Let those who know run the show

FREED from the battleground of the Scottish Arts Council and Commissar-style edicts from "central planning" control freaks, Scotland's flagship arts companies have got on with the job of doing what they do best.

They performed to more than a million people in their first two years of being directly funded by the public. The five main companies – the National Theatre of Scotland, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet – have turned in good audience figures to belie the charge that they appeal to only "elitist" audiences and need to conform to some twisted notions of social inclusion.

A Scottish Government report cites the success of international tours of the NTS hit play Black Watch, the RSNO's collaborations with artists including Elvis Costello, video games composers and Scottish Opera's festival production of The Two Widows.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The highly regarded Scottish Chamber Orchestra produced the best financial return, playing to audiences of almost 80,000 with an annual grant of just over 2 million, while the NTS won audiences of 150,000-plus against a core grant of 4.3m. Scottish Opera received the biggest grant of 8m because of the cost of opera production. But good management and an acclaimed programme brought in audiences of 82,000.

Set limits, but letting the companies get on with it seems a plan that works.