Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Confusion on the matter of Creative Scotland continues...

In an article in The Herald on January 6th, a Scottish Government spokesperson is quoted as saying:

"The culture minister has agreed to meet with a number of representatives from across the sector to hear and address their concerns about the transition process and remit of Creative Scotland."

Ms Fabiani has not agreed to meet, and has never met with, the SAU, the only politically and fiscally independent representative organisation for visual and applied artists in the country. The spokesperson also said:

"The Scottish Parliament voted unanimously in favour of the establishment of Creative Scotland as a statutory body, and we will proceed with the democratic legislative route, not least to enshrine the important arms length principle in arts funding."

This is disingenuous. On June 18th 2008 the Scottish Parliament DID NOT vote unanimously for the establishment of Creative Scotland. To be precise, they voted in favour of the proposed Creative Scotland Bill passing Stage 1 of its course into law. There would have followed a further second stage of scrutiny during which, crucially, the bill could have been amended before a final vote. Later in the same session members disagreed over the passage of the bill's Financial Memorandum and split 49/68 for and against. A full account of business in the chamber on that day can be found at:

Anyone who reads this report can be in no doubt that the will of parliament was not four-square behind Creative Scotland in the summer of last year, and in the opening weeks of the new year our findings are that opinion among MSPs remains divided.

Later this month the Scottish Government will represent Creative Scotland within the Public Services Reform Bill and in terms that will deal only with its financing. In doing so are taking as read full parliamentary agreement to every article of the Creative Scotland Bill. They seek a short cut past the second stage of scrutiny and possibility of amendment that would have been brought to bear on the Creative Scotland Bill as a matter of course, had they not embarrassed themselves with their lack of clarity in the Financial Memorandum. Therefore their dedication to the "democratic legislative route" must be called into question.

The Scottish Artists Union maintains that in the interests of clarity and transparency as well as the continuing consultation that the entire arts sector is crying out for, Creative Scotland should not be included in the Public Services Reform Bill.

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