Scottish government “prioritises” culture with reduced cuts to national companies in 2014/15

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The Scottish government has published its draft budget for 2014/15, with a reduced top line cut of £2.1 million to Scotland's five national performing companies.

According to the draft budget published at Holyrood on Wednesday, the companies will receive £23.5 million between them, down 8.2% from £25.6 million in the current financial year but £300,000 more than predicted in last year's budget.

However, the Stage understands that these so-called level 3 figures are for capital and revenue funding. They mask a much smaller reduction in the companies' operating budgets as major capital projects such as the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall come to completion.

Level 4 figures seen by the Stage, which indicate the funding for individual companies and are due to be published in a fortnight, reveal that revenue funding will fall just 0.43% from £23.3 million to £23.1 million, against a previously planned reduction of 1.73% to £22.8 million. Details of these figures will be made public on September 26, when they go before the executive’s finance committee.

Laurie Sansom, artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland, told The Stage "We welcome the positive impact that the reduced budget cut for 2014/15 will have on the National Theatre of Scotland. This will allow us to invest even more in the development of artists and audiences in Scotland.

"The Scottish Government has given significant and tangible demonstrations of support towards the arts and culture which, in times of challenging budget decisions having to be made, is testament to the creativity that is flourishing in the country."

Besides the NTS, the companies receiving the funding are Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet, the RSNO and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Other elements of the £150.6 million culture portfolio have fared slightly better. Creative Scotland will get £51.7 million , a cut of £800,000, and there will be an increase of £400,000 to the cultural collections, to £75.2 million. The latter is largely as a result of an increase in the capital budget from figures predicted in the 2011 spending review.

Fiona Hyslop, the cabinet secretary for culture and external affairs, said: “In the face of deep cuts in public spending imposed by the UK government, we have prioritised the culture and external affairs budget to minimise the impact on the cultural and heritage sector as far as possible, deliver vital capital projects and take forward key international priorities.

“This budget underlines our unwavering commitment to creating the conditions for cultural and creative excellence to flourish and supporting a sector that is so fundamentally important to our quality of life and identity as a nation. Once again, we have shown that our promise to artists and creators is profoundly more compelling than the future offered by the UK government and their blinkered focus on ‘pounds and pence’ above all else."

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