Scotland’s government will increase culture funding by £15.8 million (€18.2 million) next year as part of a five-year plan. Industry leaders say it falls short.

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Scotland’s government is boosting its budget for cultural initiatives next year, as part of a national push to invest more in the arts.

The government released 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 increased investment in Scotland’s culture and heritage will improve the resilience and sustainability of our culture sector and (…) will support our publicly funded culture bodies to deliver high-quality services, sustainably and equitably, that are fit for the future,” the proposed spending plan read.

The budget increase marks the first step towards the government’s goal of increasing arts funding by at least £100 million (€115.4 million) over the next five years.

The plan was announced by First Minister Humza Yousaf in October and would more than 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 the arts body lost in controversial budget cuts during the 2023/24 financial year. The remaining half would offset Creative Scotland’s shortfall in National Lottery funding.

Scotland’s national performing companies, including the National Theatre of Scotland, Scottish Opera and Scottish Ballet, will share another £300,000 (€346,000).

Funding increase falls short of industry needs, experts say

The budget announcement was met with mixed feelings from industry experts – with some saying the increase was too modest to make a difference.

“Once the cuts to Creative Scotland have been remedied, there is only £2.6 million (€3 million) of new cultural investment,” Jack Gamble, director of Campaign for the Arts, told UK arts publication 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 in Scotland’s arts and culture industries have repeatedly warned that the sector faces an unprecedented financial crisis, fuelled by rising costs and stalled public funding, which could threaten its very existence.

Creative Scotland, which regularly supports 121 Scottish arts organisations, said that one in three arts organisations were “at serious risk of insolvency in the short term” in September.

Deputy first minister and finance secretary Shona Robison said that the government was just getting started, and promised continued support and funding to the creative sector in the coming years.

“This is only the first step on the route to investing at least £100 million (€115.4 million) more in the arts and culture by 2028/29, and our aim to increase arts and culture investment in 2025/26 by at least a further £25 million (€28.8 million),” Robinson said.



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