed proposals to reduce Creative Scotland’s £63m budget by more than 10% for 2023-2024 after an emergency campaign by a coalition of arts organisations and unions called for the cuts to be scrapped.

While the funding body, which currently supports 350 organisations on a multi-year basis, welcomed the U-turn, it said the reversal “simply restored our budget to standstill level and did not increase the funding we have available to support the culture and creative sector, where demand continues to grow”.

It added, “This means that Creative Scotland’s budget from the Scottish government for the current financial year remains static year-on-year. 

“Given we only have an annual settlement from the Scottish government, we do not know what our budget will be beyond March 2024 and, therefore, neither do the people and organisations that we support across Scotland’s culture and creative sector.”


Creative Scotland has recently opened applications for its new multi-year funding programme, due to commence in 2025. However, it reiterated a warning to MEPs that it anticipated being oversubscribed after 500 cultural organisations registered an intention to apply.

The funding body said, “Unless budgets from the Scottish government increase over the coming years, the new multi-year fund will not be able to support as many organisations across Scotland as we currently do. 

“This means that many organisations currently operating will either need to adapt the scale and scope of what they do or, inevitably and unfortunately, cease operating.”

A headshot of Mary Stone