Funding cut warning for Scotland's culture sector

Ballet dancers
Ballet dancers

A £6.6m funding cut has "considerably damaged" the confidence of an "already fragile" culture sector, according to MSPs.

A Holyrood committee report published on Tuesday said financial pressures continued to cause problems for the sector.

It comes after the Scottish government reimposed the £6.6m budget cut on arts body Creative Scotland.

The organisation will use National Lottery reserves to plug the gap.

The £6.6m cut had been reversed earlier this year after a campaign by people working in the Scottish arts but it was reintroduced in September's autumn budget, with ministers pledging to make up the shortfall in the 2024/25 budget.

The board of Creative Scotland then agreed to use their National Lottery reserve fund. They advised ministers that it was their only source of additional funding.

The constitution, Europe, external affairs and culture committee's report said the continuing pressures risk "becoming more severe" and it expressed an "urgent need" for the Scottish government to restore the confidence of the sector.

The committee said further clarity was required on how the use of reserves impacted the level of funding available to manage Creative Scotland's transition to a new multi-year funding programme.

New investment

The committee also welcomed the recent announcement from First Minister Humza Yousaf that ministers would "more than double" the investment to the arts and culture sector, increasing funding by more than £100m.

But the report said details of the increase must be outlined in the 2024/25 budget announcement in December.

Committee convener Clare Adamson MSP said: "The first minister's recent commitment to increase the Scottish government's investment in arts and culture by £100m over the next five years comes as the committee has been hearing from stakeholders across the culture sector of the significant financial challenges it continues to face.

"We heard that the 'perfect storm' facing the operating environment of the sector has not abated over the last 12 months, with external and public funding pressures maintaining; and that there has been very limited progress made on implementing innovative funding solutions to support the sector.

"Given this context, there was an urgent need for the Scottish government to restore the confidence of Scotland's culture sector," she added.

A Scottish government spokesman said its investment in arts and culture would increase so that in five years it will be £100m higher than it is now.

"However, due to the cost crisis, we have had to make difficult choices to live within our largely fixed budgets. Our ability to respond to the cost crisis is limited by the inactivity of the UK government and the financial restrictions of devolution," he said.

"We will continue to do everything within our powers and resources to help those in the culture sector most affected by current economic challenges."