Friday, January 26, 2018

we all need to be creative about creative funding

There are powerful currents of outrage swirling around the Scottish theatre community just now. Creative Scotland, the Scottish government body responsible for funding the arts, has just announced its choices of which companies are receiving fixed term funding for the next three years.

As always, this is causing furious outrage, deep hurt and total confusion.

It always does. I have to try hard not to get caught up in it.

I have my own memories of discovering that theatre companies who were given funding to commission a play from me have then be denied the funding to produce it. And I've written so many angry letters in the past about it.

And the people I know who work for Creative Scotland are intelligent good hearted individuals who care deeply for the art forms they are trying to administer funds for. I haven't the heart to join in the chorus of condemnation against them.

I'm aware, too, of how arts practitioners in countries like Brazil and the USA envy us for having an organisation like Creative Scotland that attempts, in all its imperfections, to distribute arts funding in an equitable way.

And they envy us for living in a country that apparently values the contribution artists make to society.

But this doesn't help me, really. I feel sad for the fine artists of the companies whose funding has been cut, for no very good reason. And whose distress is now probably compounded by the confusion of the discovery that there may be another new touring fund coming on stream that will rescue them.

I think about my own theatre company, Queen Jesus Plays, that tiny group of 4 of us who I so love and cherish. And how we've structured the Queen Jesus play so as to be able to function as far as possible without public funding. And how that also hampers our activities...

I don't know what the answer is to any of it.

Except that we mustn't be content with just hurling insults at the authorities. The fury is justified, but we need to get past it.

We need to be creative in identifying more effective funding models that truly respect artistic activity and address the structural problems that cause us such intractable economic difficulties.

And then get on with the business of making them happen...

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