Scots authors '˜face political pressure' from Creative Scotland

A leading novelist today claims Scotland's national literature is 'in peril' with Creative Scotland setting a 'controlling' agenda.

Kirsty Gunn says: We need to be alert now to the tap-tap-tap of the bureaucrats computer keys telling us what to write and how." Picture: Geraint Lewis/REX/Shutterstock

Kirsty Gunn says there has been an “unofficial politicising” of literature by the Scottish Government agency, which is promoting an awards structure favouring Scottish-themed books ahead of art for its own sake.

In an essay published in today’s Scotland on Sunday, she writes: “I’ve come to see that our creative atmosphere is changing. We have a ruling party called the Scottish National Party, after all, and they have a whole host of institutions and outposts and advisory bodies that are hell bent on defining exactly just what Scotland’s culture is and should be.”

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She adds: “We need to be alert now to the tap-tap-tap of the bureaucrats’ computer keys telling us what to write and how.”

Gunn’s works include The Big Music, which explores the Highland bagpipe tradition. Yesterday Murdo Fraser, the Conservative candidate and author of The Rivals – a joint biography of the Marquesses of Montrose and Argyll – said: “There have been substantial concerns in the arts world over a period of time about the politicisation of public agencies like Creative Scotland, where there is conscious or unconscious dancing to a nationalist tune.”

A Creative Scotland spokesman said: “We never seek to influence what artists create. We do, however, have a duty as a distributor of funds from the Scottish Government and the National Lottery to support work that delivers benefits for the people of Scotland, whether that be artistic, social or economic.”