Winners and losers in Scottish Arts Council budget

30 January 2003, United Kingdom

Following the recent announcement of the Scottish Arts Council’s (SAC) budget for the next year, many of the rumours and fears surrounding Scottish Executive funding to the SAC over the past few months have been confirmed. Four national companies came up trumps in the distribution of the £60 million budget for 2003-04; meanwhile, plans for a Scottish National Theatre were effectively shelved, with £1 million earmarked for its development reallocated to sustain the drama industry at a grass-roots level. Scottish National Opera received no increase with funding fixed at £7.4 million; Scottish Ballet saw its budget increase by just 1.6 per cent, to £2.88 million; while both the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra received small increases of 2.5 per cent and 3.8 per cent, respectively. However, funding to the national organisations was at an additional cost of £165,000, which the SAC said will be recovered from an expected increase in next year’s budget. But although the National Theatre plans have been put on hold, the redistribution of its start-up funds has meant smaller theatres can hope for a more secure future. Dundee Repertory Theatre will be able to continue operating with a full-time company of actors after an injection of £90,000, while Glasgow’s 'The Arches' was allocated £70,000. The Citizens’ Theatre in Glasgow expressed disappointment at a less-than-expected increase of £20,700, but welcomed the additional £70,000 for a new production next year. ‘Our 2.5 per cent increase in our core grant is helpful and better than the anticipated standstill,’ Fiona Sturgeon, Marketing Manager at the Citizens’, told the Glasgow Herald. ‘We will… get on with planning and do the best we can with what we have.’ Theatre Workshop, a company for and by people with disabilities, welcomed the European Year for the Disabled in with a budget doubled to £250,000, as well as core funding for the next two years. The National Youth Choir of Scotland also doubled its funding. Commenting on the budget, which comprised £38 million from the Scottish Executive and £22 million coming from National Lottery funds, SAC Director Graham Berry admitted that individual and smaller projects would suffer in light of increases to organisations. ‘The costs of this [increases to organisations] have been met by reducing the amount of money available to support individual or one-off projects,’ Berry said. ‘This is a short term action which cannot be sustained for more than two years, but has been necessary in order to meet our priority of sustaining the arts infrastructure.’ Meanwhile, speaking at the announcement of the budget in Edinburgh, SAC members called for a public inquiry into the way the arts are funded in Scotland. Scottish Arts Council Chairman, James Boyle, who was embroiled in a debate with an Executive minister over arts funding last week, supported the move. ‘If we don’t get the change we need in the next financial settlement, we will live to rue the day,’ Boyle said, according to a Scotsman newspaper report. 'We would be remiss not to put the idea to the Executive.' For more information about the 2003/04 budget, visit the Scottish Arts Council.