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Creative process

Pauline McLean | 17:30 UK time, Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Happy New Year! And the process of creating Creative Scotland continues to drag as slowly in 2009 as it did in 2008.

Now more than 400 artists, performers and writers want to see the scheme abandoned altogether.

According to crime writer Val McDermid, novelist Louise Welsh, actress Alison Peebles and more than 400 writers this new body shouldn't be born at all.

In a petition to MSPs, they're calling for the whole merger to be abandoned. They say the cost of the merger - which has still not been formally confirmed - could lead to cuts in any grants they receive.

"Whilst many of us have been critical of the existing institutions, Creative Scotland does not offer improvement on the current provision managed by the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen, and will impact negatively on Scotland's international reputation," says the petition.

Which comes as close to an endorsement of the Scottish Arts Council as you're likely to hear.

But despite rumblings behind the scenes - with staff in both Scottish Screen and the Scottish Arts Council's respective headquarters unsure of what will happen next - it seems the troubled merger will still go ahead.

Having been voted down by MSPs last June, it's due to be reintroduced as part of John Swinney's Public Services Reform Bill later this month. And according to the Scottish Government, they're not for turning.

"The Scottish Parliament voted unanimously in favour of the establishment of Creative Scotland as a statutory body," said a Scottish Government spokesman.

"And we will proceed with the democratic legislative route, not least to enshrine the important arms-length principle on arts funding."

"The culture minister has agreed to meet a number of representatives from across the sector to hear and address their concerns about the transition process and remit of Creative Scotland."

But she may not have heard the end of the debate. According to the organisers of the artists' campaign, they hope to gather further support and stage more events to highlight the issues.


  • Comment number 1.

    Perhaps if we didn't spend £17 million plus of tartan cash in trying to keep one of many italian paintings in the UK, we might have a few more baw-bees to spend on encouraging true SCOTTISH art.

  • Comment number 2.

    That is true; With the New Year brings old problems...

    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 3.

    Scottish Screen at the very least does need reforming.

    For starters, it's very hard to actually get a grant from them for film production. With all their grants (and there aren't that many to choose from), they require you to get X amount of funding from someone else before they will give you any money. Frequently this is around 50% if not more. Quite ridiculous if you're only wanting a couple of thousand for a short film - where are you meant to get the other half of the money?

    Also, Scottish Screen has become a bit of a clique with a lot of people who receive the funding tend to have been previously employed by Scottish Screen.

    The third problem with Scottish Screen is the use of the money they receive from the government. Scottish Screen fund numerous different schemes and training, etc. What they don't seem to take into account is that they are spending all their money on getting people into a position to work in the film industry in Scotland, but because of their grant limitations, there aren't that many jobs being created in the industry. Hence not many films and programmes are made up here, so people tend to move south.

    It would be much better for Scottish Screen to divert more of their money into film production, particularly for new writers and directors to encourage new blood, and spend less on propping up so many courses, setting up new businesses, work in schools, etc. If a country like Norway can manage a film industry almost wholly funded by the government, why can't Scotland go some way towards this?


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