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Creative Scotland plans emergency meeting following criticism of funding cuts

Janet Archer, chief executive of Creative Scotland
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Creative Scotland is to hold an emergency board meeting next week in response to the criticism of funding decisions for 2018-21.

Criticism has been particularly vociferous of Creative Scotland’s removal of regularly funded status from children’s theatre company Catherine Wheels and disabled performer-led company Birds of Paradise.

In a statement, Creative Scotland chief executive Janet Archer said the organisation had been “listening carefully to everything everyone is saying”.

“We’re doing that through one to one meetings with organisations and direct correspondence.

“Given the strength of views being presented, we will be bringing forward the Creative Scotland Board meeting, originally scheduled for February 15. At this meeting, we will be taking stock of the decisions made regarding organisations not included in the regular funding network, and the options available,” she said.

On Monday more than 50 disabled campaigners including TV stars, MSPs and charity executives signed an open letter to Archer.

It said: “The fantastic work undertaken by Birds of Paradise and [theatre company] Lung Ha in recent years has supported emerging disabled artists, promoted disability, equality and ensured the stories of disabled people form part of Scotland’s diverse arts scene.

“We urge you to reconsider these decisions and, in doing so, demonstrate leadership in ensuring the arts remains inclusive for all – including disabled people.”

Also on Monday, a group describing itself as the community of technicians and theatre production staff across Scotland wrote to protest against the decision to cut funding for Catherine Wheels.

It said: “The potential loss of employment, vital network and support system awarded by Catherine Wheels is too important for the Scottish cultural sector to risk losing.

“The knock-on effect of Catherine Wheels’ practice and ethos is wide. It embodies the spirit of what we, as technical staff, need from an RFO by acknowledging its privilege, and supporting and sharing all it has with the wider network. Its role as a positive influencer and benchmark of good practice across the sector cannot be underestimated.”

On Tuesday, Stage Directors UK also added its response, noting its “disbelief and anger at the recent Creative Scotland funding decisions”.

“Scotland has traditionally led the way in funding artist-led touring companies as well as more expensive building based companies,” it wrote.

“The majority of cuts have hit the touring sector (not the buildings), which are predominantly director/artist lead theatre companies. Of 11 touring companies in the portfolio, 7 have been cut completely.”

In her statement, Archer stressed the board meeting would “not affect any of the 116 organisations, or the transition arrangements, already announced as part of the network”.

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