Creative Scotland pledges action to ensure fairer treatment for arts workers

Scotland's national arts agency has pledged to do more to ensure fairer treatment of workers when funding decisions are made in future.

Creative Scotland has promised to step up efforts to increase the diversity of people working in the cultural sector.

Helping to tackle the climate crisis by ensuring the cultural sector becomes more sustainable has also been set as a key priority for the next few years.

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Ahead of a major funding shake-up expected to be rolled out from next year, the quango has promised to use its resources and influence to "raise standards, promote skill and develop talent in a sustainable and fair way".

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is at the centre of an ongoing debate about the treatment of people working in the arts in Scotland. Picture: David Monteith-Hodge

The pledges were made by Creative Scotland chair Robert Wilson, who has just been reappointed in the role for another four years.

Scotland’s biggest event, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, has faced demands for change from activists and union leaders to ensure people working on shows and venues are treated better.

Fringe Society chief executive Shona McCarthy last week declared there will be “absolutely no place” for exploitation of people working at the festival in future.

Creative Scotland has admitted the pandemic “showed the inequality that exists within the arts, screen and creative industries", particularly freelances, with low pay and uncertainty of employment both commonplace.

Robert Wilson has been reppointed for a second term as chair of Creative Scotland.

Its latest annual action plan states: “As the sector recovers, if opportunities and budgets remain restricted, there is an evident risk that should this inequity not be recognised and acted upon, the working terms and conditions of many could deteriorate yet further.

“We want to help ensure that sectoral renewal is built upon applying the principles of fair work.

"By this we mean playing our role in helping to create the conditions for more meaningful and sustainable opportunities to work across, and progress through, the sector.

“This includes ensuring that every individual or organisation we fund provides terms and conditions which are demonstrably fair, whilst advocating for the importance of these principles being applied universally.”

Writing on Creative Scotland’s website, Mr Wilson said future funding programmes would be designed to better meet the needs of cultural organisations.

But he added: “We will be focused on addressing the challenge of fair working practices in the culture and creative sector and using our funding and influence to raise standards, promote skills and develop talent in a sustainable and fair way.

"Alongside this, we’ll maintain a focus on equalities, diversity, and inclusion at the heart of everything we do.

"I continue to be committed to increasing the diversity of those who receive our support and benefit from it.

“We all want to see more people from all parts of society accessing culture and creativity as part of their lives."

Mr Wilson said Creative Scotland was considering how best to address the climate emergency, which he described as “the most significant challenge facing humanity”.

He said: “We’re in the final stages of developing a ground-breaking climate emergency and sustainability plan.

"This will deliver a step change in terms of how we, as an organisation, and the culture and creative sector, can work collectively to address the climate challenge that faces us. It will shape how we operate and how we work with others for years to come.”

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