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Scotland’s Cultural Secretary Angus Robertson says exploring new funding streams in addition to government funding, and working closely with local authorities, will be key for the future of the sector.

Scotland's Culture Secretary Angus Robertson
Robertson speaking at last week's committee meeting

Scottish parliament

Scotland’s Culture Secretary Angus Robertson has suggested the country looks to philanthropists to help fund the arts.

Speaking before the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee at Holyrood last Thursday (18 January), Robertson said it is “absolutely right” for the Scottish government to consider “all potential options” to support the sector, but admitted there was no “single silver bullet”.

“I have thought for quite a while that, in addition to what local and national government do, we also have an opportunity to work much more closely with people, or the trusts and foundations that they may be involved in, who give money to the sector,” Robertson said.


“I think that we can work much better together with the philanthropic sector domestically and internationally. I look forward to exploring all those things. 

“None of them provide the single answer to the concerns that we know very well about the funding situation that the sector has been going through, but I think they all potentially play a part in the answer to helping it be as well funded as I hope we all agree it should be.”

In December, the Scottish government announced it will 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.

The news followed the decision to reimpose a £6.6m budget cut to Creative Scotland in September, after the govenrnment abandoned the proposal earlier in the year. Robertson originally backed the cut, stating “the time is right” for Creative Scotland to deploy its reserves while the government is faced with “difficult decisions”.

During Thursday’s meeting, Robertson said the government’s additional arts funding “allows us to move beyond simply sustaining the sector to developing it in innovative ways to support Scotland’s creative sector and its contribution to our own wellbeing economy and international reputation”. 

But he also warned that the support of culture is not just the responsibility of the Scottish government and its agencies, adding working in partnership with local government will be “key”.

“It is only by working in partnership that we will be able to get ourselves through the sustain phase and into the better funding scenario that we are moving towards. It is only by taking a partnership approach that we will see the success that we want to see right across the country,” he said.

“I have not met a single person in local government who does not want there to be excellent cultural provision in their local government area. That relationship will be key.”

Tourism tax support

Robertson also voiced support for Scotland adopting a tourism levy as an additional way of generating funds.

The levy would allow local authorities to introduce a charge on overnight visitor stays. It has been proposed the cash raised could be put towards subsidising tourism infrastructure.

The legislation passed its first parliamentary vote in Holyrood last week and will now be considered by the Local Government, Housing and Planning Committee, before returning to Scottish parliament for further consideration.

“I think it is right that we consider all potential options for supporting the culture and arts sector. We have to acknowledge that other countries are further ahead of us in some respects. The visitor levy is a good example of that,” Robertson said on Thursday.

“The overwhelming majority of countries across the European Union have a levy, and I am not aware of any evidence that suggests that it has a detriment on tourism spend. Indeed, it has the benefit of bringing in additional funding to municipalities and regions.”