Creative Scotland puts off crucial funding decisions until next year

Crucial findings decisions affecting more than 180 of Scotland's leading arts companies and organisations have put back until next year, it emerged today.

Iain Munro, deputy chief executive of Creative Scotland, has told arts organisations they will now not know their fate until the end of January.

National arts agency Creative Scotland has revealed it will be unable to confirm funding deals for the next three years until the end of January - around a month later than envisaged.

The delay has been revealed weeks after the quango admitted it was likely to cut the number of organisations on regular funding deals despite a surge in demand for financial help.

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Others are expected to face a cut in support between 2018 and 2021 under a shake-up which could affect events like the Edinburgh International Festival, Celtic Connections and the Wigtown Book Festival, as well as venues like Dundee Rep, the Tron Theatre in Glasgow, Pitlochry Festival Theatre and Glasgow Film Theatre.

Creative Scotland has already blamed the prospect of looming cuts on dwindling National Lottery backing and pressure on the Scottish Government’s budget, which is not due to be set until 14 December.

Creative Scotland has now written to all 119 organisations which won a share of £100 million three years ago to alert them to the delay and warn that the eventual funding awards “may not be at the levels requested by organisations.”

The quango has already revealed it has received funding requests to the tune of £153 million from 184 separate organisations for the next three financial years.

However it has offered to help organisations cope with the expected upheaval by extending all current funding deals by two months, until the end of May.

Transitional funding support will also be offered to organisations which are stripped of their existing funding deals.

In a letter to all applicants for the next round of funding, Creative Scotland’s deputy chief executive, Iain Munro urges organisations to plan board meetings for “shortly after our announcement of decisions, to reflect on the outcome.”

Explaining the delay, he said: “The Scottish Government will publish its draft budget on 14 December 2017 and Creative Scotland will find out what its budget settlement is on, or shortly after, that date.

“At that point, we anticipate that further work will be required, regarding how the overall budget is allocated and the final profile of the proposed network of regularly funded organisations.

“We are committed to doing everything we can to announce these decisions as soon as possible after this but it is now clear that this will not be before Christmas.

“With this in mind, our planning now means we will announce decisions by the end of January 2018.

“As communicated previously, we expect funding for regularly funded organisations to reduce in future.

“This is in part because of the decline in income from the National Lottery and, as such, we still expect to fund fewer organisations than currently.

“It is likely to also mean that funding awards may not be at the levels requested by organisations, requiring time to negotiate revised plans and agree a funding contract.

“We therefore suggest that it may be helpful to consider planning a board meeting for your organisation shortly after our announcement of decisions, to reflect on the outcome.”

Lottery funding makes up around 40 per cent of Creative Scotland’s budget, but it slumped around 15 per cent between 2015-16 and 2016-17, and is said to have continued on a “downward trend” during the current financial year.

Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop has warned jobs and projects are being put under threat in both the culture and sports sectors by the slump in lottery income and have urged the UK Government to bring forward a “recovery plan” to help offset its impact.