Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Artists plan mass meetings amid concern over Creative Scotland

Article published in the Herald on Wednesday 3rd October
Phil Miller
Arts Correspondent
SCOTLAND’S artists are to stage mass meetings in Edinburgh and Glasgow next month after disquiet over the policies of Creative Scotland, the national arts funding body.

The events will be the first organised and regular “open space” rallies of artists from all genres who want their voices to be heard.

Criticism of the funding body’s actions was sparked in May following the removal of Flexible Funding – fixed-term funding – from more than 40 organisations, and its replacement by Lottery-backed project funding.

However, until now, criticism and debate about Creative Scotland has been confined to individuals putting their heads above the parapet or comments and discussions on social media such as Twitter and Facebook.

Fiona Hyslop, the Culture Secretary, has written two letters to Creative Scotland, stressing its need to communicate better with the arts world.

Leading poet Don Paterson described the body as a “dysfunctional ant-heap”, and playwright David Greig has added his criticism.

Now, with a meeting of around 100 artists and commentators at a space lent by Creative Scotland at its Waverley Gate offices in Edinburgh on October 26, and another of around 100 people at the Tramway in Glasgow on October 31, organisers hope a more cohesive voice for artists and arts companies will be heard in the debate over arts administration and funding north of the Border.

The organisers of the meetings want artists to attend and provide a counterweight to, and opinions about, Creative Scotland’s policies and decisions.

Representatives from Creative Scotland are being invited to the meetings in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Paterson and Greig are both invited to the Edinburgh meeting.

Jen McGregor, the writer and director who has organised the Edinburgh meeting, and Roanne Dods, the producer and former director of the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, who has organised the Glasgow meeting, hope the events will be the first of many.

Ms McGregor, who is not funded by Creative Scotland, said: “What I am really hoping to achieve is to get artists to talk to each other, to express themselves, and argue their case.”

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