Scotland’s theatremakers pen open letter to Creative Scotland

The funding body is under fire from the Scottish theatre community after the recent Regular Funding announcements left a number of high-profile theatre companies without funds

Article by Jamie Dunn | 31 Jan 2018
  • Jennifer Paterson and Andy Clark.

Last week Creative Scotland announced the arts groups who would receive Regular Funding as part of the body’s three years funding cycle. While the majority of awards from three years ago were matched, and 19 organisations received regular funding for the first time, 20 organisations found themselves without the often-vital long-term financing.

One of the most high-profile organisations stripped of funding in the shake-up was Catherine Wheels, a celebrated children’s theatre company based in Musselburgh’s Brunton Theatre. It’s proven a contentious decision, particularly as it comes in the Scottish Government’s official Year of Young People. Other theatre companies have also been stripped of funding, including Visible Fictions, disability theatre company Birds of Paradise and The Janice Parker Projects.

The Herald reported yesterday that Creative Scotland plan to hold an emergency board meeting to deal with the fallout from the recent funding decisions. "We are listening carefully to everything everyone is saying,” said Janet Archer, Creative Scotland’s chief executive. "At this meeting, we will be taking stock of the decisions made regarding organisations not included in the Regular Funding network, and the options available.”

Ahead of this meeting, 150 theatre-makers and performers have made their thoughts clear regarding Catherine Wheels’ funding cut, urging Creative Scotland to backtrack on their decision. The letter argues that "the role and influence of Catherine Wheels extends far beyond the core employees that make up the company and as freelance artists who have worked with the company, benefited from their expertise or simply been inspired by their work we wish to ask Creative Scotland to reconsider their decision.”

The letter goes on to state that Catherine Wheels’ importance to Scotland’s theatre scene – and in particular its importance to young people’s engagement with the arts – cannot be underestimated. “Catherine Wheels have spent 20 years honing the skills needed to support, nurture and inspire one of the most imaginative and thrilling audiences there is; young people and their adults.”

The letter concludes by saying: “As artists we would be much diminished both individually and as a community if we were to lose a company whose work has become a marker of excellence both within Scotland and on the international stage.”

The full letter can be read below, and comes on the heels of a similar open letter written in support of Birds of Paradise earlier this week: