Grim reading for arts funding body

Performer on Royal Mile on last day of the Fringe festival
Image caption Some artists are performers had been critical of those running Creative Scotland

If last night's Creative Scotland awards in Glasgow's Kelvingrove Museum were the highlight of the week, today brings the hangover.

Two reports commissioned by the board of Creative Scotland some months back after a very public row with hundreds of artists make for grim reading.

The first deals with lottery funding - the very issue which started the row.

Despite anxiety about the use of lottery money to replace public funding, the report concludes that blending of grant aid and lottery money will continue.

It says the principle of only using lottery money for additional funding will continue - and that all schemes will be carefully managed to protect that principle.

Strategic commissioning will end and the funding structure will change - at least the names will, the chain itself looks similar to the previous model.

As the board confirmed last week, there'll also be a move towards three-year funding programmes for as many organisations as possible.

The second report - based on 76 individual interviews and a number of written submissions - confirms some of the points raised by the hundred artists who signed an open letter to the board.

It quotes examples where arts organisations were directed to staff with no expertise in their area, and were often directed to the wrong funding stream.

By the time the correct funding stream was pinpointed, they'd often missed the deadline.

It wasn't just the artists who were frustrated, either.

The report flags up "an almost universal belief that a gulf had opened between the activities of some members of the senior management team and the rest of the staff."

Staff felt undervalued and under-utilised and had no forum to express that.

Staff cutbacks

Language was thought to be too commercial and corporate in tone. And while the report found a need for accountability, it also said it had to leave space to experiment.

It blamed the lengthy delay in setting up an effective IT system for some of the problems, as well as staff cutbacks which had left a much smaller team working on a much larger canvas (creative Scotland combined the old Scottish Arts Council with Scottish Screen).

Broadcaster Ruth Wishart who led the team who compiled the report said it was important to end of a positive note - quoting playwright David Greig, who said "routes forward matter more than root causes".

She said her group had encountered considerable enthusiasm, commitment and genuine desire to resolve the difficulties.

She also says that despite the unrest, the arts in Scotland have never been in better creative health.

Now it's over to the board, who last week released a seven point plan based on the reports' findings.

In it they promise to have more consultation - the report calls for public forums for both artists and staff. They say they'll use expertise and knowledge better and make the grant process simpler and more transparent.

They ask for time to get the process underway, and the lack of public protest outside last night's awards suggests artists are giving them that.

The bigger challenge will be changing the culture as well as the structures, and that won't happen till a new CEO is appointed.

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