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Arts organisations spared in Scottish draft budget

The Scottish Government’s draft budget for 2018/19 has set out measures to protect funding for arts organisations, despite earlier warnings that subsidy was likely to be cut.
Under proposals announced today (December 14) by cabinet secretary for finance and the constitution Derek Mackay, the overall culture budget for will be £166.8 million, an increase of almost 10% on 2017/18 figures.
Creative Scotland’s budget will include an extra £6.6 million every year, specifically aimed at maintaining support for its regularly funded organisations in the face significant declines in UK National Lottery receipts.
The Scottish arts body had warned in October [1] that both the number of RFOs funded – currently 119 – and the level of funding they receive were both likely to be reduced in the 2018/19 budget.
The newly announced budget does not contain an increase in funding for Scotland’s five national performing organisations, which include the National Theatre of Scotland and Scottish Ballet. These will continue to share £22.9 million a year.
Janet Archer, Creative Scotland’s chief executive, welcomed the draft budget announcement, saying that the increase in culture spending “underlines the Scottish Government’s commitment to the pivotal role that culture and creativity plays in people’s lives across Scotland”.

Archer gave particular acknowledgement to the a 21.2% increase in Creative Scotland’s discretionary Grant in Aid budget, to offset the declining income from the National Lottery.

She added: “We also welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to a three-year budget which will help us provide more certainty for those that we are able to support.”

The Creative Scotland board will meet on January, 18 to set the draft budget for 2018/19 and to finalise decisions on regular funding for the three-year period, 2018-21.

Fiona Hyslop, the cabinet secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs, said: “Against the backdrop of the UK government’s austerity regime, I am pleased that we were able to increase our support for Scotland’s culture sector to ensure it can continue to thrive.
“We have been working relentlessly since early this year to mitigate the impact of the reduction in UK Lottery money. I am delighted we are able to step in and increase financial support for Creative Scotland and to provide £10 million for the new screen unit which will be set up in Creative Scotland.”

Last month, Hyslop and Scottish sports minister Aileen Campbell called on their Westminster counterpart Karen Bradley to develop a plan to address falling Lottery income. [2]