Creative arts facing ‘deep challenges’ to meet demand, MSPs told

Scottish Government funding needs to be more than doubled to enable it to transform Scotland’s cultural sector, the head of arts body Creative Scotland has said.

The organisation’s acting chief executive Iain Munro warned of “deep challenges” regarding current funding and demand.

He was giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Culture Committee, which is holding an inquiry into the future of arts funding in Scotland.

The inquiry was announced following the committee’s scrutiny of Creative Scotland’s handing of the Regular Funding round of 2018-21, in which it concluded the current system was struggling to meet demand for arts and culture funding.

The arts body received heavy criticism over its funding decisions last year and chief executive Janet Archer resigned in July.

Mr Munro told MSPs Creative Scotland currently gets around £63 million in direct funding from the Scottish Government, which he said is equivalent to 0.2% of the Government’s overall budget.

He said: “We realise the pressure of these other areas of public budgets but less than 0.2% of the overall Scottish Government budget feels that its not in tune with the actual potential here in terms of the creative industries being a growth sector for Scotland.

“Realistically to get up even up to 0.5% would be transformational enough in itself, which would take us up to £160 or so million.”

He added: “We’ve got a very supportive Scottish Government and Cabinet Secretary and I’m very grateful for all that they continue to do to recognise culture and creativity and the resources that are there.

“But it is very clear to us that given the demand that we see coming through the organisation every day and the limitations on our resources and indeed the frustrations we have about our desire to fund even more.

“Enhanced resources would definitely enable a transformational effect within what culture and the creative industries means to the country.”

He said Scotland is broadly on par with per head spending in this area with the rest of the UK but is behind Ireland, Norway and Sweden.

Mr Munro added: “I think there are deep challenges there in terms of the available resource versus the very clear demand.

“We’re at a quite a sensitive tipping point because of the contraction of other resources that are available within the equation, local authorities in particular.”

He said key lessons from an evaluation Creative Scotland commissioned on its 2018-21 Regular Funding process were calls for a longer funding period and how to deal with organisations which have applied for funding but been turned down.

Mr Munro said there was criticism the funding process is too “onerous” and a blanket approach was not appropriate and suggested it could be split into two stages.

He added there would a debate around organisations considered too important to Scotland’s cultural life to fail.

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