Leading Scottish playwright David Greig has called for Creative Scotland to suspend its planned shake-up to its funding strategy, saying that the quango is “haemorrhaging” trust as a result.
CS announced earlier this month that its flexible funding stream will be removed in April 2013. After this some umbrella organisations will receive an annual “service level agreement” – while the majority of independent companies will receive “investment based on proposals”. There is widespread concern from the Scottish arts sector about the changes to the flexible funding stream, which will have a major impact on the independent theatre sector.
In an open letter, Greig said: “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.”
CS have held a series of closed meetings about the changes and Greig says that this is “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.”
The playwright added: “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.”
Responding to Greig’s letter, CS said: “Each organisation has been offered a meeting to discuss the outcome of the review and talk through their next steps. Part of this will be looking at the organisation’s programme of work (which can last up to two years), planning their future investment and explaining our expectations around the investment â€“ for example, a commitment to equalities and public engagement.”
Specific concerns raised with the quango included whether it would concede that there is a problem with the proposed changes. It was also asked if it was able to reassure people that their companies would not be “punished” if they speak publicly on the matter.
The CS statement continues: “The intention to replace flexible funding was part of our corporate plan, published last May, and subsequently at open meetings with the creative sector. We are continuing with our planned feedback meetings with organisations to discuss future and sustainable investment and organisations are free to express their views.
“We’re making more money available and, in that context, believe that programme-based investment in a range of companies will be successful, both for the companies involved and for the people of Scotland, who are the ultimate audience for the work.”