Arts Funding has Central Belt Bias

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Arts funding outside the Central Belt needs an urgent rethink, an MSP said today, after it emerged the lion’s share of public cash and job opportunities still head there.

With Creative Scotland due to make their first financial decisions this week, Holyrood heard just 12 North East organisations got regular funding from 2018-21, compared to 81 in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Some 10 local authority areas got nothing at all.

And every Creative Scotland job was filled in the Central Belt last year.

North East MSP Maurice Golden asked the SNP’s culture secretary how he would “rectify this disparity” as Creative Scotland bosses consider £96m worth of applications from 361 organisations, with only £40m in its budget.

The Scottish Conservative MSP said later:

“The SNP-Green government have repeatedly short-changed rural Scotland and these figuresmake it clear that the culture sector is another victim of that neglect. 

“It appears as though ministers have effectively given up on supporting the rich culturalheritage in communities north of the Tay. 

“The sector is still recovering from the effects of the pandemic and continues to grapple with rising bills as a result of the global cost-of-living crisis.

“A failure to give emerging organisations the resources they deserve will have a deeply damaging impact on them. This needs an urgent rethink.”

Angus Robertson insisted: “It’s not for me as cabinet secretary to tell Creative Scotland about which organisations in what part of the country should be funded.”

But he added: “No doubt they will have heard the point the member has raised…I support that.”

Previous RFO beneficiaries include Fèis Rois of Dingwall, Aberdeen Performing Arts and Dundee Rep. And bosses at Dundee’s DCA cinema previously warned of “increasingly uncertain” financial waters ahead if the Scottish Government does not increase Creative Scotland’s budget this year.

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