Creative Scotland must urgently address its strategic failings following a catalogue of criticism from Scotland’s creative sector, says Holyrood’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee.
The cross-party committee of MSPs say the organisation’s decision-making process on funding for touring theatre and dance companies fell “well below the standard expected” of a non-departmental public body.
In a 12 page letter to the Chief Executive Officer of Creative Scotland, the committee sets out the findings from its parliamentary inquiry into Regular Funding for 2018-21.
Committee Convener Joan McAlpine MSP said:
“We received unprecedented levels of representations from within the sector following Creative Scotland’s handling of regular funding for 2018-21.
“With more than 50 responses from artists and arts organisations, it is clear to us that the confidence of a significant element of the cultural sector in Creative Scotland’s regular funding process has been badly damaged.
“In particular we felt that the handling of the process in relation to touring theatre and dance companies fell well below the standard that is expected from a non-departmental public body.”
Deputy Convener, Claire Baker MSP said:
“The Committee has expressed serious concern over Creative Scotland’s Regular Funding for the 2018-21 period. We keenly await its written response to the issues we have raised and have set a deadline of 31 August. We will also invite representatives of Creative Scotland to appear before the committee again when Parliament returns from summer recess.”
Joan McAlpine’s letter to Janet Archer, Chief Executive Officer of Creative Scotland, is available on the Committee’s inquiry page.
Key findings and recommendations from the Committee’s inquiry include:
- The Committee considers it is a serious matter that Creative Scotland’s evidence about whether the Board was aware of factual inaccuracies contained in assessment reports before its emergency meeting on 2 February has been challenged by the written evidence received. The Committee invites Creative Scotland to review this issue urgently and to report back on its findings.
- The Committee is disappointed that the strategic issues identified by Creative Scotland were not recognised at an earlier stage so that they could be addressed before applications for regular funding were opened. The failure to do so left the sector in a very challenging position and has ultimately had an impact on a significant element of the cultural sector’s confidence in the regular funding process. . These issues must be urgently addressed by Creative Scotland so that a revised strategy is in place before applications for the next round of regular funding are opened. The Committee intends to scrutinise Creative Scotland’s plans for a refreshed strategy.
- The Committee considers Creative Scotland’s handling of the regular funding decision-making process in relation to touring theatre and dance companies fell well below the standard that is expected from a non-departmental public body. Creative Scotland should have made a decision about touring companies’ eligibility for regular funding before applications were opened and communicated its decision clearly to the sector. The failure to do so has meant that artists and organisations have committed staff and financial resources unnecessarily to complete regular funding applications. This approach has hampered the sector’s trust in Creative Scotland and added to ongoing uncertainty for the sector at a time when the funding pressures on the sector are already high.
- The cultural sector is concerned that too much regular funding is being directed away from artists towards network organisations. The Committee therefore invites Creative Scotland to consider an alternative model for the funding of network organisations going forward.