Scotland politics

Bid for Scottish film studio 'being considered'

Still from Outlander Image copyright Nick Briggs
Image caption The television series Outlander was filmed on location in Scotland

Scottish Enterprise has confirmed it is considering a bid for a privately funded film studio in Scotland.

If successful, it said the proposal would exceed the original development brief with one of the highest soundstages in the UK.

Terms are expected to be agreed with the private developer within the next eight weeks.

The Culture Secretary revealed to the Economy, Energy and Tourism committee that negotiations were under way.

The agency had previously been considering five different public options - including one in Glasgow and one in Cumbernauld.

Lack of facilities

There has been criticism from people working in the film and television industry that Scotland is lagging behind other parts of the UK, and losing out on business, because of a lack of facilities.

The Scottish government set up a Film Studio Delivery Group in 2013 which invited bids to create a studio in Scotland.

The tendering process has now closed and Ms Hyslop told MSPs a privately-backed bid was being considered by Scottish Enterprise.

She was responding to a question from SNP MSP Joan McAlpine, who said the idea of a Scottish film studio had been around since the 1940s.

Ms McAlpine said: "You have set up a delivery group. Do you think you will be the government that finally delivers?"

Ms Hyslop said: "Yes. I'm determined that we will."

She added: "There is a new proposal that is being considered by Scottish Enterprise. It does exceed the development brief that was initially set out last year.

"There are active discussions in terms of what I set out."

Image caption Fiona Hyslop was giving evidence to the Economy, Energy and Tourism committee

The Culture Secretary said it was reasonable to expect a plan to be in place before the end of this parliament, but added "not all the cards are in my hand".

Her appearance came after a £2m tax credit loan fund to lend money to productions in Scotland was announced.

A £1m screen sector skills fund to provide training and skills development for people already involved in the sector and young people considering a career in screen was also outlined.

Both funds, which will be controlled by the public body Creative Scotland, will run for a year from April.

The Scottish Conservatives welcomed the funding, but said it was "long overdue".

Culture spokeswoman Liz Smith MSP said: "Scottish film has been making the strongest possible case for additional funding for a very long time but, until now, these calls have fallen on deaf ears.

"In 2013, the SNP made huge play of the fact that it was setting up a £2m loan fund to assist the industry but it then transpired that not a single penny of this fund had been spent. Serious questions remain about why that was the case."

'Major concerns'

Ms Smith added: "For several weeks now, the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee has been examining evidence from the creative arts industries and it has become clear that there are major concerns around funding and the Scottish government's vision for the arts, including Scottish film.

"The cabinet secretary cannot fail to acknowledge the criticism she heard at today's committee. It is a wake-up call which she cannot ignore."

The new funding follows criticism of Creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise.

SNP MSP Richard Lyle told Ms Hyslop one of his constituents described Creative Scotland as "a shambles".

Ms Hyslop said she did not recognise the term "shambles", but said: "We are capable of delivering, but we need to scale up what we're doing.

"I recognise we need to continually improve relations with agencies and the sector as a whole and I welcome the committee shining a light on the industry."

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