Major fund to be set up to boost Scottish culture post-Brexit

Scottish Ballet already benefits from Government funding. Picture: John Devlin
Scottish Ballet already benefits from Government funding. Picture: John Devlin
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The Scottish Government is to create a major new arts fund for international projects to help offset the impact of Brexit.

It will be launched within months of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union as part of a drive to ensure the profile of Scottish culture is maintained in future.

The International Creative Ambition Programme will support the creation of new collaborations with international cultural organisations and artists.

It is understood the fund will help pay for major new works to be staged both in Scotland and around the world.

It is being developed as part of a strategy positioning Scottish culture as “innovative, inclusive and open to the wider world.”

The Government, which already has a £350,000 international touring fund open to national performing companies such as Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera, has not confirmed how much funding will be ring-fenced for the new initiative.

However it has previously revealed that the Scottish cultural sector has benefited from at least £59 million in European funding over the last decade, with more than 650 projects receiving help. It allocated an extra £10m for the screen sector in its previous budget.

Around six per cent of Scotland’s creative industries workforce is thought be to be drawn from non-UK EU countries.

The new fund is expected to be launched after the Government finalises a new long-term cultural strategy for Scotland later this year.

A draft put out for consultation in the summer said the potential impact of Brexit had been raised by many contributors.

The draft strategy declared: “Cultural collaboration lies at the heart of Scotland’s relationship with the European Union, though cultural exchange with Europe has a longer and illustrious history.

“It is critical to ensure that this spirit of openness and collaboration will endure through a future relationship with the EU.

“Culture, and artists, play a key role in international diplomacy and culture is widely recognised as being critical to how Scotland is viewed internationally. Scotland is respected as an outward-looking and globally aware country that has a long history of cultural collaboration, not least via the Scottish diaspora who have made their homes across the world.

“It is important that these international ties are nurtured and valued for the way that they connect Scotland to the wider world and foster mutual understanding.”

Early plans for the creation of the new fund have emerged in the Scottish Government’s new policy programme.

It states: “Culture is the way that society expresses itself, seeks meaning and connection. Culture supports us to understand, celebrate and question the past, the present and navigate the future. Culture makes us more aware of ourselves and of others.

“Our vision is that culture in Scotland is innovative, inclusive and open to the wider world.

“We want the rest of the world to see Scotland as a creative, open, welcoming and outward-looking nation, proud of our reputation and optimistic about our future. Where Brexit threatens our ability to connect and prosper we will do what we can for Scotland to flourish.”

Culture secretary Fiona Hyslop, below left, said: “The International Creative Ambition Programme will support international cultural collaboration and exchange and support international partnerships to develop new work.

“It will showcase the best of culture and the creative industries from Scotland, promoting the importance of culture and creativity as a fundamental and powerful means by which Scotland remains open to the wider world and interested and welcoming of new ideas, people, languages and cultures.

“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting the culture and creative sectors’ international ambitions, particularly in the light of the UK leaving the European Union, with a view to launching the new funding programme in May 2019.”