Ashley Smith-Hammond

Our monthly summary of news from Scotland's cultural sector. We take a look back over the fallout from Creative Scotland’s Regular Funding decisions. We also open up the good news files to share all of your great work.

Funding fallout

So February has been choc full of cultural news, but most of it has been fallout from Creative Scotland’s Regular Funding decisions. If you weren’t in the thick of it, here’s a brief summary of what happened.

Week One: the RFO decisions were announced at the end of January, and there was an immediate outcry about those who lost funding. The main points of controversy were around: 

The Culture Secretary also weighed in on Twitter.

Week Two: an emergency Board meeting was called and two Board members resigned. A week later, Robert Wilson was appointed as the new Board Chair. Ongoing public (and private) conversations, amplified by open letters and petitions, questioned Creative Scotland’s handling of the situation.

Week Three: Creative Scotland allocated an additional £2.6m to the RFO pot. They increased the award to Stellar Quines and added five organisations (Birds of Paradise, Catherine Wheels, Dunedin Consort, Lung Ha and Visible Fictions) into the RFO portfolio. The other fifteen organisations that lost funding did not have their funding decision reversed.

Week Four: Creative Scotland was asked to appear before MSPs to explain what happened. Janet Archer gave evidence to the fourth meeting of the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee on 22 February 2018. Her remarks (full text available here) opened: “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.”

We can’t let that happen again.

Artists have responded with a new petition calling for an artist-led National Arts Forum, which is in the process of being formed. The group have asked that any Culture Committee decisions or discussion are delayed (approximately 12 weeks) until the Forum has met and decided upon its first representations to government.

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN OUR PARTNER NETWORKS

At Culture Republic we’re all about the 4Ds – data, digital, demography and diversity – and we love to see our partner organisations putting these ideas into practice. So much so, in fact, that we highlight some of the best examples in this article each month…

New data shows that Scottish visitor attractions received over 30 million visits in 2017, a 9.7% increase over the previous year. Of those that recorded the highest visitor numbers, the National Museum of Scotland and Edinburgh Castle received over 2 million visitors each, the first year that such a feat has been achieved.

Meanwhile, the City of Edinburgh Council has responded to audience data revealing falling visitor numbers to its museums by rethinking its decision to cut opening hours. It was also recently announced that a date has been set for the reopening of Edinburgh’s Museum of Childhood.

The Fringe have released data that indicates the importance of the local audience to the Fringe’s annual success. The Fringe also highlighted the growing costs for audiences and artists of attending the festival.

Congratulations to Stellar Quines, who have been nominated for an award at the Fantastic For Families Awards.

In a great initiative to take the art to audiences, Edinburgh International Book Festival have announced that they are taking some of their most high-profile participating authors to Glenrothes festival for a three-day pop-up event.

Speaking of Glenrothes, The Scotsman has a profile of an exciting programme to create digital stories that celebrates the town ahead of its 70th anniversary. The initiative was delivered by our friends at the Scottish Book Trust and Fife Cultural Trust.

Students at our partners the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland have worked with Solar Bear to create accessible performances for D/deaf audiences. Culture Republic have previously worked with the Royal Conservatoire in this very area, as you can see in the video below.

And finally, a couple of videos for you to watch that highlight some of our partners’ great work with children. First is the Fringe’s collaboration with Granton Primary School and creative artist Ursula Kam-Ling Cheng to bring some colour to the Fringe shop. Second is the King’s Theatre’s pantomime designed with Edinburgh’s special schools in mind.

Got a story of putting data into action, improving accessibility or digital transformation that you’d like to share? Become a partner or contact us today and we can feature your good news.

KENT FACES AND CONGRATULATIONS

Congratulations to Imaginate – winners of one of this year’s Stage Awards. Congratulations also to all those nominated for the Scottish Awards for New Music:

Joanne Orr is stepping down as Chief Executive Officer of Museums Galleries Scotland after 13 years in post.

Donald Shaw is stepping aside as artistic director at Celtic Connections, taking on a new role as creative producer for the festival.

Adura Onashile and Frances Poet have joined Traverse Theatre as Writer in Residence and Creative Fellow respectively.

Natalie Usher will step down as Creative Scotland’s Director of Screen in March.

In new-or-improved infrastructure news, Kings Theatre have secured £5 million from the City of Edinburgh Council for the refurbishment of its theatre. The council also announced further money to improve Edinburgh’s cultural infrastructure, including the repair of the old Leith Theatre and a new concert hall in the city’s New Town.

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