Monday, 3 October 2011


September 2011: After all those other upbeat-compared-to-England 'reports' on cuts which chose to ignore the pre-arranged year's delay between Salmond and Cameron, Creative Scotland's architect of choice, Anne Bonnar, comments on the still further cuts - Creative Scotland being a cut in the first instance - now likely to be to 'strategic commissioning' (existing FXOs):

For the keep-calm-and-carry-on version, see:

March 2011: "...This fundamental shift means that more than 50% of the organisations funded by the Scottish Arts Council are in a pool which will vanish. Currently £18.2m is provided to 51 Foundation Organisations and £8m is provided to 60 Flexibly Funded Organisationsand this category will disappear to be replaced by strategic commissioning. This is bound to cause alarm..."

November 2010: "There are many significant differences between both the budgets and the politics of Scotland and England as well as the cultural dimensions. The most important aspect regarding funding for culture in today's budget is that this is a one year holding budget from the SNP minority administration before next May's election. Another is that we have been spared the public flogging of the Arts Council of England because we have already taken the pain of abolishing the Scottish Arts Council in the course of establishing the more streamlined agency Creative Scotland. But the overall cut to the culture budget is 10% which is higher than the 6.9% John Swinney cited as the standard cut applied to non ring-fenced services. So its the next instalments which will shape the story." (annebonnar)

July 2010: "...More than 50 of Scotland's best-known arts organisations ... face deep cuts in their grants from the new government arts agency, Creative Scotland."

Sunday, 2 October 2011

commonality of political ethos inferred

Common Practice - Mission Statement
Common Practice, London is an advocacy group working for the recognition and fostering of the small-scale contemporary visual arts sector in London. The group aims to promote the value of the sector and its activities, act as a knowledge base and resource for members and affiliated organisations, and develop a dialogue with other visual art organisations on a local, national and international level. The group's founding members are Afterall, Chisenhale Gallery, Electra, Gasworks, LUX, Matt's Gallery, Mute Publishing, The Showroom and Studio Voltaire – together representing a diverse range of activities including commissioning, production, publishing, research, exhibitions, residencies and artists' studios.

Position paper
Announcing the publication of a new research paper on the economy and value of the small-scale visual arts sector in the UK
Size Matters: Notes towards a Better Understanding of the Value, Operation and Potential of Small Visual Arts Organisations is written by Sarah Thelwall, commissioned by Common Practice, London with support from Arts Council England.
It seeks to articulate the value of the small-scale visual arts sector within the wider arts ecology. The paper explores the significance potential small-scale organisations have in the present cultural landscape and economy, also detailing the operational and investment challenges they face in realising this. Finally, it advocates a reconsideration of present assessment and investment practices.
Size Matters was published in July 2011 and will be presented in a variety of forums to stimulate discussion around its core questions – whose urgency has increased in recent months.
For more information and queries regarding the paper please contact the Common Practice members via our email < info AT >

Download a copy of the position paper - Size Matters
If we can ever put particular contexts aside, though perhaps of thought within Scotland is:
"The group aims to promote the value of the sector and its activities, act as a knowledge base and resource for members and affiliated organisations and develop a dialogue with other visual art organisations at a local, national and international level."
Which initially sets out a hopefully broad and inclusive definition of 'value' beyond perhaps that which is economically realisable - immediate, deferred, unutilised, or otherwise. A definition which itself holds a lot of potentiality. Whether the political scope of that potentiality is fully realised in the research outcomes of the paper is another matter. As Art Monthly tell-it-like-it-is:
"While there are many interesting strands explored in the paper, one issue is not made entirely clear, and that concerns an aspect affecting the uneven landscape of organisations in terms of commercial opportunity. While it is noted that small organisations often commission risky, less obviously commercial art forms - as compared with larger institutions or commercial galleries - it should also be noted that this commissioning springs from a political ethos inherent within the commissioning organisations, and that this ethos precludes particular funding; it would not be possible, for example, for Common Practice member Mute magazine to accept sponsorship from BP, at Tate Britain does, or private banker JP Morgan, as the Serpentine Gallery does. Hence the move towards philanthropic giving and sponsorship, which the coalition government is so keen on, is likely to disadvantage small organisations even further."
Small is Beautiful, Art Monthly, Sept 2011, 349

Setting the tone for 'Strategic Commissioning'

"Before we move to the commissioning model, there will be a rolling programme of reviews, with the sectors involved playing a key role, to inform our needs for different sectors. The process for commissioning will be introduced in stages with selected delivery partners replacing FXOs as each franchise becomes operational. This would start in 2011 with reviews of performing arts, visual arts and crafts. It will be followed in 2012 with reviews of film, digital media and festivals. In 2013 we will review literature agencies, publishing and equalities."
Andrew Dixon, Chief Executive of Creative Scotland

So where are we as of October 2011 - assuming there hasn't already been a significant shift to a 'commissioning model' in practice?
Economic Impact Study - Invitation to Tender
Creative Scotland is looking for organisations or consultants to undertake an economic impact study examining the contribution made to the Scottish economy by the arts and creative industries. We are seeking to appoint contractors with high-level skills in economic analysis and expertise in the area of economics and the arts and creative industries.
Closing Date: 12pm Friday 14 October 2011

Economic Impact Study Tender Brief
Project Specification
1. Introduction

1.1 Creative Scotland was formed in 2010 through the merger of the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen, with a remit to work across the arts, culture, film, TV and the creative industries. Our vision is for a nation where the arts and the creative industries (A&CI) are supported and celebrated and their economic contribution fully captured. Our Corporate Plan 2011-2014 was published in April 2011.

1.2 We seek to develop policies and activities that will enhance the economic contribution of the A&CI. In our plan we also identify a series of aspirations based on a ten year horizon to 2020. One of these aspirations is for the cultural economy in Scotland to exceed the UK average and contribute to sustainable economic growth. In this way our work contributes to National Outcome 2 of the National Performance Framework: ensuring Scotland realises its full economic potential, with more and better employment opportunities for our people.

1.3 To achieve these goals we work closely with arts organisations, skills agencies, funding councils, local authorities and business gateways. Importantly, we chair the coordinating group of the Scottish Creative Industries Partnership (SCIP), working closely with the Scottish Government, enterprise agencies and other key partners.

1.4 In order to support decision-making and planning, it is essential that Creative Scotland and our partners have access to robust information about the scale and nature of the contribution of the A&CI to the wider Scottish economy. We are now undertaking a programme of research to capture and develop, on an ongoing basis, a nation-wide understanding of the economic impact of the A&CI.
Download the full brief here:
Creative Scotland Research
Scoping Study into the Economic Impact of the Arts and Creative Industries in Scotland
September 2011

EKOS Economic Impact Scoping Study

Creative Scotland seeks to develop policies that will enhance the economic contribution of the Arts and Creative Industries. We commissioned a scoping study to review existing impact studies, scope the extent and quality of available data and recommend an approach for conducting a Scotland-wide economic impact study (EIS). This study was undertaken by EKOS Limited; they set out what is achievable through an EIS of Scotland’s arts and creative industries and how best to gather information that can be easily replicated by sector bodies.

EKOS Economic Impact Scoping Study (pdf)

EKOS Economic Impact Scoping Study (doc)
ekos - Economic and Social Development

'Microcredit doesn't work - it's now official'

Creative Financing: feasibility study into financial mechanisms for supporting small-scale creative activity in Scotland
Shetland Arts with support from Mission Models Money, Creative Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise
Final Report, January 2011

"...There are plans to explore the implications of this new study alongside other related work that has been recently published or is in the final stages of research at a national event later in year."


Microcredit doesn't work - it's now official
Milford Bateman, September 20, 2011

"The inexorable expansion of microcredit and informal microenterprises ... inevitably absorbs the financial resources and policymaker attention that might otherwise have been directed towards supporting the crucial SME sector."
"Muhammad Yunus famously announced that poverty would be eradicated in a generation, and the very notion of poverty itself would soon be 'consigned to a museum' to which our children would have to go on study tours to see what all the fuss was about. With such hugely seductive and supposedly successful forms of 'capitalism by and for the poor' on offer, the key international development institutions, and the US government and World Bank in particular, fell over themselves to finance the idea of microcredit. The global microcredit movement was up and running very fast indeed. Unfortunately, after nearly 30 years of global experience in the field, it is now quite clear that Dr Yunus has turned out to be spectacularly wrong. A growing number of independent analysts and institutions, and even long-standing supporters of microcredit, now accept that this is indeed the case."

Also see:
Sophie Hope & Leigh French examine Case Studies:

Credit Markets - micro-finance : the individualistic focus of development intervention

'The creative class is a lie'

Anyone still labouring under the illusion:

The creative class is a lie. The dream of a laptop-powered "knowledge class" is dead. The media is melting. Blame the economy - and the Web
"…But for those who deal with ideas, culture and creativity at street level — the working- or middle-classes within the creative class — things are less cheery. Book editors, journalists, video store clerks, musicians, novelists without tenure — they’re among the many groups struggling through the dreary combination of economic slump and Internet reset. The creative class is melting, and the story is largely untold…"

"…But was this ever true? And who are the creative classes, anyway? The creative class is made up of a ‘creative core’, according to Florida’s classification, which is comprised of scientists, engineers, university professors, poets, novelists, artists, entertainers, actors, designers and architects, as well as the ‘thought leadership’ of our society, including non-fiction writers, editors, cultural figures, think-tank researchers, analysts and other opinion-makers. The creative-core group is supported by a phalanx of ‘creative professionals’ who work in a diverse range of ‘knowledge intensive’ industries such as high-tech, financial services, the legal and health care professions, and business management. While Marx understood class in terms of conflicting class interests dominated by uneven power relations, Florida, a keen supporter of growth-based free market economics, is keen to stress that the creative classes will work with rather than against the prevailing economic system: “The Creative Class has made certain symbols of non-conformity acceptable – even conformist. It is in this sense that they represent not an alternative group but a new and increasingly norm-setting mainstream of society”[53]. In this sense Florida argues capitalism has pulled off a major coup, ‘capturing’ people who would have been seen as “bizarre mavericks” operating on the fringes of bohemia, and “setting them at the very heart of the process of innovation and growth”[54].
Florida’s claim that the so-called creative class make up the ‘mainstream’ of society is deeply contentious. In Glasgow, for instance, around nine out of ten of the city’s jobs are in the service sector, which as the Glasgow City Council Plan (2008-2011) acknowledges, is characterised by a preponderance of lower paid and lower skilled services. Meanwhile, about a quarter of Glasgow’s working age population are on benefits and outside the workforce altogether. There is no point in arguing either that Glasgow’s benefit claimants and low-paid service sector workers can be rescued by “the leaders of twenty-first-century society”; for beneath Florida’s hyperbole a disturbing acknowledgement is made: “There is a strong correlation between inequality and creativity: the more creative a region is, the more inequality you will find there”[55]. As Florida admits, this inequality has “insidious dimensions”. The service economy ultimately operates as the “support infrastructure” of the creative age: “Members of the Creative Class, because they are well compensated and work long and unpredictable hours, require a growing pool of low end service workers to take care of them and do their chores”[56]. Florida himself suggests that the growth of this burgeoning, increasingly precarious service class must be understood alongside the rise of the creative class. Moreover, another troubling element arises in Florida’s thesis. In his tabulation of the classes (which includes ‘the agricultural class’, ‘the service class’, ‘the working class’, ‘the creative class’, and a subset, ‘the super-creative core’) traditional class actors – the middle and upper classes – are entirely absent. Could it be that their new homes are in the upper echelons of the ‘creative class’ and the ‘super-creative core’? …

Glasgow’s Merchant City: An Artist Led Property Strategy
Neil Gray

From Funding To Franchise (Workshop)

From Funding To Franchise (Workshop)
25 June 2011, Transmission Gallery

What does the end of Flexible Funding mean for artist-run spaces in Scotland?
In 2013, Creative Scotland's Flexible Funding stream, which currently makes up a large proportion of Transmission's annual budget, will be scrapped and replaced with 'strategic commissioning'.
The spring 2011 issue of Variant contains an interview with Andrew Dixon, Chief Executive of Creative Scotland, where he expands on his recently unveiled Corporate Plan. Importantly, for Transmission as a ‘flexibly funded’ artist-run space, and with serious implications for all other self-organised groups sustained by public funding, he states:
"What we will do is take a more strategic look at the sort of whole cultural ecology. So we’ve had a programme called Flexible Funding, funding a lot of galleries and a lot of theatre companies… We’re going to get rid of that programme… We are very committed to what we are supporting but we are going to get rid of it in two years time. … Before we move to the commissioning model, there will be a rolling programme of reviews, with the sectors involved playing a key role, to inform our needs for different sectors."
This workshop facilitated by Variant / The Strickland Distribution will explore issues arising from the interview for collective self-institutional endeavours (artist-run, artist-led, self-organised) with their specific lexicon of practice. This workshop is an opportunity for Transmission members to learn more about the changes, enabling the organisation as a whole to more fully engage in the review process of Creative Scotland's proposals.

Read the full interview with Andrew Dixon here:
Creative Scotland’s Corporate Plan is available here:

The workshop was broken down into 3 main themes identified as emerging from the interview with Creative Scotland’s Andrew Dixon which we believe to be of importance to FXOs (Flexibly Funded Organisations) and their members.

These broad themes are:
Ecology - presentation (notes):
Rent ('place) - presentation (notes):
Rent ('creative financing') - presentation (notes):
Reviews - presentation (notes):

Each section was introduced by a short sound clip from the Andrew Dixon interview. Followed by a short 15mins presentation outlining the theme, which was intended to inform the following small group facilitated discussions.