The Scottish Government will increase culture funding by £15.8m (€18.2m) next year as part of a five-year plan. Industry leaders say it falls short.
The Scottish Government will increase the budget for cultural initiatives next year, as part of a national push to invest more in the arts.
The Government published its 2024-2025 budget on Wednesday (20 December), announcing an increase in funding for culture and heritage of £15.8 million (€18.2 million).
“Our continued and growing investment in Scottish culture and heritage will improve the resilience and sustainability of our cultural sector and (…) support our publicly funded cultural bodies to deliver high quality services, sustainably and equitably , fit for the future”, we read in the proposed spending plan.
The budget increase marks the first step towards the Government’s aim of increasing funding for the arts by at least £100 million (€115.4 million) over the next five years.
The plan was announced by Prime Minister Humza Yousaf in October and would double the government’s current contribution to the creative sector.
According to the budget breakdown, £13.2 million (€15.3 million) would be distributed to Creative Scotland, the public body that supports the arts and creative industries across the country.
Half of the money (£6.6 million, or €7.6 million) would restore the amount lost by the arts body due to controversial budget cuts during the 2023/24 financial year. The remaining half would make up Creative Scotland’s shortfall in National Lottery funding.
Scotland’s national companies, including the National Theater of Scotland, Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet, will share a further £300,000 (€346,000).
The increased funding is not enough to meet the industry’s needs, experts say
The budget announcement was met with mixed feelings from industry experts: some said the increase was too modest to make a difference.
“Once the cuts to Creative Scotland are resolved, there will only be £2.6m (€3m) of new cultural investment,” Jack Gamble, director of Campaign for the Arts, told the British arts magazine The stage.
“Amid a perfect storm of challenges for artists and organisations, the Scottish Government needs to go much further, much faster,” he said.
Leaders of Scotland’s arts and culture industries have repeatedly warned that the sector faces an unprecedented financial crisis, fueled by rising costs and stalling public funding, which could threaten its very existence.
Creative Scotland, which regularly supports 121 Scottish arts organisations, said that one in three arts organizations were “at serious risk of short-term insolvency” in September.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Secretary Shona Robison said the Government was just getting started and promised continued support and funding for the creative sector over the coming years.
“This is just the first step on the road to investing at least £100 million (€115.4 million) more in arts and culture by 2028/29, and our aim is to increase investment in arts and culture in 2025/26 at least one year. a further £25m (€28.8m),” Robinson said.