Monday, 22 December 2008

First Minister on Creative Scotland

Alex Salmond, is reported by the SAU as telling them "...that the only reason the previous bill failed was because of one small point of confusion over the new agency’s relationship with Scottish Enterprise."

Where as, the Creative Scotland Bill: Stage 1, Official Report of 18 June 2008, actually notes "the quite serious concerns on which the majority of the committee agreed".
"Indeed, other committees raised those concerns in their consideration of the bill. The concerns fall into a number of categories, including financial considerations; partnership working and the sharing and division of responsibilities; and the role of education, higher education and local authorities. However, those varied concerns can be summed up under the general comment that the bill lacks the detail that we on the committee and the people in the world of arts and culture expected to see.
"The most striking example of that was the financial memorandum that accompanied the bill, which was so poorly researched and lacking in detail that the Finance Committee commented that it was:
'the weakest that has been produced in the current parliamentary session'."
[Col 9847]

SAU - Posting Date: 19-12-2008

During our three days in residence at the Scottish Parliament, the Scottish Artists Union sought to focus the attention of parliamentarians on the government's plans to reintroduce Creative Scotland to their legislative programme. Neither the Minister for Europe, External Affairs & Culture Linda Fabiani, who failed to steer the Creative Scotland Bill through parliament in June, nor Secretary of Finance & Sustainable Growth John Swinney, who will introduce the new Public Services Reform Bill in January, made themselves available to our Executive Committee members.

However the First Minister Alex Salmond spent some time with us and seemed surprised by artists’ objections to the new agency. When SAU President Terry Anderson asked him whether he agreed Creative Scotland should remain a matter for scrutiny he stated "We've had that debate", and that the only reason the previous bill failed was because of one small point of confusion over the new agency’s relationship with Scottish Enterprise. It is this point alone that the new bill will address. However the First Minister said that its introduction will coincide with a wider cultural policy statement that he confidently predicts will allay the fears of the sector, fears he has been made well aware of by the SAU and others.

We await the details of the new bill and accompanying statement with interest, but meanwhile have identified MSPs from all parties who are deeply concerned about the way in which the government is handling the inception of Creative Scotland. The SAU will use this as a platform of support from which to oppose or amend the bill if the confidence of the First Minister proves unfounded.

The Executive Committee thanks all SAU members who forwarded examples of their work for use during these three days of parliamentary activity. We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

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