4 December 2017back

Arts, heritage and business voices unite to urge Scottish culture funding to be protected

More than 120 individuals representing organisations spanning the arts, heritage and business communities throughout Scotland have co-signed a letter that urges the Scottish Government to protect funding for the cultural sector in next year’s Scottish budget, due to be presented to the Scottish Parliament on Thursday the 14th December.

The letter has been organised by independent charity Arts & Business Scotland and highlights key benefits the cultural sector brings to Scotland’s economy in terms of jobs and financial added value and to wider society in areas including education, justice and community cohesion.

Scotland’s creative industries are estimated to contribute £4.6 billion annually to the Scottish economy, supporting 84,000 jobs. Meanwhile, with tourism worth around £11 billion to the Scottish economy each year, VisitScotland’s annual visitor survey shows that a third of tourists visiting Scotland are inspired to do so by the country’s culture and heritage.

The letter also emphasises the substantial benefits of collaboration between the cultural sector and Scotland’s business community with creativity rapidly moving up the international list of key skills for business. Published at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2016, the Future of Jobs report shows that, in a list of the top ten most important skills for businesses, creativity is set to move from tenth place in 2015 to third place by 2020, making the case in favour of closer collaboration between business and culture stronger than ever.

The letter goes on to point out that, at £325 million, total spending on culture, tourism and external affairs represents less than 1% of the current Scottish budget for 2017-18. On this basis and given the huge added value the cultural sector brings to Scotland’s economy, society and business community, signatories to the letter argue that public investment in culture offers outstanding value for money.

With other sources of cultural funding including Lottery funding and local authority spending under ongoing pressure, the letter concludes by making the case that Scottish Government revenue funding for culture may need to increase simply to maintain the status quo within the Scottish cultural sector. It suggests that a modest increase in public funding for the sector would enable Scotland’s core cultural infrastructure to survive and thrive.

Commenting on the letter, Arts & Business Scotland Chief Executive David Watt said:

“This letter demonstrates the strength of concern amongst our members that future funding for culture is at real risk as part of this year’s Scottish budget negotiations – and the devastating impact a cut in funding would have for arts and heritage organisations throughout the length and breadth of Scotland.

“Aside from this, I think we are able to make a compelling case that the cultural sector is actually already punching significantly above its weight when it comes to addressing a wide range of Scottish Government priorities. Scotland’s culture and heritage is a key selling point when it comes to marketing Scotland as a global tourist destination, thereby supporting a tourism industry that is worth £11 billion annually to the Scottish economy. Our creative industries contribute £4.6 billion annually to the Scottish economy and support 84,000 jobs. With a range of businesses co-signing this letter, it’s clear that Scotland’s business community recognises the significant added value the cultural sector has to offer as well – be that in terms of exchanging skills and ideas, improving the health and wellbeing of our workforce or attracting global business talent by helping to make Scotland an attractive place to live and work.”

David Watt concluded:

“Set in that context, it’s clear that the small percentage of the Scottish budget invested each year in the cultural sector offers outstanding value for money. As a minimum, that funding must be protected as part of next year’s Scottish budget settlement. But beyond that, with other categories of cultural funding under sustained pressure, a modest increase in Scottish Government funding for culture would enable Scotland’s core cultural infrastructure to survive and thrive.”

One of the business representatives to have co-signed the letter, Calum Bennie, Communications Manager at Scottish Friendly Assurance said:

“A vibrant cultural scene is at the heart of any successful town, village or city. It gives sustenance to residents and employees and is a key factor in attracting visitors, businesses and new employees. For all these reasons Scottish Friendly continues to thrive in Glasgow because the city's cultural scene thrives. And in turn Scottish Friendly has been and continues to be a supporter of culture in Scotland.”

Brian Inkster, CEO of Inksters Solicitors added:

“We have partnered with a number of arts organisations to great effect. It is extremely important for Scotland to have a vibrant cultural sector and there must be public financial support to achieve and maintain that. Businesses can then add to that by additional support to give the cultural sector an extra boost but that is unlikely to happen if the basic public support is not there in the first place.”

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