Row over Scottish Arts Council grants
THE Scottish Arts Council was embroiled in an arts funding row in the closing days of its existence yesterday as a Fife Council spokesman attacked a "bizarre" decision to end £160,000 in funding for St Andrews' principal theatre, the Byre.
The arts body yesterday announced decisions on 16 million of spending to 60 Scottish arts organisations for 2011 and 2012 under its "flexible funding" scheme.
It said over 130 organisations applied for grants to produce "creative work of a high quality" and singled out winning bids from an Aberdeen music festival to several arts companies working with people with disabilities. The StAnza poetry festival, based in St Andrews, earned a 57,000 grant for the first time.
Many organisations benefited from similar or slightly higher funding levels. But another major loser was Wee Stories, the popular Edinburgh-based children's theatre company, which also saw a former 160,000 grant reduced to zero.
"We are clearly disappointed at the news and we are meeting to discuss it tomorrow," said Wee Stories chairman John Stalker.
By contrast, the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Glasgow will receive 300,000. The CCA's building is jointly owned by the SAC and Glasgow City Council.
Early next month Creative Scotland, the new arts body, is due to take over the responsibilities of both the screen agency, Scottish Screen, and the SAC.
Flexible funding was introduced by the council alongside longer-term, more stable "foundation funding" for selected theatres, galleries and other bodies. Previous awards were made for the 2009-11 period, while the future ones cover 2011-13.
The council's acting chief executive, Morag Arnot, said the 60 organisations that successfully applied were leaders in presenting "excellent work, and collectively will draw in audiences across Scotland".
Fife Council's culture spokesman, Councillor Brian Goodall, said the "bizarre announcement" appeared to be "weighted in favour of the Central Belt".
Byre chief Jacqueline McKay said: "The Byre and our lead funder, Fife Council, are astonished at this announcement. We submitted a very strong, bold and confident bid to the SAC."
FUND INS & OUTS
ARTS companies that won "flexible funding" for two years beginning in 2011 included: the Red Note Ensemble (120,000), the Sound Festival (73,000), Vox Motus (150,000) and Solar Bear (82,000).
Companies that were previously funded but did not win awards include: Dub Busters (Itchy Coo), the Dunedin Concerts Trust, the Edinburgh Contemporary Arts Trust, Glasgow Grows Audiences and the Scottish Community Drama Organisation.
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