Alan Cumming joins chorus of disapproval over Creative Scotland

Alan Cumming hosted the ceremony at the Tron Theatre. Picture: Getty

Alan Cumming hosted the ceremony at the Tron Theatre. Picture: Getty

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ONE of Scotland’s leading actors, Alan Cumming, has become the most high-profile critic yet to attack the funding overhaul ordered by Creative Scotland.

The Hollywood star, who is about to take the stage in Glasgow in a major new production of Macbeth, called on the agency to instigate peace talks with critics over the “major PR mistake” of its shake-up, which has left dozens of groups without regular funding.

He said he had been greatly saddened by the mounting row, which he claims has left artists and writers “uninvolved, excluded and bemused”.

He warned Creative Scotland that the current level of criticism was “only the tip of the iceberg” because many artists were still afraid of speaking out publicly.

Cumming was speaking to The Scotsman after hosting the annual Scottish theatre “Oscars” in Glasgow, which were overshadowed by the dispute. It was referred to by several presenters and award winners, including Kieran Hurley, winner of best new play, who said the theatre sector in Scotland was being confronted by “marketplace-driven language”.

Cumming, who has been in Glasgow for several weeks rehearsing for Macbeth, said he had been doing “a lot” of reading on the controversy surrounding Creative Scotland, which warned many arts organisations they will have to apply for funding for one-off projects or programmes in future.

“This issue isn’t about money or funding cuts. It is about a real breakdown in communication with the creative community.

“These are not aggressive war-mongering types or belligerent oiks. But people are feeling completely uninvolved, excluded and bemused. It is so sad what is happening. Anything new is going to take time to settle down, but it does seem that both sides need to come together.

“The big issue appears to be not being able to plan properly in advance. These are artists, not business models, but some people feel they are being treated like that. I think we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg at the moment, there will be a lot of p***** off people out there. People are worried about biting the hand that feeds them.”

Meanwhile, a play about the impact of the 1990s rave scene and a National Theatre of Scotland production of A Christmas Carol claimed top honours at the event, known as the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland.

Beats, by Kieran Hurley, won Best New Play and is tipped to be a hit at this year’s Fringe after securing a flagship slot in the Traverse programme. The Glasgow-based writer’s play is told from the point of view of a teenager living at the time of the 1994 Criminal Justice Act, which clamped down on illegal raves.

A Christmas Carol, staged at Govan Town Hall last December, won best production and best ensemble cast. It had been nominated in five different categories.

The awards were being staged for the tenth time, at an uncertain time for the Scottish theatre scene following the recent announcement that Vicky Featherstone is stepping down as artistic director of NTS.

Acting honours went to Stephen Clyde, one of the stars of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which was staged in Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens, while Ann Louise Ross was honoured for her role in Further Than The Furthest Thing, at Dundee Rep.

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