Massive U-turn from Creative Scotland after funding row

After their contentious Regular Funding awards made last month, Creative Scotland reinstated long-term funding for five arts organisations, including theatre companies Catherine Wheels and Birds of Paradise

Article by Jamie Dunn | 06 Feb 2018
  • Cathrine Wheels - Ugly Duckling

After weeks of controversy following Creative Scotland’s recent round of Regular Funding announcements, in which long-term funds were cut from vital arts organisations, the funding body has agreed to reverse some of its most disputed decisions.

In total, 20 Scottish companies lost their Regular Funding when Creative Scotland announced the long term funding awards for 2018-2020. An emergency board meeting was called following the fallout from the decision, which saw several of the companies make public statements urging Creative Scotland to reconsider their decision, including innovative children’s theatre company Catherine Wheels, who wrote an open letter to creative Scotland signed by 150 theatre-makers and performers, and pioneering artist-led Glasgow gallery Transmission, whose board wrote a scathing response to their funding cuts.

Catherine Wheels are among the five organisations who have had their funding reinstated, along with three other theatre companies – Birds of Paradise, Lung Ha and Visible Fictions – and a classical music ensemble, Dunedin Consort. Another company, Stellar Quines, who received a 22% reduction in their Regular Funding sum in this round of awards, will have their new budget increased to match their funding three years ago.

Ben Thomson, Interim Chair of Creative Scotland, made the a statement following the decision, which we’ve replicated below via The Herald.

"Funding decisions of the scale and importance of Regular Funding are always extremely challenging,” said Thomson

“We have listened to the extensive and constructive feedback we received from many individuals and organisations working across the arts and culture in Scotland.

“We have reviewed our budget for Regular Funding and, within the limits of the alternative funds available to us, we have been able to re-allocate £2.6m over three years, allowing us to include five further arts producing organisations in the network.

"We have also reaffirmed our commitment to other funding, which will include touring; equalities, diversity and inclusion; and new support for artist led work.

“I would like to acknowledge the dedication of Creative Scotland staff throughout this process. I would also like to thank the Scottish Government for replacing funding lost to Regular Funding through falling National Lottery income enabling us to support more organisations through Regular Funding than ever before.

“However, I also appreciate that, even now, these decisions do not address all of the issues currently being raised by individual applicants. I am sorry that, in this process, some will be disappointed by our decisions.

“Everyone at Creative Scotland is committed to working positively and collaboratively with those involved in arts and culture in Scotland, whether in the Regular Funding network or not, providing support to build on the success of a thriving sector.”

There is no mention of Transmission Gallery and the 14 other companies, who include multi-arts organisation NVA, Ayr Gaiety Theatre and Edinburgh Festival City Theatres Trust, who are still without Creative Scotland's Regular Funding. This may not be the end of this story for the underfire funding body.