Creative Scotland facing £7m emergency funding shortfall after 350 pleas for lifeline support

The Scottish Government's arts agency is facing a £7m funding black hole to help prevent venues and arts organisations going out of business within months.

Friday, 9th October 2020, 4:57 pm
Updated Friday, 9th October 2020, 5:20 pm
The Stand Comedy Club spent months lobbying for emergency financial support for the comedy sector to help it withstand the impact of the pandemic.
The Stand Comedy Club spent months lobbying for emergency financial support for the comedy sector to help it withstand the impact of the pandemic.

Creative Scotland Scotland has been bombarded with 350 bids worth from a fund set up to help those "at significant threat of insolvency” due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

It has been asked to provide £22 million worth of funding to major music venues, commercial theatres, comedy clubs, nightclubs, festivals, art galleries and multi-use arts venues.

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However it only has £15 million to share out between the venues and organisations who believe they are eligible for the fund.

Leith Theatre was among the arts venues lit up in red recently to highlight the shutdown of live events across the UK.

They have all been asked to demonstrate that they were “most critical to the cultural life of Scotland” and that their “existence is threatened by COVID-19 restrictions.” Live events were ordered to shut down by the Scottish Government in mid-March and are still banned across the country.

The new Culture Organisation and Venues Recovery Fund was announced in September by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon as part of a £59m package of measures for the cultural and heritage sectors.

It was aimed at helping venues and arts organisations which have been forced to close but do not normally rely on public funding.

Key players in the live music and comedy sectors had spent months lobbying Creative Scotland and the government for recognition of their plight and promises of financial assistance.

Eva Mackay, a director at The Stand Comedy Club, said: “It’s no surprise that the fund has been oversubscribed to such an extent.

"Our industry has been left high and dry by the government and funding bodies. We have been closed since March.

"We have had to campaign to be eligible for this fund as it wasn’t a guarantee earlier in year. We remain closed.

“It’s now up to Creative Scotland to help institutions like ourselves and others who were previously viable open businesses. Decisions need to be made quickly and fairly.”

Donald Macleod, chair of the Night-Time Industries Association in Scotland, which represents live music venues and nightclubs, said today: "Whilst any help is appreciated from the Scottish Government, the reality is that these measures simply don't go far enough.

“If it fully understood the impact that the sector has on the economy and gave thought to businesses that operate within the night time economy, additional funds would have been allocated. As it is, we feel that we have been short-changed.”

The Scottish Music Industry Association has warned that without further targeted government support the entire live music sector faces “a severe and catastrophic loss of jobs and skills which would do long-term damage to music and culture for decades to come."

A Creative Scotland spokeswoman said: “The Culture Organisations and Venues Recovery Fund aims to provide emergency support to organisations that provide opportunities for cultural engagement and have been unable to trade due to the impact of Covid-19.

"Its primary aim is to protect jobs and support the sustainability of organisations threatened by insolvency in the short to medium term.

"We’ve received 348 applications totalling over £22 million.

“Application assessments are now taking place against the published eligibility criteria and decisions will be communicated early November.

"We continue to work closely with government officials to advocate for any further potential support.”

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