Brian Wilson: Absurd bureaucracy threatens Glasgow’s CCA arts centre

The future of Glasgow's Centre for Contemporary Arts is at risk after the devastating fire at the nearby Glasgow School of Art (Picture: John Devlin)
The future of Glasgow's Centre for Contemporary Arts is at risk after the devastating fire at the nearby Glasgow School of Art (Picture: John Devlin)
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Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts is a much-loved venue and a beacon of continuing creativity in the middle of the sadly diminished Sauchiehall Street.

As the Third Eye Centre, it opened its doors in 1975 and has survived through thick and thin. Last year, it hosted more than a thousand events and is home to a wide range of arts organisations in the city.

Now its existence is under threat in the aftermath of the disastrous fire at the Glasgow School of Art which has resulted in its closure with the prospect of re-opening again delayed.

The CCA’s plight was raised at First Minister’s Question Time by the Labour MSP and former arts minister, Pauline MacNeil, who revealed the CCA is still waiting for £25,000 it was promised from the fund established by the Scottish Government to compensate businesses affected by the fire.

READ MORE: In pictures: Sauchiehall Street fire

Nicola Sturgeon’s explanation was that the CCA had not been paid because “it already receives public funding as an arts organisation which has meant that more time has been needed to process its application for money from the fund”.

This is the kind of answer that demands further scrutiny. It reflects the stultifying bureaucracy and risk aversion which afflicts every public body in Scotland as the centralised grip has tightened. What exactly are these impediments?

It is now almost three months since the Art School fire and six weeks since the fund was announced. The idea it is impossible to get £25k out the door because the CCA already “receives public funding” defies credibility.

It is absurd the CCA’s continuing existence has been put at risk for want of such a modest lifeline. The wider lesson is that while there are always reasons for not doing things, common sense must sometimes dictate urgency.

READ MORE: Glasgow’s art school has ‘moved six inches’ since tragic blaze