Following the announcement that £6.6 million in funding cuts to Creative Scotland are to be reimposed in a shock Government u-turn, this week Equity secured a debate at Scottish Parliament where politicians from all parties questioned the Government's decision to renege on their prior commitment made earlier this year.
Working with Neil Bibby MSP, who tabled a motion to parliament calling for the government to reverse the cuts, MSPs from all sides of the chamber spoke to the importance of funding the creative industries.
Equity opposes the proposed £6.6 million cuts to Creative Scotland announced by the Scottish Government, with STUC data estimating that the proposed budget cut would put at risk 5000 permanent jobs, along with more than 3500 freelance workers, which are supported by Creative Scotland’s 120-strong “regularly-funded organisations” network.
Many workers in this sector are freelance, and rely on short term contracts, which are more likely to be put on hold as a result of an uncertain funding environment. Publicly funded work in the creative sector regularly supports artistic projects that would not be commercially viable, but contribute huge social value, e.g: theatre in schools, library visits and projects, community art projects, social prescribing and health and wellbeing project work.
We welcome the announcement from the First Minister for a doubling of the budget for arts and culture in Scotland for the next five years – but such a commitment, taking place in the context of this cut, leaves significant uncertainty in the sector about long term planning and financial stability. In addition, key concerns remain about how this funding commitment will be delivered, and how it will support jobs and people in the sector, and not just the bricks and mortar of large institutions.
Despite the support we heard from across all parties, we are disappointed that the government defeated the motion in a narrow vote, rejecting our call to restore funding and instead amending the motion to focus on their as yet unexplained plan to double the arts budget. Starting their planned renewal of arts funding with an almost £7 million cut to core arts funding is not the right approach.
Equity is clear that a restoration of Creative Scotland’s funding is not enough. We need to see an increase of funding, distributed through a fair work model, where union terms and conditions are seem as minimum requirements to receipt of funding. We also need to see significant capital investment in Scotland’s creative infrastructure, to allow us to compete on the world stage and to continue to attract inwards investment for the creative sector.