Covid-19 has exposed 'financial fragility' of cultural sector, says head of Creative Scotland

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the “financial fragility” at the heart of Scotland’s cultural sector, according to the head of Creative Scotland.
Iain Munro, chief executive of Creative ScotlandIain Munro, chief executive of Creative Scotland
Iain Munro, chief executive of Creative Scotland

Iain Munro, chief executive of the arts quango, said the mass closure of venues and productions during the lockdown, coupled with the postponement or cancellations of numerous events, had had a “very serious personal and professional impact” on Scotland’s creative community.

He said the aftershocks of the Covid-19 outbreak have left him feeling “anxious” for the future, but stressed that he was also hopeful, noting how “in dark times there will still be singing.”

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Despite a multimillion pound funding pot set up to help the industry, there are fears for many creative professionals, particularly freelance workers who are ineligible for other support measures, such as small business grants and furlough payments.

The Scottish Artists Union has warned that some people are facing “real financial hardship,” pointing out that more than four in five of its members earn less than £10,000 a year from their creative work.

Now, Mr Munro has said the pandemic will have a permanent impact on industry, stating that when people talk about recovery, “it’s not about recovery to the old world, it’s recovery with an eye to what the new world could be.”

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In an interview with Holyrood magazine, he said the sector will “undoubtedly need further support” as it attempts to recover from the devastating economic blow, and suggested it had revealed existing fiscal faultlines.

He said: “The economy that operates within the cultural sector is a fragile one anyway. I think people make small amounts of money, relatively speaking, go a very, very long way and they do brilliant things with it but that does not make it right.

“The current situation has only served to expose the financial fragility and lack of resilience that exists in the sector.”

Mr Munro added: ““The speed and severity with which this whole crisis hit is scary and breathtaking.

“Undoubtedly it has led to very serious personal and professional impacts on creative people and the work they do with communities right across Scotland.”

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