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Petition launched after Creative Scotland budget cut by £6.6million

This news post is 10 months old

The government had previously made budget promises earlier this year. 

Charities and campaign groups have reacted with outrage following a Scottish Government u-turn on a multi-million pound funding commitment for the arts sector. 

Funding of £6.6million has been cut from Creative Scotland’s budget despite promises from the government in February.

A petition, written to Culture Secretary Angus Robertson, urges the SNP-Green government to “keep your promise to restore arts funding in Scotland”. 

Creative Scotland, the public body responsible for investing in Scottish arts and culture, were facing the huge cut earlier this year before ministers responded by abandoning the cut and instead heralded a “£6.6 million uplift” which they described as “supporting the arts and cultural sector at this challenging time”. 

However, just seven months on this decision has been u-turned again, and Creative Scotland now face a funding black hole, which it has been claimed could put 2,000 jobs at risk. 

Creative Scotland's 120 Regularly Funded Organisations (RFOs) directly employ 5,000 workers, support 25,500 individual artists and provide millions of opportunities for people across Scotland to engage with the arts and culture.

Creative Scotland will use National Lottery funding reserves to plug the gap, with the Scottish Government claiming the funding would resume next year.

Creative Scotland wrote in a statement: “Creative Scotland recently made a submission to the Scottish Parliament Culture Committee’s ongoing inquiry into culture budgets in Scotland - read the submission on the Scottish Parliament website

“We are extremely disappointed to report that the £6.6m budget has not been included in the Autumn Budget Revisions.

“This has been confirmed in writing by the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Angus Robertson, in a letter to our Chief Executive, Iain Munro on 20 September.

“This relates to Grant-in Aid funding that we receive from the Scottish Government and that we use to support 119 cultural organisations across Scotland through Regular Funding.

“Given the extensive messaging and advocacy regarding the pressures on culture budgets and risks to the culture sector that we, and many others have been making, this is a concerning development.

“Whilst the unprecedented pressures on public finances are understood, we are disappointed that the Scottish Government has taken this decision. However, Creative Scotland is acting swiftly and pragmatically to help stabilise the situation in the short term.”

Creative Scotland appeared before the Culture Committee at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, September 28, to give evidence as part of the Committee’s ongoing inquiry into culture budgets in Scotland.

CEO Ian Munro told MSPs: “Reimposing this cut, just two weeks before regularly funded organisations were due to receive their quarterly payments would amount to a forty per cent reduction.

"It's enormous in terms of an already fragile sector. This would have been a tipping point."

The petition, created by the UK-wide organisation Campaign for the Arts, calls for the government to honour its pledge from earlier this year. 

They also demand that the government “scrap any proposal to cut Creative Scotland funding from the 2023-24 Autumn Budget Revision”, and “commit to maintaining and growing investment in arts and culture from 2024-5, for the benefit of everybody in Scotland”.

The petition reads: “This is absolutely no way to treat Scotland’s arts and culture, let alone in a perfect storm of economic pressures and post-pandemic challenges.

“This u-turn on a u-turn puts treasured venues and companies, thousands of jobs and access to Scottish culture at risk.”

The petition has been backed by thousands of individuals, charities and campaign groups who have shared their own disappointment in the decision. 

Culture Secretary Angus Robertson told the BBC the government had to prioritise value for money for every taxpayer in Scotland.

He said: "Over the past five years, the Scottish Government has provided £33m to Creative Scotland to compensate for a shortfall in National Lottery Funding and we agreed to provide £6.6m to cover this year's shortfall.

"As a result of rising costs and pressure on budgets across government, made more challenging as a result of rising UK inflation, we are unable to provide funding to support the lottery shortfall this year.

"However, I expect this funding will be able to be provided as part of next year's budget, subject to the usual parliamentary process."