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.
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/businessBulletin/bb-09/bb-01-06f.htm

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.]

...you 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: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/7830814.stm

Freedom of Information Requests

Freedom of Information Requests in response to Aileen Campbell MSP

(1) I would like to know who the Culture Minister has met with to date regarding the establishment of Creative Scotland, who these interested parties are and what interests they represent?

(2) Could the Culture Minister please provide a full schedule of who she is to meet and when regarding the establishment of Creative Scotland?

(3) You say that the "Government has increased the budget for culture by 14% in cash terms over three years", can you please back this up: what do you mean by 'culture' here (just what does it include); how was this funding distributed (if indeed it was all public funding), by whom and what was the conditionality; and how has this figure been calculated?

(4) Are the set up costs for Creative Scotland to come from its grant in aid budget? If so, what are these costs and what impact assessment has been done on the immediate loss of available funding for cultural provision in Scotland that will result?

(5) Will the additional running costs for Scottish Cultural Enterprise and other agencies' work not currently undertaken by Scottish Screen or the Scottish Arts Council come out of Creative Scotland's proposed grant in aid budget? If so, what are the costs involved, what is this additional work, how will it be done, who will do it, what will it cost? Is it proposed or envisaged that Creative Scotland take on any further additional 'enterprise' work in the future?

(6) What will be the level of grant in aid funding to Creative Scotland once the 'additional' Creative Scotland Innovation Fund stops after two years?

(7) Has there been any assessment of the impact of a fall in grant in aid for Creative Scotland on artists in Scotland, and the ability for the Scottish Government to sustain cultural provision in a prolonged recession?

(8) What other means is it proposed that Creative Scotland generate income, other than being in receipt of grant in aid? Has there been any assessment of how sustainable these mechanisms would be, and how Creative Scotland will generate income and sustain cultural provision in a prolonged recession?

(9) With regard to the Scottish Government launching debt onto artists: exactly what is the government proposing when the Culture Minister announced: “If formed, Creative Scotland will add to the range of funding sources available to artists and creative practitioners. As well as grants, it will develop a wider portfolio of funding methods including loans and investments."? I ask exactly what is this "wider portfolio of funding methods"; what are they, how will they be administered, who will administer them; what will be the eligibility criteria, who will adjudicate this and under what processes/conditions; what are the costings for these, and what is the impact assessment on artists and arts organisations?

(10) Are the Scottish Government aware of the current levels of visual arts graduate / post-graduate debt and have these factored into any discussions on the formation of Creative Scotland and "the range of funding sources [to be] available to artists and creative practitioners"?

(11) What work has been done to assess the viability of a "portfolio of funding methods" with regard to maintaining current levels of support for artistic production in Scotland?

(12) Will the introduction of loans or other funding mechanisms result in the depletion or phasing out of the number and amount available of the equivalent of today's non-repayable SAC grants to artists and arts organisations?

(13) What work has been done to assess the envisaged long term cultural, economic and social effects of the introduction of a "range of funding sources available to artists and creative practitioners"?

(14) What provision will be made to cope with artists' / arts organisations' debt as a result of loans and what provision will be made to cope with non repayment of any loans?

(15) Has there been an assessment of the impact the financial crisis will have on Creative Scotland and the envisaged "portfolio of funding methods", how it will impact existing SAC clients and what their additional needs are likely to be and how they will be met, and how it will impact other cultural organisations reliant on sponsorship / advertising for support?

(16) Can the Scottish Government guarantee that Creative Scotland will not be competing with arts organisations, or other cultural bodies if it is proposed Creative Scotland generate additional income to supplement its grant in aid?

(17) Has there been an assessment of how exposed Creative Scotland will be to the financial crisis and recession, and what measures will there be in place to ensure the security of provision for contemporary culture in Scotland during this difficult time?

(18) How is it envisaged the effects of the financial crisis and recession on artists and cultural organisations be mitigated by Creative Scotland, rather than further exposed via unnecessary marketisation at this highly unstable time?

(19) We are led to believe that with Creative Scotland art-form specialisms will no longer exist. Precisely what will this mean for the guaranteeing of specialist art-form funding? What art-form specialisms knowledge will there be in Creative Scotland, how will specialisms be represented, and how will artists be represented?

(20) What has been the total expenditure on the Transition Team and the transition process to date, including salaries, additional consultants, all and any other associated costs? Please indicate how these figures have been calculated.

Requests for information on IPR in response to Pete Wishart MP

It would be a great help if you [Pete Wishart MP] and / or the Culture Minister could provide the details of the Transition Team's examination (or any other Creative Scotland / Scottish Arts Council / Scottish Screen discussions or consultancy work) of IPR and exactly what Creative Scotland's position will be on IPR? Not least how this relates to the models of IPR exploitation as proposed and exemplified by NESTA?

NESTA was the outcome of an exploration of copyright- and profit-orientated approaches to ‘investment’ -- “set up with Lottery funding to help people turn bright ideas into products, services or techniques with social and commercial benefit”. NESTA advocates its retention of patent rights for intellectual property resulting from publicly funded work and the wider state exploitation of IPR. The Scottish Arts Council has just put out a consultancy tender for "The 21st Century financing for the arts and creative industries in Scotland Study", does the exploitation of IPR feature in this consultancy?

Given the Transition Team appear to have lifted wholesale NESTA's definition of 'Creative Industries', it would also be of benefit to know who associated, directly or indirectly, with NESTA the Transition Team consulted / met with, how frequently and what was discussed, and how influential NESTA have been on the thinking underpinning Creative Scotland?

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:
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/officialReports/meetingsParliament/or-08/sor0618-02.htm#Col9842

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.

http://www.sau.org.uk/

440 sign letter opposed to Creative Scotland

Many thanks to all who have signed the letter to MSPs in a collective expression of concern over the proposals for Creative Scotland.

The letter, signed by 440 individuals in total over the winter break, urging MSPs to withdraw their support for Creative Scotland, was sent out to MSPs in hard copy to arrive on Monday 5th January 2009.

The letter was written following the artist-led public meeting in Glasgow on 10th December 2008, collating artists' concerns expressed at this meeting, which have been forming over a considerable period of time. Concurring with a majority of the points raised in the letter, individuals have registered their affirmation.

As explained in the letter, the opposition to Creative Scotland is comprehensive, and a collective response has been instigated due to a serious loss of confidence in the Government's will and ability to communicate with artists in Scotland. As is evidenced in the letter, there is an overwhelming sense of frustration at the lack on meaningful consultation, as successive governments have systematically ignored the artists at the heart of cultural life in this country.

We have been in communication with a number of MSPs and extensive press and media contacts, and will be awaiting a prompt response once the letter has been received

Best wishes
Guyan Porter, Leigh French

A PDF of the signed letter is available here: http://www.variant.org.uk/events/CS_letter.pdf

'The future of the arts in Scotland : Creative Scotland, an artists' briefing paper'

'The future of the arts in Scotland : Creative Scotland, an artists' briefing paper'

Can be downloaded as a PDF here: http://www.variant.org.uk/events/art+labour/future.pdf

The briefing paper 'The future of the arts in Scotland' was put together as an urgent response to what is now considered as a crisis within the arts in Scotland. The paper was constructed with input from arts professionals across Scotland, has been distributed widely via various artists' and arts organisations email lists, blogs, and other online means, and put out as an artists' briefing prior to the meeting held on 10th December 2008.