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arts funding

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Creative Scotland has announced regular funding for three years 2015-2018 of £99,696,859 to 119 organisations. These organisations can be viewed as the core infrastructure which Creative Scotland supports to deliver its overall policy objectives over the next three years. Inclusion within this portfolio is associated with a recognition of value and significance by Creative Scotland, including in terms of excellence.

The awards need to be seen in the context of other public funding available to the arts and culture in Scotland: Creative Scotland itself will be funding artists, companies and projects through other programmes over the next three years; the Scottish Government’s culture budget (draft) for 2015-16 totals £174.7m; Scottish local authorities can be expected to expend close to £100m; the British Council will fund some arts activity and UK Lottery funds are available not only through the arts lottery, through by Creative Scotland, but also HLF and the Big Lottery.

The 119 organisations in receipt of Creative Scotland’s regular funding will receive an estimated £33,232,286 in 2015/16, one-third of the three year total and can be compared with 3 groups of funded organisations in 2014/15:

 

2014-15
Foundation Funded Organisation Programme Organisation Annual clients/other Total Regular Funding Awarded 1 year average
45 36 47 128 119
18,735 4,634 7,486 30,854 33,232

Bonnar Keenlyside’s analysis of these by art form and location (BK Analysis Creative Scotland Funded Organisations 2015) identifies that overall the art forms have all received more funding than previously, if the £400,000 award to Sistema in 2014/15 is discounted.

It further identifies where the funded organisations cluster – and where there are gaps. Even when using the 14 larger health board areas as opposed to the 32 local authorities, there are some parts of Scotland where Creative Scotland’s funded organisations are scarce –  Ayrshire and Arran, Fife and Lanarkshire or, in the case of he Scottish Borders, non-existent . By the same token, the Islands, Highland and Tayside have attracted relatively high amounts.

There are a number of factors which contribute to this: a place’s tradition of engagement in the arts and culture and in encouraging arts organisations; where artists have found support; where local authorities and civic leaders have weighed in – and some great applications. Equally, there might be a dearth of compelling applications from artistic organisations in those areas which have not attracted support.

In making this historic three year commitment to a national portfolio, Creative Scotland now has the opportunity to look at gaps and to work with the members of its portfolio, its funding streams and its partners including the Scottish Government, national performing companies and local authorities to support artistic and cultural activity where there is little.

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fuciods in tide swept condition

The reaction of the arts community to Creative Scotland’s end of the euphemistically-titled flexible funding stream continues to gather steam with this weekend’s open letter from leading playwrights. And playwrights say it better than most of us.  David Greig’s masterfully compelling open letter set a tone which has swept along artists and sympathisers in a tide of protest.

When Creative Scotland announced the end of flexible funding over a year ago there was no such outcry.  Perhaps if playwrights and artists had applied their thinking , passionate prose and inflence around the announcement of the end of flexible funding a full year ago, the dialogue could have been a lot more constructive.

 And it is conceivable that the whole protest could have been avoided had Creative Scotland not only announced the new funding streams with which it intends to support the existing companies but discussed and  finessed the details of how that would work for the companies BEFORE simply announcing the end of the specific funds which support the companies currently.

That moment has passed but the hostile atmosphere created by the process will make a smooth transition to the new funding streams very difficult.

But let’s imagine for a moment that Creative Scotland’s new funding arrangements will, as promised by Andrew Dixon, delivers support worthy of the arts companies.  The Creative Scotland senior team is still relatively new and comes not from the arts community in Scotland. Their communications head comes not from the arts at all.  This could be seen as a refreshing lack of baggage, enabling bold decision making and communication unfettered by being too embroiled with our cultural community.    The recent seemingly lack of consideration of the impact of CS’s communication on those whose stability it affects may  reflect this limited experience and understanding of the arts community in Scotland.  A sin of omission rather than one of commission perhaps.

The Chair of Creative Scotland, Sir Sandy Crombie, has batted back an open letter to the open letter of the playwrights, reaffirming the commitment to those companies funded under the current flexible funding arrangements.  He also draws attention to the other 80% funding provided by CS including for the foundation organisations, like the Traverse, Tron, Dundee Rep, Lyceum and Citizens’ Theatres, which have supported and commissioned much of the fantastic world class theatre highlighted in Greig’s  #stworldclass twitter feed.

All of us in the cultural community in Scotland need to pay more attention to avoid the more negative aspects of this outcry, the anxiety caused, the sucking of energies into defensive action rather than developing ideas and making work.  That means that CS should improve its communication strategy.  It also means that those of us outside, particularly our brilliant writers and poets, should pay more attention to announcements from CS, the Scottish Government and all and reflect on implications for the sector before decisions are made.

An important emergent issue for the future is the extent to which our artists and arts organisations are going to be dependent on lottery funding. The increased reliance on lottery funds rather than recurrent grant-in-aid funding has been emphasised by Creative Scotland.   Lottery funding must be ‘additional’ and can never be core. Therefore, no organisation entirely funded by lottery funds can  expect a seamless security if it is largely dependent on CS rather than other income.  It would be useful to understand what CS principles are going to be regarding the use of grant in aid and lottery funds.  Are only the foundation organisations to be funded from grant in aid?

And we should build on the positive aspects of the furore. The intelligent challenge from individual commentators such as Stramash Arts and Roanne Dods, the openness of communication and leadership from artists are things to be celebrated and on which we should build.

Glasgow's Red Road Flats before demolition

Creative Scotland’s  failure to ensure that arts companies felt valued and understood has generated much anxiety and attracted much criticism.  Announcing the end of the medium term funding stream which its predecessor The Scottish Arts Council euphemistically termed ‘flexible funds’ for 49 organisations BEFORE sharing with the majority of  those companies the names and priorities attached to replacement short and medium term funding streams has naturally threatened the stability of the sector. Its like a local council who has plans for a brand new housing scheme or a new town serving eviction notices to residents of tenements without first showing them the lovely new homes and gardens in which they will live.  While not all of the residents will want to leave behind their old loved but run-down homes, the town planners will genuinely believe its better  for health and wellbeing and for many that will be true.  Of paramount importance is that the families always have a home and are never threated with being thrown out on the street.  Many artists now feel that they are being evicted without a home to which to go .

The arts community always protests when there are cuts.  But the outcry from artists to this situation differs significantly from past protests.  The varied and intelligent blogs, tweets, letters and comments shared digitally has raised the level of debate from being a single channelled protest to a sophisticated identification of key issues.  These are not only from artists such as the playwright David Greig but from other cultural leaders and commentators who, in being freelance or portfolio workers, have more in common with the artistic community than with the salaried and pensioned executives of some of the foundation funded organisations or the staff of Creative Scotland.  Equally importantly, contributors from the wider political media have reflected on ideological elements as well as the more traditional lampooning.

When we change the way we communicate, we change society

Clay Shirky in Here Comes Everybody

In the past, such protests have always been dealt with behind closed doors.  The arts community would make representations to the Culture Minister in a private manner .  That Minister might then direct its cultural intermediary to make changes in an equally non public forum, communications advisors would work  with individual trouble makers to allay concerns and the old order would be restored.

This time, David Greig responds to a request from Creative Scotland to have a meeting by publishing an open letter.

Scottish Cultural workers feel they are part of a success story, making world class work on thin resources. This is not a career to us, this is our life. By approaching the sector as a problem, or as recalcitrant, or as slow thinking luddites you have immediately put them on the defensive. You need artists to be open in order that together you can explore imaginative ways to respond to the funding issues

The chief of CS communications responds on twitter. CEO Andrew Dixon comments on blogs.

All of this creates an unprecedented open conversation which, if it continues, could have a powerful effect on how the arts community in Scotland can play a full part in leadership and decision making instead of having to react angrily to poorly communicated decisions.

Violin cases: is the case for public investment in music greater
than for other cultural forms?

Although the level of cuts to the arts and culture vary across the wealthier nations of the world, the story of how they are applied is becoming familiar. Priorities for public investment in the arts are now focussed on three areas: 1. Funding the core, or what are sometimes called ‘frontline services’, 2 investing in cultural activity which is seen to have a demonstrable economic impact; and 3, initiatives which are politically driven, where a minister or local councillor can make their mark through targetted investment to meet key national or local objectives.

Scotland follows this pattern,  in the context of a 5.4% reduction in the Scottish Culture budget and dark fears that some local authorities will withdraw arts funding in some areas.  The Culture Minister, Fiona Hyslop MSP has fought the culture corner within Holyrood and maintains that the Scottish Government is committed to culture, even though culture has a higher cut than other areas of the budget.  Giving evidence to the Education and Culture Committee scrutinising the budget in Holyrood this week, she referred to the challenges of protecting investment in culture while taking collective cabinet responsibility for delivering the Scottish Government’s ‘Single Purpose’, to grow the economy.  Her priorities in the budget have been to protect what she referred to as ‘frontline services’, a term applied not only to the core revenue budgets of the national collections and national performing companies but also to the  clients of Creative Scotland referred to as foundation organisations.  These provide much of the back bone of cultural infrastructure throughout Scotland, although not all, as the previous Scottish Arts Council division between ‘foundation’ and ‘flexibly funded ‘organisations means that some important organisations are missing from the cohort Hyslop describes as the front line.  One off investments include capital expenditure for the V & A in Dundee and in Glasgow music venues in time for the Commonwealth Games.

Marshalling all her arguments in support of contributing towards economic success, Ms Hyslop partly justified continued £10m investment in the Youth Music Initiative in terms of its contribution to the development of skills. YMI was an initiative introduced during the leadership of Jack MacConnell and Scottish Labour to provide free instrumental tuition to primary school pupils across Scotland in the face of a sharp decline and huge discrepancies in the services offered by local authorities, a scope since widened to include diverse projects to involve young people in music in community contexts.
The YMI fund is £10m annually, itself equivalent to 20% of the overall grant in aid received by Creative Scotland and, as a ringfenced fund, like the ‘front-line services’ is protected from the 2% cuts which Creative Scotland must manage. This puts it into the super -league of national performing companies, where funding is ringfenced and protected from cuts.

The arguments Ms Hyslop uses are wider than skills development. Such is the political commitment to this scheme that YMI is defined as a front-line service:

“At a time when Scotland is facing deep cuts in public spending imposed by the UK Government, my first priority has been to protect the provision of frontline services such as the Youth Music Initiative.By maintaining funding for this scheme, we are investing in Scotland’s young people. As well as fostering and developing their musical skills and unlocking their creative potential, the Youth Music Initiative teaches our young people to be innovative, resourceful, confident and responsible.

There can be do doubt that a universal engagement in music by young people has benefits to individuals and society, a view shared by the Scottish Government. But  does the proportionately large investment in music signal a belief that investment in music has higher value to the public pound than investment in other areas?

Philosphers and critics including Walter Pater, and  Shopenhauer have argued that

All art constantly aspires towards the condition of music

(Walter Pater).

Any such stratification is out of tune with the neo-egalitarianism which defines the public cultural community. Cultural leaders advocate for public investment wielding two blunt instruments: a combination of general statements about the transformational power of the arts and some often-dodgy evidence of economic impact thus avoiding the need for any competition with cultural colleagues.

But there is a handful of studies which have attempted to establish IF  there is a relationship of cultural participation to well-being, studies which are based on an academic framework of enquiry as opposed to a gathering of evidence which can be spun in an argument.

The findings of these neutral studies can be controversial and unsettling.  One of the common threads is that engagement in some art forms has a higher degree of impact on health and well being than others.  This is particularly true for music.

The most recent of these studies looks at the relationship between culture and well being on the Italian  ‘Happiness Index’. The Impact of Culture on the Individual Subjective Well-Being of the Italian Population by Enzo Grossi & Pier Luigi Sacco & Giorgio Tavano Blessi & Renata Cerutti, and the follow up data mining provides wide, deep, statistically robust and algorythmically athletic evidence.

The level of subjective psychological well being in 1500 Italians was  measured by means of an index validated by decades of clinical practice: The Psychological General Well Being Index (PGWBI). The study concluded that, of all the social, economic, education, geographical and health factors which contribute towards well being health status and cultural consumption are the dominating factors that potentially affect well-being.

The research

shows that the contribution of cultural access is not simply related to other well known determinants of subjective well-being, like levels of education, income, or age, as it is contended by conventional wisdom in the field

culture ranks third, right after (absence of) diseases and income, and turns out to be substantially more relevant of categories like age, education,gender, or employment,


The study looked at the differences according to the art form and found  engagement with Jazz Concerts, Opera/Ballet,and Classical Music were much higher predictors of happiness than other art forms and that there were some activities for which high access entails a negative (though modest) impact, Poetry Reading and Cinema d’essai.

Classical music improves the Well Being Index score by 9.7%, and the more often the greater the benefit:

Grossi Sacco et el: music and well being

Whereas the same score for theatre is 2.38% and for visual arts its 3.89%.

As the authors point out, some of these results may have a particularly Italian flavour.

Such research moves on from the transformational arguments with cultural magicians sprinkling their fairy dust of engagement in the arts to bring vitality into the grey lives of recipients. It moves on from the instrumental.  It provides empirical evidence that culture is linked to well-being and provides particular evidence of the positive relationship between health and happiness and culture.

But some culture is more equal than others when it comes to health and well being, as these studies suggest and that makes for uncomfortable reading for cultural leaders vying for public investment.

Making the case:Fitrovia's flyer for Edinburgh Art Festival www.fitzrovianoir.com

The Edinburgh Festivals Impact Study published this week charts new territory in articulating, evidencing and advocating for the value of the Edinburgh Festivals.

Cultural and civic leaders first began articulation and evidencing the impact of major investment in culture with John Mysercough’s pioneering study on the economic impact of Glasgow’s 1990 City of Culture programme. Until that point, the arts were largely funded because they were the arts but an increased recognition of their role in delivering other social and economic objectives led to new investment in return for impacts in these areas. Over the last 30 years the UK and most of the Western world has largely valued financial growth above all so its not surprising that we have created a highly developed niche service industry which weighs and measures economic impact  with increasing refinement.

But the Edinburgh Festivals Forum has recognised the limitations of measuring only the economics.  After the collapse of the banks, society has moved beyond financial monotheism and returned to valuing our non-material journeys and actions as individuals and communities.  In that context, a contemporary cultural impact study should, as this one does, involve looking for impacts of positive individual learning, enlightenment and learning, and social development. And, in the context of the twin challenges of climate change and shrinking public expenditure, the study identifies that impact will need to be evidenced through the lenses of environmental impacts and financial sustainability, a concept the authors BOP link closely with the Festivals’ diversity of income streams.

The report contains much interesting data and analysis to support public investment.  What it does not focus on is a simple comparison on the difference between the levels of public subsidy, attendances and economic benefit between the last study by SQW in 2005 and this one in 2010.

This is probably because, using a simple comparison, it appears that the economic growth between 2000 and 2004 was, as recognised by the Festivals and funders, unsustainable.  Every £1 public investment in 2004  generated  £61 new output. Using the same measures, every £1 of public investment generated £35 new output.

SQW BOP

2004

2010

public investment £3m £7.5m
no of attendances £3.1m £4.2m
gross economic impact £184m £261m

So the Festivals are wise to move beyond the economic .The report highlights the good news, and the press release further distils positive findings on all these dimensions to present the best picture of the many fantastic benefits of £7.5m public investment in the Edinburgh Festivals including:

The Festivals play a starring role in the profile of the city and its tourism economy, with 93% of visitors stating that the Festivals are part of what makes Edinburgh special as a city, 82% agreeing that the Festivals make them more likely to revisit Edinburgh in the future and 82% stating that the Festivals were their sole or an important reason for coming to Scotland.

85% of all respondents agree that the Festivals promote a confident, positive Scottish national identity; and 89% of Edinburgh respondents say that the Festivals increase local pride in their home city.

The Festivals encourage and widen access to the arts, with 77% of audiences saying that the Festivals had enabled them to discover new talent and genres, and nearly two-thirds saying that the Festivals encourage them to take risks and see less well-known performances, events or films.

Only the most positive findings are promoted  by the Scottish Government including that “ 93% of parents agreed that attending Festival events as a family increased their child’s imagination.”  In fact the social and educational impacts for the Festivals are, as anticipated, significantly lower that those for arts programmes which are longer term and sustained, rather than event based.

As we move beyond economic impact and in to evaluating the benefits of culture through several wider lenses, we need to develop the metrics and methods for impact analysis of the arts so that they are robust, as suggested by Bill Ivey and by John Knell and Matthew Taylor.

But more than that, as a sector we need to have the confidence to put the results of such studies into context and not just to change our methods and level of reporting just to make our case.  We need to move beyond looking for evidence to help our arguments for public funding and design a rigorous and lasting research method which measures what we are trying to achieve.

Graven Image Design of Croft Lampshade in Harris Tweed wool cloth for Harris Tweed Hebrides

Creative Scotland has set out its stall in its first corporate plan, Creative Scotland presents an ambitious vision for Scotland’s arts, culture and creative industries – supported by additional funding.  The core Treasury financing of some £35.5m is maintained this year as well as £14.5m of Scottish Government funds for specific initiatives like the Expo fund which supports Scottish work at the Edinburgh Festivals. These funds are topped up with some unspent reserves accumulated during an investment hiatus as the new body took shape. The coffers are further swollen by the reinstatement of lottery funding after the diversion to the Olympics and a significant saving on overheads achieved by the creation of the new agency and the abolishment of its antecedents, The Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen, achieving annual savings of £2.4m through streamlining systems and a reduction of 30% in staff.  That is topped off with the attraction of funds from the Paul Hamlyn and Baring Foundations signalling the intent of the new organisation to attract additional funds to achieve its ambitions.

 

Creative Scotland has a much wider perspective than its predecessors with both a cultural and economic remit across the arts, culture and creative industries to encompass new sectors including the games industry and fashion alongside broadcasting, film, visual and performing arts and literature. That wider remit brings greater responsibility and influence but not more cash, so Creative Scotland has to lead partnerships with other investors like Scottish Enterprise to achieve its ambitious aims, among them to see a growth in Scotland’s cultural economy that exceeds the UK average and to achieve the highest levels of participation in the arts in the UK.

Its plans for using the funds over which it has direct control signal a fundamental shift in how funding is applied.  The Scottish Arts Council, resembling the traditional 20th century arts council model, distributed funding to arts organisations and sometimes, but in a much smaller proportion, directly to artists.  Creative Scotland will use its funds to deliver strategic priorities and to commission activities designed to achieve these priorities.  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 Organisations and this category will disappear to be replaced by strategic commissioning. This is bound to cause alarm amongst the Flexibly Funded Organisations, whose ranks include, for example, the Print and Sculpture Studios in Edinburgh whereas the Glasgow equivalents are included in the Foundation Organisation category, supposed to represent the cultural backbone of the country. And the term ‘strategic commissioning’ sends shivers down the spine of many arts organisations with cries that its all too woolly.

That alarm will be compounded if Creative Scotland does not have the cash which it projects after 2011. While Creative Scotland sets out a ten year aspiration and a three year budget, it can’t commit beyond this year.  The current Scottish Government budget is a pre-election budget and is for one year only.  With elections for the Scottish Parliament this May, which of the contesting parties will commit to funding Creative Scotland’s plans?    In Scotland we have a sort of optimism  since devolution and our current government is clearly committed to culture as an essential element of  Scotland’s international success and home happiness – hence Creative Scotland felt it could present as the default case a continuance of arts funding.  But its not in the bag and we need to see the commitment from all the parties to our cultural funding before May.

Nic Green's Trilogy

The arts are about more than the simplistic and somewhat crass measurement of bums on seats.  Quantity does not always equate to quality and there must be experiment and innovation, risks and some failures in a rich and diverse cultural ecology.  But with a public mission to engage the many, ACE should expect its investment across the portfolio to deliver additional attendances in return for additional investment. And the evidence is that it does.

The Arts Council of England’s report on its Regularly funded organisations: Key data from the 2009/10 annual submission contains a mine of useful information, showing activities, attendances, staffing and finances from all its RFOs showing variances by artform, region and size of organisation.  Most interesting is the data for the last three years, which shows trends from 2007 to 2010.

ACE has increased its investment from £336m to £372m (+11%).  Activities/events have increased by 10% over this period and attendances have increased by 26%, according to the report on a constant sample of respondents. This includes a wide variation by region, with London and Yorkshire showing the largest increases in attendance and the East and West Midlands showing the greatest decline.

The 11% increase in ACE investment worked in tandem with an increase of 12% from local authorities, supporting RFOS to increase their earned income by 16%, more than compensating for reductions in private donations and other investment.

The point of any major piece of data analysis like this is how it is used to inform decision making. For ACE, making hard decisions now on future investment, this data will inform specific interventions by region and by art forms.  But delving into the detail shouldn’t obscure the key message: increased public investment in core organisations delivers more art for more people.