Strident has made recommendations to the Arts Funding Inquiry that address Creative Scotland’s role as the main arts funder in Scotland and specifically the operation of its Open Project Fund (OPF).

Creative Scotland’s remit needs to be: to curate a creative ecosystem from which high-quality work emerges sustainably.

Strident recommendation

Our report addresses critical issues that Creative Scotland has not addressed.

Key Strident recommendations include that Creative Scotland should:

– redefine its remit;
– only fund need, not greed;
– take account of previous funding when considering new funding; and
– insist that applicants comply with Companies House/OSCR filing legislation. No compliance: no funding.

The Culture, Trade, Europe & External Affairs (CTEEA) Committee of the Scottish Parliament is considering how arts funding should adapt to the changing economic environment and anticipated reduction in funding from National Lottery sources.

Our evidence will be published in full by the Committee shortly. For now, here are the Conclusions from our report.

CONCLUSIONS

Creative Scotland’s remit needs to be: to curate a creative ecosystem from which high-quality work emerges sustainably.

Every funding decision CS makes should be capable of justification relative to that remit.

Applicants should only ever be funded because they NEED funding, not because they WANT it. A ‘prevention and cure approach’ should be taken to ensure this.

CS must recognise context when considering funding applications. It cannot ignore previous grants when considering further applications.

Lack of ability to invest in structure is a significant growth-inhibitor. CS should recognise the need to fund structure as well as projects. Structure enables projects.

Where CS funds investment in assets intended to be income-generating, it is actually funding an applicant’s potential to grow. Consequently, CS should accept that there comes a point at which such applicants have had their fair share of opportunities. CS’s remit should be to curate the ecosystem; funding in perpetuity acts against that remit. It risks CS being perceived as a competitor in markets where funding is invested in income-generating assets.

CS should publish annual sector funding analyses. They will demonstrate how the remit has been pursued but also address the perception that CS has favourites.

CS must insist that those it funds comply with the law (e.g. Companies Act and Charities Act). It should never fund an applicant knowing there is non-compliance and should have the confidence to withhold or recover funding. We urge the Scottish Government to require and empower CS to bring about this change in attitude.

Similarly, CS should be prepared to use its power as a funder to deny/recover funding where there is a conflict of interest. CS’s primary responsibility is to the Scottish Government/National Lottery, not to applicants’ shareholders.

CS should be able to commission, but only where there is a serious market failure. Commissioning should be seen as an opportunity to curate a sector as well as a means of correcting a market failure.

We urge the CTEEA Committee not to fixate on whether CS funds individuals or organisations. Any number will be arbitrary. Focusing on the proposed remit will require CS to channel funding as the sector needs.