Scotland's arts funding needs 'urgent' overhaul

Ballet dancer Image copyright Getty Images

The funding of arts in Scotland needs an "urgent" overhaul, according to Holyrood's culture committee.

In a report, the MSPs said said the current funding model does not give adequate support to individual artists.

The committee urged the Scottish government to spend a minimum of 1% of its budget on the arts.

A spokesman for the government said it would "carefully consider" the report and "respond in due course".

It is the first Scottish parliament inquiry into the arts funding system as a whole.

The culture, tourism, Europe and external affairs committee took evidence from a range of artists and stakeholders, and examined arts funding models in other countries as part of its proceedings.

Issues presented ranged from fair pay for artists and venue maintenance to the idea of a basic income - a set monthly income regardless of means - which could be made available to artists.

Creative Scotland row

A majority of respondents commented on the national funding that is distributed by Creative Scotland.

Creative Scotland's budget is made up of a grant in aid from the Scottish government and income from the National Lottery, which Creative Scotland distributes through its National Lottery Distribution Fund.

Although grants distributed by Creative Scotland have generally increased over the last decade, the proportion funded through the National Lottery has decreased since 2014 - largely due to a decline in National Lottery income.

Last year two Creative Scotland board members resigned in a row over arts funding.

Image caption Ayr's Gaiety Theatre is one of the organisations that has previously lost out on regular funding

Ruth Wishart and Maggie Kinloch were believed to have stepped down in protest at the lack of time given to discuss which groups should be funded.

An inquiry by a Holyrood committee concluded that Creative Scotland's funding system fell "well below" the standard expected of a public body.

Creative Scotland's chief executive Janet Archer later stepped down, giving no reason for her departure.

Current chief executive Iain Munro said the body was taking the evidence from the report into consideration as part of its current strategic update and funding review.

'Compelling evidence'

MSPs on the culture committee warned that the Scottish government's culture budget was "vulnerable to funding pressures" and called for a more sustainable system.

They urged ministers to give serious consideration to the next culture strategy being supported by a funding budget above 1% of the Scottish government's overall budget.

Committee convener Joan McAlpine said: "The overall aim of this report was to put the focus of the arts funding system on the artists themselves. The committee heard compelling evidence that significant action is needed to achieve this.

"Public funding of Scotland's arts and culture will only become sustainable if artists are at the centre of policy and paid the fair wage they deserve.

"The committee has therefore called on the Scottish government and Creative Scotland to take urgent, robust action to ensure this becomes the case."

Deputy convener Claire Baker MSP added: "A sustainable arts funding system is one where the Scottish government and local authorities work in partnership to support creativity in all parts of Scotland, and there is a need to reset this relationship."