A collective voice for literature and languages in Scotland

Creative Scotland opening remarks to Culture Committee (22 February 2018)

Below are the opening remarks from Janet Archer, CEO of Creative Scotland at today’s evidence session to the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee: “Sustainable funding for arts and creative organisations in Scotland”

Watch the recording of the session here.

Good morning everyone and thank you to the Committee for inviting us to give evidence this morning.

We’re here to talk about sustainable funding for arts and creative organisations in Scotland.

Creative Scotland’s most significant means by which we provide this is via three-year Regular Funding. Our first round spanned 2015-18 and our guidance for the second round 2018-21 was published in November 2016. The process and guidance for Regular Funding was tested with sector representatives who worked with us to test them prior to us going live.

I want to start by saying I’m profoundly sorry that the delivery of this process has been such a negative one for many. We can’t let that happen again. My role as Chief Executive of Creative Scotland, is to take ultimate responsibility for everything that Creative Scotland does. I am currently in dialogue with everyone involved at every level in the process and I will make sure we learn from this moment and resolve all outstanding issues fairly and openly.

I’d like to offer some context in which I hope the committee will find helpful.

Regular Funding is an open application process, this time we had 184 applications and have funded 121. Overall we have committed to spending £33.9m on Regular Funding, £1m more a year than previously. Due to a £6.6m uplift from the Scottish Government for which we are very grateful, Regular Funding is no longer reliant on the National Lottery. We previously utilised £6m of National Lottery funding to regularly fund organisations.

Many of you are aware that between September and December last year, like other public bodies, we were scenario planning against some very difficult budget predictions.

In the end the budget settlement was much better than we expected. It’s important however to recognise that the 21% uplift we communicated, is made up of £10m for screen, set against hard economic targets, and £6.6m to replace the lost Lottery income for the arts as I’ve already outlined. That means our RFO budget effectively remains at standstill.

Despite this we have been able to support 121 excellent organisations, across Scotland and across art-forms for the next three years. At one point last Autumn we thought we might have only been able to fund half this amount.

The network includes 19 organisations new to Regular Funding, such as the Alchemy Film Festival in Hawick; Bodysurf Scotlandin Moray; Starcatchers, Scotland’s National Arts and Early Years organisation; Lyra, based in Craigmillar, in Edinburgh Toonspeak which provides free, high quality drama and theatre activities for young people aged 11-25 living in Glasgow; Theatre Gu Leor, the acclaimed Gaelic Theatre Company; and Tinderbox Collectivebased at North Edinburgh Arts.

Making funding decisions is never easy, nowhere more so than in Scotland where creative talent and ambition far outweighs the funding we have available, particularly in the context of increasing reliance on Creative Scotland funding, as alternative sources of support come under increasing pressure. I fully understand that even on standstill funding some organisations are really struggling. As stated in our arts strategy, we are committed to working with all organisations to support them to build resilience for the future.

Overall the applications we received totalled 33% more than our available budget. That created a real challenge for us particularly when organisations asked for an average of a 25% increase.

We have tried to help by supporting all organisations coming out of Regular Funding through providing transition funding of between six and 12 months at the same level they are currently funded at.

We are also in the process of meeting organisations to explain our decisions, and where they have been unsuccessful, discuss alternative routes to funding and how we might be able to support them in the future.

Regular Funding is one of our routes to funding, sitting alongside Open Project and Targeted Funding which includes Screen.  Over the coming three years, we expect to distribute circa £83m of Government and National Lottery funds a year across these three funding routes.

One immediate thing I want to tackle is to make project funding more straight forward to access especially for artists, individuals, and artists led organisations. We’re planning to announce how we will do this very soon.

I completely recognise that the Regular Funding process has been more challenging this time round than it needed to be – for both those applying and for our staff.

It’s clear that the introduction of the Touring Fund, while based on a review of touring which included consultation, did not chime with everyone in the theatre sector and is not seen as a replacement for Regular Funding. That’s one of the reasons that the Board decided to take stock, increase the budget available for Regular Funding and add organisations into the network.

We understand that this final stage of the process has created real difficulties, none of us want to repeat the experience, as it stands, in three years’ time.

That’s why, as we have already announced, we are committed to a root and branch review of how we fund. We will – importantly – do this in full collaboration with the people and organisations we support.

We welcome all of the constructive communications that we have received – of which there have been a significant amount – and much dialogue that has emerged. We are meeting with sector representative bodies – such as Scottish Contemporary Art Network, Federation of Scottish Theatre, Literature Alliance Scotland and others, whom we already work closely with – in the coming weeks to shape how we approach this review.

Finally, I want to recognise the dedicated, hard-working and knowledgeable staff at Creative Scotland who work every day to make a positive difference to art and culture in our country. Many have recently joined us after high profile careers in the sector. Others have built up immense knowledge over many years of service. They have worked thoughtfully and diligently on this Regular Funding round, dedicating a great deal of time, energy and care to the process.

We are all committed to doing things differently in the future, many ideas have been surfaced as we’ve been working through our difficult decisions and we’re looking forward to sharing these as we enter into dialogue over the coming months.

Thank you.

 

February 22, 2018

CPG on Culture: A Culture Strategy for Scotland

The next CPG on Culture will be held on Tuesday 5 September 2017, 5.30pm-8.00pm at the Scottish Parliament in Committee Room 2.

The meeting will look a Culture Strategy for Scotland.  A full agenda will be made available in due course, however we expect the meeting to follow the usual format:

•         5.30pm-6pm                  Social Discussion

•         6pm-6.30pm                  Panel Discussion

•         6.30pm-8pm                  Group Discussion

Unfortunately, due to room capacity we can only accommodate 60 non-MSPs at the meeting. We expect demand to be high so please RSVP to Kirstin.MacLeod@creativescotland.com to secure your spot.

Following the meeting, details of proceedings will be posted on the website

August 16, 2017

LAS letter to seek detail of National School Library Strategy

Following the inaugural meeting of the Scottish School Library Alliance in May 2017, it was agreed that each member would write a letter of support to the Public Petitions’ Committee seeking clarity from Deputy First Minister John Swinney on the detail of the proposed National Strategy for Scotland’s School Libraries. Our letter is posted below.

 

PETITION PE01581: SAVE SCOTLAND’S SCHOOL LIBRARIES

We have previously written on behalf of Literature Alliance Scotland to the Public Petitions Committee in support of petition PE01581 (Save Scotland’s School Libraries), and would like to submit our latest response below.

We welcome the positive comments from Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, John Swinney MSP, at the meeting of 20th April 2017, on his intention to formulate a National Strategy for Scotland’s School Libraries.

As Mr Swinney highlighted at this meeting, a professionally staffed school library plays a vital role in the lives of our nation’s young people, making a positive impact on education by improving literacy in all subjects and raising attainment across the curriculum.

Now that the Scottish Government has made this commitment to deliver a National School Library Strategy, we write to seek further clarification from the Deputy First Minister on the timescale for action, including detail on the Strategy’s development and delivery and the organisations to be involved in consultation. Literature Alliance Scotland also fully supports the petitioner’s proposal for National Standards to be established as part of a National Strategy.

Further, we endorse the offer from CILIPS, the Institute representing Scotland’s Library and Information Professionals and one of our members, to be involved with the development of a National Strategy and associated Standards and urge the Deputy First Minister to move forward in creating the Strategy at the earliest possible opportunity.

Yours sincerely,

Peggy Hughes, Chair & Donald Smith, Vice-Chair

June 9, 2017

LAS Letter to the Public Petitions Committee in Support of School Libraries

LAS sent the following letter to the Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament, which convened at the end of September with a new panel, in support of Duncan Wright’s petition on the need for a national approach to save Scotland’s school libraries and ensure access to a school library with a trained school librarian for every child in Scotland.

Letter of 21 September 2016 to Johann Lamont MSP, Chair of Public Petitions Committee

Dear Ms Lamont
PUBLIC PETITIONS COMMITTEE
PETITION PE01581: SAVE SCOTLAND’S SCHOOL LIBRARIES

On 19 December 2015, we wrote on behalf of Literature Alliance Scotland, to the then Chair of the Public Petitions Committee, Mr Michael McMahon, in support of the petition ‘Save Scotland’s School Libraries’, lodged by Mr Duncan Wright. We attach a copy of our letter of 19 December 2015, along with a list of the principal literature organisations in Scotland represented by Literature Alliance Scotland. We wish to submit the following additional comments.

Since we wrote in December 2015, we are gravely concerned that Argyll & Bute Council decided to dispense with all its school librarians in February 2016 and that, despite entreaties from all sides, most prominently from the children and young people of Argyll and Bute, the Council has not yet rescinded its decision and reinstated its school librarians.

Depriving the children and young people of Argyll and Bute, or any other part of the country, of their trained school librarians directly acts against giving them equal opportunities and equal rights. Trained school librarians are an essential part of a modern school. They transform the school library into a place of learning, where pupils can be helped in directing their own reading, learning and research.

Other countries understand the essential part that school librarians and school libraries play in young people’s education. Under the Swedish 2011 Education Act, pupils in Sweden are entitled to a school library staffed by trained school librarians: it is viewed as a child’s right. In Denmark, where its Education Act requires every school to have a school library, school libraries are becoming learning centres where the school librarian, the learning instructor, advises, trains and guides learners in an understanding and knowledge of books and digital information. If we are also ambitious for our children and young people, why would we not follow suit?

Literature Alliance Scotland strongly supports the current emphasis on closing the gap in opportunity between children and young people in different parts of the country, and the aim of giving every child equal life chances on which they can build. There can be no higher aim in seeking to build a fairer and more equal country. The results will help to determine the success that individual young people can make of their lives and will also influence the future success of Scotland. However, to succeed, we will need to work constructively together to avoid a situation where children’s chances continue to depend on where they happen to find themselves in the country, something over which they have absolutely no control.

We implore the Public Petitions Committee to take up the cause of school libraries in Scotland vigorously, and to urge the Scottish Government and the local authorities in Scotland to work constructively together to think about our young people’s futures and save Scotland’s network of school libraries.

Yours sincerely

Dr Ann Matheson, Chair,
Dr Donald Smith, Vice-Chair

Enc. Literature Alliance Scotland Membership

LAS Membership at September 2016
MEMBERS

  • Association for Scottish Literary Studies
  • Association of Scottish Literary Agents
  • CILIPS (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in Scotland)
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival
  • Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust
  • The Gaelic Books Council
  • Moniack Mhor
  • National Library of Scotland
  • Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust
  • Playwrights’ Studio Scotland
  • Publishing Scotland
  • The Saltire Society
  • Scots Language Centre
  • Scottish Book Trust
  • Scottish Language Dictionaries
  • SLAM (Scottish Literary and Arts Magazines)
  • Scottish Society of Playwrights
  • Scottish PEN
  • Scottish Poetry Library
  • Scottish Storytelling Forum
  • Scottish Writers Centre
  • Society of Authors in Scotland
  • Universities Committee for Scottish Literature
  • Wigtown Festival Company
  • Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (Scottish Region)
September 21, 2016