If you’ve been following the Scottish arts scene at all recently, you’ll have noticed that there’s a bit of a stooshie going on about Creative Scotland, the quango formed by a merger between the Scottish Arts Council and Screen Scotland. There’s been quite a bit of disquiet about the shift away from art-form specific funding to more general themed funding for things like “Cultural Economy“, and about a lack of clarity and excessive use of management-speak by the organisation.
There have been two main problems for the jazz scene that I know of. Firstly, there was the lack of funding which prevented Bridge Music putting on much jazz in Glasgow last autumn and this spring. Secondly, there was the decision to move a number of organisations from long-term funding to project-by-project grants. This looked likely to hamper the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s ability to plan long term development or to book the sort of international guests whose status means that their gig calendar is filled up long in advance. So serious was the situation that Tommy Smith briefly threatened to resign. Fortunately these two issues seem to have been resolved, at least for now, but there are still rumblings of discontent in the arts world about Creative Scotland’s performance to date. (In the interests of balance I should point out that they’ve helped fund recordings by Tom Bancroft, Martin Kershaw, Euan Burton and others, so they have had some benefits for the jazz world).
There’s currently an online petition calling for Sir Sandy Crombie, Chair of Creative Scotland, to act on the issues raised in a letter signed by more 100 artists from various fields (including Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, James MacMillan, Alasdair Gray and Bernard MacLaverty). I’ve been asked to bring it to people’s attention.
The petition asks
that The Board of Creative Scotland consider the following requests with the utmost urgency. We ask that you:
- genuinely acknowledge the scale of the problem;
- affirm the value of stable two to three year funding for small arts organizations;
- end the use of business-speak and obfuscating jargon in official communication;
- revisit CS policies with an eye to social and cultural as well as commercial values;
- collaborate with artists to re-design over-complicated funding forms and processes;
- ensure that funding decisions are taken by people with artform expertise;
- establish an effective system of dealing with complaints as swiftly as possible.
I’ll post some of my own thoughts on the situation here shortly. In the meantime, if you want to read or sign it, the petition is here.