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Following the publication of its general election manifesto, the party was contacted by journalists questioning the lack of any reference to the arts or creative industries.

Photo of Fiona Hyslop speaking
Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop speaking at the CIF event in May

The Scottish National Party (SNP) has published a special ‘manifesto for culture and creativity’ after questions were raised about the party’s failure to even mention the arts or creative industries in its 2017 election manifesto.

Media organisations, including ArtsProfessional and The Times, contacted the party about the omission after its election manifesto was published last Tuesday.

The Creative Industries Federation said at the time: “There is no mention of Scotland’s fast-growing creative industries, which now employ more people than its oil and gas sector – a sector which receives much attention in their manifesto.”

Culture is devolved to Scotland and the manifesto for culture and creativity, published on the party’s website on Sunday, outlines what the SNP Scottish Government does for culture, as well as outlining how policy proposals made in the SNP general election manifesto will support the arts and creative industries in Scotland.

Single market

In its new manifesto for culture and creativity, the SNP highlights how campaigning for Scotland to remain in the European Single Market and to protect the rights of EU nationals will help Scotland’s cultural sector.

“The Tory plan to leave the European Single Market has the potential to greatly harm our creative industries’ ability to operate and be successful,” it says. The SNP promises to back policies “which ensure copyright and IP protections support our industries” and ensure Scotland’s interests are represented in negotiations for a Digital Single Market.

“If the SNP wins the election, it will give us a mandate to demand a place for Scotland at the Brexit negotiating table and the inclusion of the case for our place in the Single Market in the UK’s negotiating remit,” it says.

The culture manifesto also commits the SNP to:

  • Supporting the devolution of immigration powers to the Scottish Parliament, so that it can adopt an immigration policy suited to Scotland and its creative sector
  • Calling for clarity and certainty that Scotland’s cultural sector will be able to access EU funds, such as Creative Europe, after Brexit
  • Pushing for broadcasting to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament and demanding that the UK Government reinstates funding for Gaelic broadcasting
  • Ensuring that the UK’s new Industrial Strategy takes account of Scotland’s economic challenges and recognises the needs of its creative sector.

A welcome update

The Creative Industries Federation (CIF) has welcomed the new culture manifesto, saying it was “disappointed” the creative industries were excluded initially.

“Additional commitments to endorse existing tax reliefs for culture and creative industries and ensure that IP and copyright policies support our sector in future are a step in the right direction. We too would hope that plans for UK government’s industrial strategy will work for creative industries across the UK, including Scotland as the SNP call for.

“We look forward to hearing more detail on how the SNP will achieve these ends and if it will utilise its influence in Westminster for the benefit of the entire UK sector.”

Glasgow debate

The points made in the SNP’s new manifesto echo those outlined by SNP representatives two weeks ago at an election Q&A hosted by CIF at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall. Scottish Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop and John Nicolson, the SNP’s Westminster spokesperson for culture, media and sport, addressed questions from audience members.

Brexit and its fallout for the creative industries were top of the agenda. Hyslop and Nicolson highlighted the importance of freedom of movement for the creative industries. Hyslop said the “lifeblood of our creativity” depends on access to international talent.

“It’s not just about EU nationals that are currently here,” she said. “It’s how do we make sure in years to come that we have that movement of people to make sure our cultural life is enriched.”

A recent survey of CIF members found that around three quarters currently employ EU nationals and a similar proportion are concerned that restricting immigration could limit their capacity to do business.

Hyslop warned against a visa system that prioritises high-earning individuals: “We have to recalibrate the debate,” she said. “It’s not about the monetary value of somebody’s salary… it’s got to be about the contribution or impact that people make.”

They also discussed how upcoming tax changes will affect freelance and self-employed workers, and the new BBC Scotland TV channel.

A photo of Frances Richens