As uncertainty falls, our creative sector needs the support of us all - Scotsman editorial comment

We report today that 120 of Scotland's greatest cultural institutions are facing financial uncertainty stretching into 2024. That will be news of huge concern to many.

The decision by Creative Scotland to delay important funding decisions until then does not, mercifully, amount to a cut in funding, and has been made with the reasonable aim of helping Scotland's cultural sector stabilise after a very difficult few years. But a freeze in funding, in these inflationary times, also amounts to a loss in purchasing power, and makes it more difficult to form long-term plans, build partnerships and recruit and retain talented staff.

Moreover, the delay will not quell the concerns of many that cuts will, eventually, arrive. The fragility of the culture sector is clear for all to see: these places of inspiration and escape are being laid low by a painfully prosaic world around them. The same forces which are also harming their audiences, and their ability to come out to enjoy the arts, are pushing up their bills too.

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Covid was the first, mighty blow, closing their doors for months and creating enormous uncertainty and fear among audiences. For some, especially those nursing long-term health conditions, concerns about congregating in busy venues remain even today, and those worries have dented audiences. More recent concerns affect nearly all of us: rapidly increasing fuel prices and rising staff costs, driven by a war in Europe, squeeze profit margins on tickets. And add in the travails caused by Brexit and fiscal chaos in Westminster, and even the best-run venues and events are feeling the cold.

The sums involved are not - by the standards of the £50 billion annual Scottish public purse - enormous. Creative Scotland shares a little more than £30m between 121 organisations in Scotland. But it is clear that even small changes can make the difference between survival and closure. Alarm bells were set ringing only last month when the Edinburgh International Film Festival, and its associated Filmhouse cinemas, fell into administration. The sight of the Edinburgh Filmhouse cinema being put on sale earlier this week was a stark reminder that these institutions, once in trouble, can quickly be gone for good if new support cannot be found.

With many of Scotland's cultural powerhouses now facing what has been called a "perfect storm" of increased costs and declining revenues, we must not add our complacency to the list of problems they face. Earlier this week, members of Holyrood's Culture Committee called on the Scottish Government to consider culture funding with "increased urgency" because of the "fragile" recovery from the pandemic. The committee was correct: the sector deserves clarity on its support as soon as it can be formed. Moreover it also needs support from us all, to the extent that we can, to ensure they make it through the storm.

Eden Court Theatre in Inverness is one of the 121 arts organisations who will be affected by the latest Creative Scotland funding decision. PIC: CC.