Nicola Sturgeon praises Makar for criticising arts funding in Scotland

Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon said the role of national poet involves putting those in power on the spot

Nicola Sturgeon has praised Kathleen Jamie, Scotland's Makar, after the poet criticised arts funding north of the border.

The former first minister said the role of national poet was partly to "ask tough questions and put people in positions of power on the spot". It comes after Ms Jamie, an award-winning poet and essayist, called arts funding in Scotland “dire”.

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In September, she posted a video on social media in which she read from her poem Shoestring, which references the treatment of the arts. Earlier that day it had emerged a funding cut of £6.6 million had been re-imposed on Creative Scotland.

Nicola SturgeonNicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

Ms Sturgeon announced her resignation as Scotland’s longest-serving first minister in February, with her successor Humza Yousaf taking over at the end of March. The SNP has been in power in Scotland since 2007.

Speaking during an in-conversation event with the poet Michael Pedersen at The Queen's Hall in Edinburgh on Tuesday evening, Ms Sturgeon said: "Kathleen just very recently did something that Makars should do, and people in the arts should do generally, which is poke government and really, really hold government, in a non-partisan way, to account.

"The sort of stooshie recently over cuts to Creative Scotland's budget and the impact on the arts and everything – she posted a poem, I don't know if she had written it especially for that or for something else, but it was really, really sharp and to the point.

"Makars are there to celebrate the country, to make the country think about itself – what it is, who it is, what it represents – but also to ask tough questions and put people in positions of power on the spot.”

The Scottish Government was previously accused of an “extraordinary betrayal" of the culture sector for reinstating Creative Scotland's cut. The SNP has since pledged to “more than double” arts spending in Scotland within five years.

Ms Jamie became the fourth person to be appointed Scotland’s Makar in 2021. Edwin Morgan was the first to take on the role in 2004, followed by Liz Lochhead and Jackie Kay.



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