MSPs told Creative Scotland is creating 'anxiety and distress'

Creative Scotland chief executive Janet Archer will give evidence to MSPs on Thursday.
Creative Scotland chief executive Janet Archer will give evidence to MSPs on Thursday.
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MSPs have been told that Creative Scotland has created “instability, anxiety and distress” over the way it funds arts organisations, venues and events.

Evidence submitted to Holyrood has accused the quango of “moving the goalposts” before key decisions were made, putting the future survival of companies at risk and showing a “lack of care or understanding” over equality and diversity issues.

Submissions to the parliament’s culture committee, which will quiz chief executive Janet Archer tomorrow, from bodies representing hundreds of different groups and organisations say the quango’s recent cuts have been “viewed with disbelief around the world.”

They claim say the quango caused “confusion, anger and increased stress” by telling companies whose funding has been cut to new “strategic” funds which did not exist yet.

Creative Scotland was forced into a partial climbdown over cuts to 20 companies following the intervention of culture secretary Fiona Hyslop.

Read more: Creative Scotland forced into funding review after climbing down over cuts

Two board members quit ahead of an emergency meeting ordered amid claims that the quango’s decision-making process had been “flawed.”

The latest claims have emerged just days after open letter protesting against Creative Scotland’s stewardship of Scottish culture demanded the Scottish Government gives artists and organisations more of a say in how key funding decisions are taken.

Read more: Artists demand greater say from Scottish Government after Creative Scotland cuts

A submission to MSPs from the Sector Network Contact Group said the current system had led to organisations reliant on Creative Scotland funding being effectively “put on notice every three years.”

It has called for a major shake-up of funding strategies to ensure they are “co-produced by artists and the creative community, with shared ownership.”

The quango came under fire last month for targeting theatre companies who work with children and disabled performers and women for 100 per cent cuts as part of a shake-up on how a £99 million cash pot is spent.

The Federation of Scottish Theatre told MSPs: “Their removal from regular funding seriously threatened the survival of not just these companies but the sector as a whole, and was viewed with disbelief around the world.

“This is the Year of Young People and that Creative Scotland has published commitments to equalities, diversity and inclusion - the reasons for these decisions and the apparent initial failure to understand their wider impact remain hard to understand.”

The Scottish Contemporary Art Network’s submission states: “There is almost unanimous agreement from artists, organisations and Creative Scotland itself that the current funding models urgently need overhauled.

“The length of time the process takes is unnecessary and debilitating, with final decisions coming less than three months before the financial year, effectively undermining the operation of many organisations as a going concern.”

Ms Archer said: “We have committed to improving the way that we fund in the future and making it work as effectively as possible for everyone.”