Letter to Creative Scotland
Dear Creative Scotland,
Thanks for getting in touch. At the moment I’m just trying to reflect and explore what I’m finding on the ground: that the Scottish cultural community are unanimous in thinking the proposed changes to flexible funding are a mistake. Personally, I think it’s a well intentioned mistake but it does seem to be a mistake nonetheless. I have been exploring this issue with colleagues, on Twitter and Facebook, and I’ve talked with journalists but so far I’ve found no one – artist, producer, journalist, writer, musician – who is in support of the changes. So, I think a starting point would be for CS to publicly recognise that there is a problem.
The relationship between the cultural sector and CS was tentative previous to this situation. Trust was fragile but it was being built. That trust is now haemorrhaging day by day. An immediate suspension of this decision and the announcement of a re-think would go a long way to staunching that loss of support. I’m sure such an admission would be accepted as genuine. Private meetings with companies – or indeed with me – are a slow and ineffective method of repairing a sector wide loss of trust. A suspension of the policy would a very effective way to communicate your good intentions.
I am also worried because I have found CS funded artists and producers are afraid of commenting publicly because they fear they will be left exposed in future funding decisions. They may be wrong about this perception but it is a very present and clearly spoken fear. I think you need to address this. Is it possible to reassure people that their companies will not be ‘punished’ if they speak publicly.
Lastly, I think it’s important you recognise there’s been a failure in the tone of CS communications to the cultural sector. Comments about ‘entrepreneurship’ and a reliance on jargon have been very badly received. Scottish Cultural workers feel they are part of a success story, making world class work on thin resources. This is not a career to us, this is our life. By approaching the sector as a problem, or as recalcitrant, or as slow thinking luddites you have immediately put them on the defensive. You need artists to be open in order that together you can explore imaginative ways to respond to the funding issues. I think a change of tone is vital in order to convey to the sector Creative Scotlands basic, deep down, support of Scottish culture, Scottish artists and Scottish audiences.
I’m not sure it’s appropriate for me to meet Andrew Dickson in person. I’m an individual writer, not an official representative. I’m happy to participate in a public debate if one is organised but I’d much rather you simply suspended the decision and let the proper debate take place between yourselves, the flexibly funded companies, the FST, the SSP and all the other relevant parties.
I hope that’s helpful.
Thanks again for getting in touch.