• Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email

The Scottish National Party has published a paper proposing benefits to the country's cultural and creative sectors if it leaves the UK.

Culture Secretary Angus Robertson
Culture Secretary Angus Robertson says culture is one of Scotland's priceless assets

An independent Scotland would consider the introduction of an Irish-style tax exemption for work created by artists as part of a range of measures designed to bolster the country’s creative sectors, a new paper from the Scottish National Party (SNP) has revealed.

The proposal was put forward in Culture in an Independent Scotland, the tenth paper in the Building a New Scotland series, presenting policy changes the SNP would make to the country’s culture and creative industries sector in the event of any future successful ‘leave’ referendum. 

It notes that while tax support has been "an important tool in supporting our vital cultural institutions in times of crisis”, future independent Scottish governments would also explore a variety of new permanent tax benefits to the culture sector. This includes “learning” from the impact of Ireland’s artists’ exemption, which helps support writers, composers, visual artists, sculptors and others.


In Ireland, the benefit means that if Irish Tax and Customs deem a piece of work original and creative with cultural or artistic merit, any income it generates up to €50,000 each year is exempt from income tax. In its paper, SNP said: “Such measures could play a role in helping to ensure that Scotland's creative professionals have the support and stability that they need.”

Scottish Lottery

The SNP says independence would give the Scottish government “powers to make important fiscal decisions about the cultural sector which are currently reserved to the UK government".

However, the paper underlines that it would seek to continue participating in the National Lottery, the UK’s largest distributor of charity funds, for the remainder of the existing licence term. 

Over 29 years, the National Lottery has donated £48bn to good causes, including around £375m to the arts and £375m to heritage in 2023. Czech lottery business Allwyn replaced Camelot as operator of the National Lottery on 1 February, beginning a new licence of ten years. 

According to the SNP's paper, an independent Scottish government would “negotiate to form a new regulatory relationship” with Allwyn to “ensure an equitable apportionment of good cause money across Scotland".  After the existing license expires, Holyrood would consider whether to establish "a distinct Scottish National Lottery".


The SNP's goal of rejoining the EU forms the bulk of the benefits to the cultural and creative sectors laid out in its paper.

Returning to freedom of movement in Europe while remaining part of the UK Common Travel Area would give Scottish artists “the double benefit of access to EU and UK markets” while removing administrative and financial burdens enacted since Brexit, according to the paper.

One of the obstacles the SNP hopes to remove by rejoining the EU is the need for ATA carnets to transport equipment, including musical instruments, sound equipment and staging across borders. It notes that currently there are a limited number of places these can be processed, with the only seaports being in southern England and the only airports in Scotland being in the central belt, creating barriers for those based or travelling to other parts of Scotland.

The SNP says an independent Scotland would also have the power to remove barriers for international artists performing at the country’s festivals. Other possible cultural benefits include creating an "impartial" Scottish public service broadcaster, competing as a nation in Eurovision, and becoming a full member state of UNESCO.

Culture cuts

 “Culture is one of Scotland’s priceless assets, and we are determined to protect and enhance it, putting it at the heart of our communities for the benefit of everyone. These strong foundations could help us become a successful, inclusive, vibrant, independent nation," said Culture Secretary Angus Robertson.

“It is more important than ever that Scotland has the powers necessary to support and develop our cultural and creative sectors: to ensure that creative professionals can work and collaborate with their peers around the world and ensure that everyone in Scotland can fully benefit from our rich and diverse culture.”

Critics have questioned the Scottish government's commitment to culture following its decision to reimpose a £6.6m budget cut to Creative Scotland in September, having abandoned the proposal earlier in the year. In December, it announced it would increase its arts and culture budget by £15.8m in 2024/25 as part of a wider pledge to invest an additional £100m in the arts by 2028/29.

Pamela Nash, Chief Executive of Scotland in Union, said: “The SNP-Green government has a nerve to talk about culture given the extent to which it has decimated the sector during its time in power.

“This is now the 10th paper in which the Scottish government has ignored the pressing issues of the day in order to fantasise about its own selfish constitutional obsession. It represents yet another dereliction of duty from a Scottish government which has overseen chronic failure in almost every policy area over which it has responsibility, including arts and culture."

A headshot of Mary Stone