Federation of Scottish Theatrelogo-fst-text

FST’s email to our Members sent on 2 October 2023:

Funding crisis 2023

As we reported on Thursday 28 September, immediately prior to our Annual General Meeting and Members Meeting, we are dismayed and confounded at the Scottish Government’s U-Turn on their stated commitment to reinstate the £6.6m cut to Creative Scotland, something we all fought so hard for earlier this year. While Creative Scotland have committed to the use of National Lottery reserves to ensure this cut will not be passed to artists and organisations, this action seriously undermines the Scottish Government’s positive claims about how much it values culture.

Scottish Government response
Angus Robertson, Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture made a statement in yesterday’s Herald on Sunday. In it, he states, “…the Scottish Government has been reviewing its commitments in the light of the changing financial circumstances, such as persistently high inflation and the impact this has had on overall costs and public sector pay settlements – following the economic and financial damage caused by Brexit and the austerity policies pursued by successive UK governments for more than a decade. Unfortunately, as a result of these rising costs, the Scottish Government is unable to cover the shortfall this year for Creative Scotland. However, I made a commitment to the Creative Scotland Board on September 20 that, if it approved use of its reserves this financial year to avoid passing the impacts of this on to the sector, I would look to provide the funding in 2024-25, subject to the usual Parliamentary procedures.” 

FST’s response
We have written to Mr Robertson, Shona Robison (Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Deputy First Minister) and Christina McKelvie (Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development). The letters are available to view on our website. Our outgoing Co-Chair, Liam Sinclair, Executive Director and Joint Chief Executive of Dundee Rep and Scottish Dance Theatre, gave evidence at the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee (CEEAC) on Thursday 21 September, following our written submission to the Committee. This was then picked up in Scotland on Sunday on 24 September, “theatre, dance and opera companies warn Scotland is on brink of ‘wilful demise’ of culture sector”. The session, and the following session on Thursday 28 September, which includes evidence from Creative Scotland and Culture Counts, can be viewed on the Committee’s website.

At Thursday’s Members Meeting, we heard the clear need for a co-ordinated approach, with any action requested from members to be proportionate and have a longer-term goal, given the current demands on everyone’s resources and the very real exhaustion and fragility of the sector. While not undermining the significance of this current crisis, FST will also remain focused on advocating for a sustainable future for the performing arts. As you may have seen from Culture Counts’ submission and evidence, we are recommending an increase to the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Portfolio budget for 24-25 at 30% of the 23-24 budget. The value of this uplift would be £104 million. Working with Culture Counts and other sector bodies, FST will work hard to exert pressure on the Government to build a route map towards this or a similar goal.

What worked last time and what can we do now?
In the immediate term, of course, we want a reversal of the £6.6m cut. As we understand it, what was successful in February was a combination of public petition, action by MSPs following the letters they received from us as constituents, media coverage, direct approaches to Ministers by sector bodies, individuals, organisations and unions.

Support the Campaign for the Arts petition 
Many of you will already have signed the Campaign for the Arts petition which, at time of writing, has 12,213 signatures. 

Sign Equity’s petition and join the Demo
The petition can be found here and the Demo takes place tomorrow, Tuesday 3 October at 12noon outside The Scottish Parliament.

Write to your MSPs
If you haven’t already done so, you could write to your own MSPs asking them to speak for you, your audiences, participants, and communities, as their constituents about the impact made by our sector, why it matters and why this U-Turn is disastrous in the short- and long-term for culture in Scotland. You can find them using www.writetothem.com or www.theyworkforyou.com.

You are welcome to use any of the information included in our letter or Parliamentary submission. See also the submission from Culture Counts.

Neil Bibby, MSP for West Scotland and member of the CEEAC Committee, who you might have met at FST’s Festivals Reception, has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament to put pressure on the Scottish Government “to keep their promise not to cut Creative Scotland’s budget by 10%”. He is asking that you contact your MSP to sign this motion.
Recent media coverage: 
The Herald: Angus Robertson defends £6.6m Creative Scotland Funding Cut
The National: Warnings for Scottish culture after £6m cut to arts body funding | The National
The Herald: ‘We have lost our international reputation for culture’ | The Herald (heraldscotland.com)
STV online: Creative Scotland ‘extremely disappointed’ after government’s £6.6m funding U-turn | STV News
Arts Professional: Scottish government criticised over ‘betrayal of culture sector’ | News | ArtsProfessional
MSN: Arts boss in warning after ‘one off’ use of reserves to plug £6.6m budget cut (msn.com)
Keep in touch!
As in February, feel free to copy us into correspondence or alert us to responses you receive. It was really helpful to know what activity was happening and the impact it was having. Thank you for all your hard work. Please contact me – fiona.sturgeonshea@scottishtheatre.org or harry.mould@scottishtheatre.org.

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