Arts organisations right to lose all confidence in Creative Scotland, says Greer

Ross Greer MSP, Culture & Media spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, used today's (22 Feb) meeting of Holyrood's Culture Committee to tell the Chief Executive of Creative Scotland that many arts organisations would be right to have lost all confidence in the organisation over its recent round of regular funding grants.

In questioning Chief Executive Janet Archer and recent interim chair Ben Thomson, Greer challenged the organisation on the revelation that serious concerns over factual inaccuracies in application reports were not passed to the board ahead of either their initial meeting on 18 January nor the emergency meeting on 2 February at which funding decisions were made, accusing Creative Scotland of a "serious internal communications breakdown."

He also questioned the process by which organisations had their applications moved from appropriate to inappropriate for regular funding, months after their submission, on the basis that they would be more appropriate for a ‘Strategic Touring Theatre Fund’ which it was revealed has not actually been signed off yet, for which no details exist and which will not be in operation until April 2019.

Ross Greer MSP said:

“Moving the goalposts months after organisations have gone through the difficult and prolonged process of compiling and submitting an application, failing to address concerns about factual inaccuracies in internal reports and only informing arts organisations of major changes at the last possible moment or even after decisions have been made all lead to the unavoidable conclusion that Scotland’s arts and creative sector would be well within their rights to lose confidence in Creative Scotland’s processes.

“It really was shocking to hear from the interim chair that the board’s emergency meeting was not to ‘discuss factual inaccuracies’ - as if that makes those errors irrelevant. For organisations affected, it would be entirely reasonable to assume that their funding bid being unsuccessful may have in no small part been down to errors in a Creative Scotland report, which they had flagged up. The board should have been informed of these concerns as soon as they were raised. For both the initial funding meeting and the emergency meeting to have taken place without that information in the board’s possession is just not responsible.”

On the potential touring theatre funding Ross Greer said:

“World-leading organisations who developed and submitted applications by April 2017 were only told in January 2018 that their bid, which was valid when they submitted it, is no longer valid because it would be more appropriate for a new fund which does not actually exist yet, which the sector knew nothing about but will now be expected to co-design and which won’t exist until April 2019.

“For a sector whose existence depends on long term funding this just isn’t good enough. It also begs the question why such a major change is occurring, assuming it is ultimately approved by the board, in the absence of any overall strategy for the theatre sector.”