Saturday, March 10, 2018

Failing to be nice about Creative Scotland

I've been trying very hard not to be rude about Creative Scotland. Knowing that good, intelligent and caring people work for the organisation and that they have an impossible task to perform.

But the other night I heard that the Scottish Youth Theatre is closing because Creative Scotland cut their grant, and it was as if all the frustration accumulated over thirty years of working in the professional theatre, and dealing with over thirty years of Creative Scotland and Scottish Arts Council decisions, and trying to keep on creating in spite of them... as if over thirty years worth of frustration burst their banks and I found myself angrily tweeting and facebooking away with everyone else.

The worst frustrations invariably occurred when I was on the Board of companies who had to make applications for funding. We would toil and agonise over these wretched funding applications and then almost invariably not get the money, and eventually I learnt to somehow calm myself with the thought that the main purpose of the organisation was not to promote or encourage artistic production but simply to ensure its own survival.

And with that their decisions, which had previously seemed absurd, now began to make a little more sense.

But this year's decisions about theatre companies make no sense at all. They certainly didn't help themselves this week by subsequently putting out a pained statement expressing their disappointment at the (utterly predictable) decision by the Scottish Youth Theatre as if it had nothing to do with their actions.

This was so inept and so contemptible I found myself shouting at the computer screen.

Once I'd calmed down a bit, I understood that in a way I don't object to them cutting their funding to the SYT. In essence, it's their job to take these decisions difficult as they often are.

And if they'd decided the Company weren't fulfilling their remit, then they had every right to cut their funding.

What i cannot stand is their refusal to explain their decisions.

They never have and they never do.

What this decision has done is spark a debate about about how a youth theatre can best operate, and that at least has to be a good thing. Provided people listen.

But in the meantime, as for Creative Scotland, I cannot bring myself to be remotely nice about them.

I don't even want their money...
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