Vital arts will suffer ‘wanton destruction’ under Creative Scotland’s plan
• Creative Scotland’s removal of core funding in favour of project-based investment will ‘destroy arts infrastructure’
• Artist Matt Baker made comments in written submission to MSPs scrutinising arts body
MSPs are scrutinising publicly funded Creative Scotland and will hear from its chief executive, Andrew Dixon, next week.
In a written submission, public artist Matt Baker, who will also appear before MSPs, drew attention to the funding model.
“The strategy seems to be to remove the core funding and instead support individual projects on the premise that this targeted support will allow/encourage organisations to become self-sustaining and independent of ongoing support,” he wrote.
“This strategy applied from a centralised national body, and without a complimentary package of other measures, cannot work and will cause wanton destruction of vital arts infrastructure in the country.”
Creative Scotland will have an income of more than £80 million in 2012-13. It caused controversy by scrapping its Flexible Funding programme in favour of yearly or project-based investment. Mr Baker, whose work includes the Three Virtues in Inverness city centre, said the body needs to devolve its structure and harness the “quiet revolution” taking place at grassroots level.
Regional officers could get a feel for local work, consultants should be avoided and thought should be given to applying a “percentage for arts” rule in local council planning legislation, Mr Baker suggested.
Despite his observations, he says there is “much to applaud in the bravery” of an apparent attempt to affect dramatic change in public support for the arts.
His comments follow criticism of Creative Scotland by a celebrated writer and poet. Don Paterson, who received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2010 and teaches at St Andrews University, questioned the point of the funding organisation, which he said is the product of a “shocking SNP policy vacuum”.
Mr Paterson made his comments in an essay to be published in a book in November, with extracts reported yesterday. He also criticised the Scottish Government’s Year of Creative Scotland campaign.
“We must abandon all foolish, short-term, PR-driven, empty and self-conscious celebrations of our own creativity, more appropriate to and becoming of a county the size of Rutland than a real nation,” he said.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The celebration of the year has embraced more than 5,000 events and activities all over the country.
All of these have benefited from extensive marketing and PR activity by VisitScotland.”
A Creative Scotland spokeswoman said it will have a range of investment programmes: “Our future priorities include reviewing our investment models, conducting in-depth reviews of each cultural sector, understanding the scope and influence of the cultural economy and understanding the role of geography and place.”
VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay said: “Culture and traditions feature in the top ten reasons to visit Scotland and our teams are working hard to exploit all the opportunities to their full potential.”