SCOTLAND’S artists are facing an age of austerity amid widespread funding cutbacks in the next few years, one of the nation’s most prominent playwrights has warned.
David Greig, one of the founders of theatre company Suspect Culture, said there was “no way” the arts would escape cuts north of the border because of the expected squeeze on government and council budgets.
Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Greig said he was already “very worried” about the impact of cuts in arts funding south of the border on Scottish artists.
And the Edinburgh-born writer, one of the leading cultural voices in the pro-independence movement, predicted Scotland would not be “immune” to cuts in arts funding, regardless of the result of next month’s poll.
Greig said: “Many of my plays go on in England and I have many, many colleagues in Edinburgh. It’s a very important place for me.
“I’m very worried about the situation facing the arts, and in particularly theatre, in England. The cuts are coming, they’re already happening and there’s no sign of them getting lessened.
“If the arts in England start to slide in terms of the subsidy that will have a knock-on effect in Scotland as well. We are funded separately, but many artists work across the border.
“We in Scotland are not going to be immune to this. There’s no way that the arts are going to be let off here. I’m sorry to say that that is almost certain in the event of a ‘yes’ vote as well. In the first instance, it will be very difficult to escape the budgets that will already have been set.
“The situation with local authorities is also crucial in Scotland. A criticism I would have of the SNP administration is that the emphasis on council tax freezes has left local authorities facing very severe cuts.
“It is at that level that you will find politicians who will say: ‘Do we keep a nursery open or do we keep the arts provision?’
“It was entirely cut recently in Moray. What arts provision there was had come down to one person whose job it was to try facilitate and promote. It was a terrible waste because there was a pitiful amount of money saved from cutting that person’s job, which was to make connections, raise money and make projects happen.”