Creative Scotland's response to hardcore porn film scandal is unacceptable

Giving public money to a film involving real sex should have prompted profuse apologies. Instead Creative Scotland is adopting a defensive approach that is only making things worse

It was an extraordinary revelation. Arts-funding body Creative Scotland had given £85,000 to a film featuring hardcore sex scenes. After this became public, the grant was revoked amid political uproar. Displaying the kind of judgment that sometimes deserts his party colleagues, Culture Secretary Angus Robertson said there was “no way” the film, Rein, should have received funding.

This might have been the end of the story had Creative Scotland responded in the obvious way: apologising profusely and promising lessons had been learned. Instead, the scandal is growing legs because of the defensive and, at times, unintentionally funny attitude of those at the top.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Last month Iain Munro, Creative Scotland’s chief executive, defended claims they had not known the film would feature real sex despite the funding application explaining there would be “a sex scene with genital contact with three of the cast”, “explicit sexual content” and tests for sexually transmitted infections. There was also a mention of “lubricant”, although perhaps Creative Scotland’s finest assumed a bicycle with a rusty chain was central to one scene.

Now Robert Wilson, chair of Creative Scotland’s board, has told MSPs that while they took the concerns “very seriously”, the board was “unanimously supportive" of Munro and his senior team; there was no “systemic problem” over decision-making; and Creative Scotland had been “fully transparent within the confines of legal processes, FOI legislation and our statutory requirements”.

In contrast, the SNP's Clare Adamson, convener of Holyrood’s culture committee, told him that “much of the controversy could have been avoided by Creative Scotland being more open and transparent”, while Scottish Conservative deputy leader Meghan Gallacher hit the nail on the head: “At a time when public funds are being stretched to their limits amidst a cost-of-living crisis, the least the public deserve is an admission from Creative Scotland that mistakes were made, as well as reassurance that this sort of error won’t happen again.”

Creative Scotland’s inability to realise this casts doubt on their judgment. Given their job is to exercise good judgment, this scandal now raises serious questions about whether they can actually continue to be entrusted with public money.

Comments

 0 comments

Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.