SNP conference: Humza Yousaf promises to boost Scottish Government arts spending by £100m within five years
Humza Yousaf has pledged to increase arts and culture funding by the Scottish Government by £100 million by 2028, as arms-length agency Creative Scotland said it looked forward to more detail on how the money would be allocated.
The First Minister described the pledge as “a huge vote of confidence” in the future of the culture sector weeks after his Government came under fire for reinstating a 10 per cent funding cut for Creative Scotland.
And he suggested the move would “more than double” the amount ringfenced for the culture sector and arts.
However, the Government is currently spending around £175m on arts and culture in its budget.
It is understood the promised increase in spending does not include the £87m currently spent on Scotland’s national collections.
The government has refused to confirm if there will be further additional funding for the National Galleries of Scotland, National Museums Scotland and the National Library Scotland or if they will be allocated a share of the extra £100 pledged by the First Minister, who specifically mentioned Screen Scotland, Creative Scotland and festivals in his speech at the SNP conference.
It is not yet known what Creative Scotland’s share of the additional funding will be over the next five years, as the Government also provides direct funding to national museums, galleries and performing companies, as well as some cultural events.
A spokeswoman for Creative Scotland said the body welcomed Mr Yousaf’s commitment, adding: "We look forward to seeing more detail, and to working with the Scottish Government to address the significant and ongoing financial challenges that face Scotland's culture and creative sector, to ensure its continued success."
Arts organisations have been lobbying for more than a year for the Government to tackle a growing financial crisis, which has been blamed on rising costs, prolonged standstill funding, Brexit and reduced audiences since the pandemic.
The extra funding has been pledged weeks after Scottish cultural organisations joined to urge the Government to find another £104m to head off the prospect of widespread closures and job losses.
They have urged the Government to increase arts and culture funding to 1 per cent of its overall spending over the next few years, which would be around £250m more than it is at present.
The Culture Counts network, which represents arts organisations, festivals and attractions across Scotland, told Holyrood’s culture committee that Scotland is 28th out of 34 countries in Europe when it comes to arts funding per head.
Creative Scotland gets around £64m a year in annual funding from the Government, while a further £88m is ringfenced for the national collections, and £23m is allocated to national performance companies, including Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera.
Mr Yousaf said: “Our nation is rich in culture and the arts. “Culture is a reflection of who we are, and who we hope to be as a people.
“We don’t just value culture and the arts for the economic impact they bring, we value them for their own sake, for the joy they bring the world. I want to send a clear signal today about my ambition for culture in Scotland.
“We’re not just going to protect our arts funding.
"We’re not just going to increase it in line with inflation.
“We’re going to go further than that. I can announce that over the next five years we will more than double our investment in Scotland’s arts and culture.
“This means that by the end of the five years, our investment will be £100m higher than it is today.
"This is a huge vote of confidence in the future of our culture sector and in the vital work of bodies like Screen Scotland, Creative Scotland and our festivals.
“If politics is about choices, I choose to ensure that Scotland’s arts and culture are supported to grow at home, and be seen across the world.”
Culture secretary Angus Robertson said: “Our nation’s culture is a reflection of who we are, and who we hope to be as a people. Culture is one of Scotland’s key economic strengths and today’s announcement signals our ambition for our culture sector.
Mr Robertson added: “Through this increased investment we want to drive up opportunities for participation in creative pursuits, support the production of new works, and ensure that Scotland’s cultural output has platforms at home and abroad.”
Culture Counts director Lori Anderson said: “We welcome the announcement by the First Minister and the commitment to investing in Scotland’s arts and culture over the next 5 years.
"An additional £100m closely aligns with the amount that Culture Counts has been calling for on behalf of the culture workforce and audiences in order to secure a sustainable future for the culture sector and meet the strategic ambitions.
"We look forward to seeing the detail of this and would urge the government to direct it to where it is most needed and bring as much as possible of this investment forward into the budget for 2024-25, to prevent the tipping point that many of our much-loved organisations face next year.
"Our long-term goal continues to aim for 1 per cent of overall Scottish Government expenditure towards culture. This will bring us closer to the levels of investment across Europe, where the average is 1.5 per cent.
“Translating this renewed statement of ambition into long-term action has the power to reverse the impact of 13 years of real terms reductions, to help culture play the central role in the lives of people across Scotland that is much needed in difficult times.”
Jack Gamble, director of the Campaign for the Arts, which launched a petition protesting against Creative Scotland's 10 per cent funding cut, said: “Thousands joined our campaign to speak up for the arts in Scotland, and we’re delighted that the First Minister has listened. His commitment to ‘more than double’ cultural investment will benefit millions.
“Humza Yousaf is absolutely right to acknowledge that the arts bring joy and prosperity. After years of real-terms cuts and a further £6.6m cut this year, a change of direction is exactly what’s needed.
“However, to prevent closures and job losses, the Scottish Government needs to act fast. It’s crucial that the move to increase investment and rebuild trust begins with a meaningful uplift in December’s draft budget.”
A spokesman for the government said the current arts spending referenced by the First Minister came to £90 million and was made up of funding for Creative Scotland, national performance companies, and culture and major events staffing.
He added: “This does not mean the additional funding will only be spent in these areas. Decisions on spending for 2024-25 and future years are subject to the outcome of the Scottish Budget process and associated approval by the Scottish Parliament.
"How the funding will be spent will take time, but to reiterate it will drive up opportunities for participation in creative pursuits, support the production of new works, and ensure that Scotland’s cultural output has platforms at home and abroad.”
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