Monday, 19 January 2009

Creative Scotland : Parliamentary motion

As a direct outcome of the signed letter to MSPs, there has been a Parliamentary motion on The Future of the Arts in Scotland:

*S3M-3166 Cathy Peattie: The Future of the Arts in Scotland — That the Parliament notes the letter circulated on 5 January 2008, with 440 signatories, expressing apprehension about the formation of Creative Scotland and the effects on artists' welfare and practice, including the view that the situation regarding Creative Scotland has now reached crisis point; notes that the letter highlights a perceived lack of concern for artists' needs and UNESCO declarations on culture and freedom, a lack of meaningful consultation with the arts communities during the transition process, an inadequacy of funding and an impact on artistic independence of proposals that include an exploitation of intellectual property rights and an introduction of loans coupled with a cut in grant aid; recognises that this is the latest in a series of criticisms of the Creative Scotland proposals and believes that this lack of confidence in the formation of Creative Scotland is shared by many others; considers that the proposals for Creative Scotland have failed to convince many people that they offer any significant improvement on the current provision of support for artists and the development of, and entitlement to, culture in Scotland and moreover that many consider that they will have a negative impact on our arts and culture, and believes that the Scottish Government should take on board these criticisms and not proceed further without reviewing its plans, consulting widely and seeking consensus on a positive and constructive way forward for the funding and development of arts and culture in Scotland.

Robin Harper MSP has confirmed in writing he has signed Cathy Peattie's motion. (We will collate and make public all MSP's responses to the letter asap.)

The Scottish Artists Union has been trying to meet with the Culture minister, Linda Fabiani for 18 months, and has been consistently ignored. The letter to MSPs & the press, alongside other SAU members' individual letters, prompted the following question to be asked in parliament with Fabiani publicly conceding to meet with the SAU:

Scottish Parliament, Thursday 8 January 2009

Scottish Artists Union (Meetings)

7. Ken Macintosh : To ask the Scottish Executive whether the Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture plans to meet the Scottish Artists Union to discuss the establishment of creative Scotland. (S3O-5419)

The Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture (Linda Fabiani): I am currently arranging meetings with various groups to discuss the establishment of creative Scotland. The Scottish Artists Union is, of course, welcome to participate.

Ken Macintosh: I think that I am pleased to hear that response, although I would certainly be pleased if the minister responded to the clear expressions of concern from Scotland's artistic community about the establishment of creative Scotland. Before or following her meetings, will she clarify exactly what reduction in support Scottish artists can expect to receive from an organisation with a standstill or smaller budget but greater responsibilities?

Linda Fabiani: I remind Ken Macintosh that, last year, I announced to the Parliament £5 million for new and innovative funding for the arts and creativity under creative Scotland.

On the extent to which the Scottish Parliament will be allowed to scrutinise the proposals for Creative Scotland, see:

Question Time — Scottish Executive — Europe, External Affairs and Culture : Creative Scotland Bill

Rhona Brankin : To ask the Scottish Executive what plans it has to bring a creative Scotland bill back to the Parliament. (S3O-5398)
I am sorry, Presiding Officer—I meant to say "back to Parliament".

Linda Fabiani : It is always best to be exact, Presiding Officer.
As announced in Parliament on 3 September 2008, we plan to legislate for creative Scotland's principles and functions in the proposed public services reform bill.

Rhona Brankin : I would be grateful for an exact response to my supplementary. Will the minister indicate the costs of establishing creative Scotland? Are reports that they have soared to £7 million accurate? Does she share my concern that those rising administration costs will result in money being diverted away from front-line arts spending? Indeed, is it not the case that the Scottish National Party has squandered the support for creative Scotland that had been built up by the previous Administration and has completely lost the artistic community's confidence?

Linda Fabiani : We are finalising the transition costs, which will be presented to Parliament at the appropriate time. That is as it should be.

Ted Brocklebank : Given the difficulties that the minister experienced during the passage of the Creative Scotland Bill in explaining to the Parliament which agency would be responsible for disbursing funding to the arts in Scotland, can she now tell us whether Scottish Enterprise or creative Scotland will be the lead agency in funding arts bodies?

Linda Fabiani : What is important to the Government and recipients of funding is having a transparent system for disbursing such funds. We are working with partners to create the best possible system for giving funding to creators in our country.

Iain Smith : The uncertainty and confusion over creative Scotland's future is entirely the result of the Government's incompetence. Will the minister explain why the Government is determined to go behind Parliament's back by establishing creative Scotland without returning to the Parliament to address our funding concerns? When will she come back to Parliament to answer the serious concerns that were raised when the Creative Scotland Bill's financial resolution was rejected last summer? Why is she unwilling to proceed on a cross-party basis? Why did she refuse my request for a cross-party meeting to consider the best way forward for creative Scotland?

Linda Fabiani : We will agree to differ on the difficulties of presenting plans for creative Scotland to Parliament last year. I contend that the Opposition lacked understanding, which forced the bill's failure.
It is perfectly right to bring our plans for creative Scotland back to Parliament in the public services reform bill. As Opposition members have said, we do not need to go down the legislative route, but legislation is important, not least to establish the arm's-length principle for the arts, which had never been mooted until our Administration produced the Creative Scotland Bill. Parliamentary scrutiny will take place when the public services reform bill is introduced.

And, given the disingenuous government statement in response to the letter...

"The Creative Scotland limited company will take forward the practicalities of merging the existing organisations.
"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.
"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."

[In fact 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.
At which point the culture minister, Ms Fabiani, had not agreed to meet, and has never met with, the Scottish Artists Union; the only politically and fiscally independent representative organisation for visual and applied artists in the country -- and they still await any specific invitation. Nor has the minister responded to the letter, to meet with artists, or otherwise.] might be interested in the news that "The Scottish Parliament's presiding officer has ordered an inquiry amid continued claims that ministers have been misleading parliament." Probe into Holyrood comments row:

1 comment:

East Dunbartonshire SSP said...

Bill Newman, from the Scottish Socialist Party, has published a short article on the fiasco that is "Creative Scotland"