SCOTTISH culture secretary Fiona Hyslop has unveiled a £3 million boost for Scotland’s film and TV sector - hours before she is due to appear before a parliamentary inquiry over claims it is in the grip of a crisis.
New funding has been provided to national arts agency Creative Scotland to help attract new big-money productions to Scotland, days after MSPs were told the country was lagging way behind Northern Ireland and Wales due to a lack of incentive funding.
However there is still no news on a proposed national film studio, almost two years after Ms Hyslop set up a delivery group to get the project off the group.
The extra funding includes £2 million to provide loans to allow companies to access UK Tax Credits for productions in Scotland, with a further £1 million for skills development schemes.
The extra funding will increase the amount Creative Scotland has to support the film and TV industries by a third, to £12 million. It has been announced in the wake of a lengthy campaign for a better financial deal for the screen sector, which has been led by film producers.
The Scottish Government has been under mounting pressure to intervene over the state of the screen sector, with campaigners “door-stepping” new First Minister Nicola Sturgeon recently to press home their claims.
Ms Hyslop said the government’s announcement would help Scotland’s screen sector to “thrive” and “flourish” by helping producers to make projects stack up financially and help encourage more young people into the industries.
She added: “Scotland is already widely recognised for our world-class talent, crews, facilities and breath-taking locations. The government and its agencies are committed to working together to continue to create the conditions that enable our screen sector to flourish.
“The funds I am announcing will assist producers in financing their projects, at the same time as investing directly in our workforce to build on its strengths and address the gaps identified by the sector.”
The economy committee’s inquiry at Holyrood has heard the levels of film and TV production have slumped in Scotland compared to Cardiff and Belfast due to a lack of funding and a shortage of suitable studio facilities.
Despite the lack of any news on the proposed studio complex, Ms Hyslop said: “We fully understand that Scotland needs greater studio resources for film and high end TV production.”
Arabella Page Croft, producer of Sunshine on Leith, and a member of the Independent Producers Scotland group, said: “It’s useful to be able to cash-flow the tax credit in Scotland and of course investment in training is always important.
“This is a move in the right direction but there are already many very good tax credit providers in the UK. What the Scottish Government must find is a real hard commitment to more actual production and development funding.
“My strong message is don’t stop here. We must have significantly more if Scotland is to compete in a global market with our European and UK counterparts.
“Raise production funding and you will attract and create more big films and television production in the UK. When you have watered the garden, the germination could be spectacular, but the money needs to be in the right place”.
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