Tuesday 16 December 2008

Creative Scotland thing I mentioned yesterday.... eca should draft a letter of support?

Artists warn of mass exodus if bill is passed

Posted by: "Variant" variantmag@btinternet.com   leigh5271

Sun Dec 14, 2008 1:10 am (PST)


Artists warn of mass exodus if bill is passed
Union urges MSPs to vote down legislation
By Edd McCracken, Arts Correspondent
Sunday Herald, December 14 2008

THE SCOTTISH Artists Union has warned that the country faces a mass
migration of its artists if Scotland's proposed new cultural body,
Creative Scotland, continues on its current course.

Members of the union will be at Holyrood this week to urge opposition
MSPs to vote down next year's Public Reform Bill, which includes
legislation for Creative Scotland.

Meanwhile, criticism of the troubled body's use of consultants has been
renewed, centring on its invitations to pitch for a contract to advise
on how to fund the arts in Scotland. One leading arts figure said it
was the job of the current staff to make such decisions, and this
latest development has left the sector "incredulous".

The escalation follows a meeting in Glasgow last Wednesday attended by
individual artists and organisations that do not receive core funding
from the Scottish Arts Council. The SAC is planned to merge with
Scottish Screen to form Creative Scotland. At the meeting, a "surge of
disquiet" emerged amongst artists, according to Terry Anderson,
president of the SAU. Their litany of complaints with Creative Scotland
include a lack of consultation, a cut in public money available for the
arts and the threat of loans being introduced instead of grants. If
uncorrected, the SAU say, artists may take flight.

"If the situation gets sufficiently bad, in the year of Homecoming you
could get an exodus of artists," said Anderson. "Artists will just go.
They will look to fresher pastures. Their work will go to other
economies better placed to support them. Ultimately, then, it will be
the people of Scotland that will be culturally impoverished."

"There is a growing awareness that younger and emerging artists are
often far better supported in France, Germany and many of the
Scandinavian countries, a model which we seem to be moving further away
from as neo-Thatcherite tendencies still look at "professionalising"
the sector, aping the output-driven market economy, rather than
offering professional support that is flexible to the real needs of
practising artists," said Angus Farquhar, creative director of NVA, the
ground-breaking environmental arts charity, who also attended the

Wednesday's gathering was organised by Guyan Porter, a Glasgow-based
artist and former president of the SAU. He said most artists hoped the
situation would improve, but have now realised they have reached
"crisis point".

He confirmed the artists are currently drafting a letter stating their
intent. It will be signed by leading artists in Scotland and from
around the world.

Porter also urged opposition MSPs to either defeat the Public Services
Reform Bill when it comes before them early next year, or insist on
amending the section relating to Creative Scotland.

"I've not found anyone who has said anything positive about Creative
Scotland," he said. "I think it is a wholly negative proposal. It has
to be voted down. Creative Scotland is almost anti-culture."

David McLennan, the creator of the A Play, A Pie and A Pint series at
Glasgow's Oran Mor, said the £34,000 contract to advise on what funding
mechanisms Creative Scotland should use was a waste of money. "There is
a level of incredulity about this in the sector," he said. "It is about
time people stood up and blew the whistle. The Scottish Arts Council,
Scottish Screen, the joint board and the Creative Scotland transition
team have to call in a management consultant if they need to go to the

Anne Bonnar, the transition director, said: "We are not pensions
experts, we are not legal experts. And there were certain aspects of
organisational design that we wanted additional expertise on. It is
important to give us a robustness about this work which is going to go
on and shape an organisation."


Creative Scotland is the proposed merger of the public bodies the
Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen. Culture Minister, Linda
Fabiani, recently insisted of Creative Scotland: “We all want to get
this up and running.” In truth, this apparent urgency conceals a major
ideological fault line between public and private provision in

Edinburgh College of Art (eca) is a charity registered in Scotland, number SC009201