Creative Scotland blamed for closure of Glasgow arts company

Janet Archer, chief executive officer of Creative Scotland. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
Janet Archer, chief executive officer of Creative Scotland. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
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Arts quango Creative Scotland is under fresh fire after it was blamed for the closure of a long-running company which will result in the loss of 15 jobs.

National audience development agency Culture Republic has announced it will be winding up within weeks after losing its long-term funding at the start of the year.

The Glasgow-based company, which has been running for 14 years, specialises in advising and training arts organisations on how to target and develop various audience demographics, and runs workshops and training sessions for the cultural sector.

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Culture Republic has worked with a host of Scotland’s leading arts venues and organisations, including the National Museum of Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland, the main Edinburgh festivals, V&A Dundee, Celtic Connections and the National Theatre of Scotland.

An official statement from the company said that it had been left with no option to close without any “endorsement, funding or long-term investment.”

Alan Wilson, chair of Culture Republic’s board, said: “This decision was very difficult and was taken following a major review of the company after our bid to Creative Scotland for regular funding was not supported.

“The ongoing lack of clarity at a national level of the role of data, digital and audience development – essential to helping Scotland’s cultural organisations understand, grow and diversify their audiences – also made planning for a financially sustainable future impossible.

“We recognise this is a very difficult time for all staff and we are now in the formal process of redundancy consultations with all employees and contacting our members and partners regarding the completion of outstanding project work.”

Julie Tait, chief executive of Culture Republic, said: ““It is with huge disappointment that we close our doors at a time when data and digital technology - and the skills and experience to use them – have never been more essential to drive inclusion, attendance and rapid change across the arts in Scotland.

“We have worked across the country and with inspiring cultural organisations to help understand, attract and diversify their audiences, but were also in the uncomfortable position of competing with them for funds.”

Culture Republic is the second company in just over a month to announced its closure after losing out on a “regular funding” application to Creative Scotland earlier this year.

Last month another Glasgow-based company NVA, which was leading efforts to turn the former St Peter’s Seminary, in Argyll, into a new arts centre, is to close in September with the loss of seven jobs. It was also turned down in the most recent Creative Scotland funding round in January.

The quango, led by chief executive Janet Archer, later apologised for the handling of more than £10 million worth of applications and has been condemned by Holyrood’s culture committee for its performance.

An internal probe is underway at Creative Scotland into the fall-out from the funding controversies, while new chairman Robert Wilson recently instigated a full internal review of how the quango is run.

A spokesman for Creative Scotland said: “We’ve been working with Culture Republic over recent months to discuss their future options following their unsuccessful application for regular funding.

“We have provided £175,000 in transition funding to Culture Republic to maintain their commitments in 2018/19.

“We clearly recognise the importance of audience data collection and analysis in Scotland and are currently exploring how best to ensure this is provided effectively.”