29 June 2022back

Arts & Business Scotland Chair expresses disappointment following a 33% reduction to its Culture and Business Scotland Fund

DATE: 29.06.2022


Arts & Business Scotland (A&BS) Chair, Diana Murray CBE, expresses disappointment following a 33% reduction to its Culture and Business Scotland Fund [that incentivises cross sector partnership working] and stresses the value of collaboration between culture and business

Following a 33% reduction announced last month by the Scottish Government to a fund administered by A&BS, which matches business support for culture and heritage projects, the charity’s Chair, Diana Murray CBE, has written to the Scottish Government to express concern at this decision and to stress commitment to cross sector collaboration and investment by business in culture as a key contributor to Scotland’s social and economic renewal and transformation.

The letter states (extract below):

‘The Culture and Business Fund Scotland (CBFS) is a proven, unique catalyst for establishing mutually beneficial partnerships between businesses and culture organisations. The fund has demonstrably increased business sector confidence and trust in the culture sector as a viable partner. Each £ pound of funding has generated at least an additional £ pound of business investment. 

The loss of £100,000 to the CBFS (a 33% cut for 2022-23 from £300,00 to £200,000) will represent a total reduction of upwards of £300,000 to arts, cultural and heritage bodies diminishing substantially their vital contribution to the health and wellbeing of the communities they serve.

Since its launch in April 2017, over £2.5 million has been invested in 149 cultural projects with £1.4 million of that investment coming from business. In other words, we have attracted £1.21 of business investment for every £1 of public funds distributed - an enviable leverage rate. 

Of course, A&BS acknowledges that the Scottish Government has had to make hard financial choices in its 2022-23 Budget and that the fiscal challenges it faces are huge.  However, as made clear in the introduction to the Culture Strategy for Scotland in February 2020 ‘By investing in and strengthening culture, we are investing in the future cultural, social and economic success of Scotland.’  Also, as Fiona Hyslop MSP, the then Culture secretary stated in the same strategy ‘We want to harness the power of culture to strengthen communities and to transform lives, to improve health and wellbeing; to contribute to growing the economy with products, services, jobs, and investment and to bring creative approaches to design better communities.’

These sentiments were reinforced in the recently launched National Strategy for Economic Transformation where Kate Forbes MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy, highlighted the need for focused interventions, in collaboration with businesses, to build on our strength in creative industries in support of delivering a more prosperous, productive, and competitive economy.’

Diana commented further:

“It would be entirely reasonable for business leaders who want to invest in the country’s cultural vitality by partnering through the CBFS to think again about doing so with this match funding incentive being withdrawn. But I urge businesses to continue to support and collaborate with their culture sector partners.

The CBFS provides an efficient lever for additional investment from non-public funds to support wide ranging cultural activities for the benefit of communities across Scotland. We are committed to working together to ensure that these laudable ambitions are not jeopardised going forward and that the business and public sectors’ confidence in the culture sector as a viable partner continues to grow.” 

David Watt, CEO of A&BS stated: “As a result of the budget cut, we regret that we have had to announce the closure of the CBFS for 2022-23 and no further applications can be made for funding before April 2023. Unfortunately, this budget reduction will impact negatively on the fulfilment, scale, or ambition of cultural activities due to be delivered across the country. Applications to the CBFS from inspiring projects in North Berwick, Melrose, Leith, Nairn, Stirling, Dumfries & Galloway as well as Edinburgh and Glasgow will either receive reduced or no funding support. Many of those existing, and other potential future applicants have been in touch to share their concerns about this funding decision.”

“CBFS match funding has helped Bloody Scotland build a stronger, innovative, and collaborative relationship with business partner Glencairn Glass.  We hoped an award in 2022 would help us cement an already important relationship and extend it beyond its initial term.  So, the pause in funding is a disappointment and it comes at a time when arts organisations in Scotland are still facing big challenges - uncertainty on ticket sales and increased costs of hybrid delivery to amplify our new-found digital reach." Bob McDevitt, Festival Director, Bloody Scotland

"We are delighted with the relationship we have established with Bloody Scotland. It is disappointing to hear that the matched funding may not be available. We know that this funding has been highly beneficial to Bloody Scotland to date, allowing them to adopt a more innovative and engaging approach to our relationship to the benefit of the festival, along with easing the financial pressures of running a festival in such times of uncertainty."   Kirsty Nicholson, Design and Marketing Manager, Glencairn Crystal Studio (Bloody Scotland business partner)

The partnerships supported through the CBFS help to strengthen communities and to transform lives. Many of these cultural experiences improve health and wellbeing. Others contribute to growing the economy by enabling cultural tourism.

A&BS is working to ensure that the value and return on establishing creative partnerships for business is fully understood to increase the commercial sector’s confidence and trust in the culture sector as a viable partner. This will add to the building blocks of success achieved to date in enabling the sectors to connect and thrive.

Encouraging business investment in culture helps to backfill public sector budget cuts, and at the same time, provide business benefits that include new market opportunities and the growing concern of ensuring the health and wellbeing of employees.’  

Further information:

contact David Watt, CEO, A&BS   

email: contactus@aandbscotland.org.uk   

Notes to editors: 

About Arts & Business Scotland: 
Arts & Business Scotland in an independent charity that exists to embed business into culture and creativity into business, ensuring vibrant and sustainable cultural experiences for people across the length and breadth of Scotland. 

Through our cross-sector membership and broader stakeholder relationships, we act as a unique conduit between the culture and business sector encouraging collaboration for mutual benefit. 

A fact endorsed by the Scottish Government in their Culture Strategy for Scotland in February 2020, which states that: “By investing in and strengthening culture, we are investing in the future cultural, social and economic success of Scotland.” 

A selection of other CBFS recipient and applicant responses to the news of the reduction in grant and premature closing of this funding opportunity:

"CBFS match-funding has provided a crucial injection of funds to the Borders Book Festival, enabling us to initiate and nurture mutually beneficial partnerships with sponsors.  Over 19 years, the festival has grown to be one of the country's top three book festivals, returning an economic impact of £2.3million to the community, the year before Covid hit.  The potential for CBFS match-funding has helped to secure many enduring ​partnerships, including three vital new local sponsors for us in 2021, a year in which several others had been forced to withdraw due to the impact of the pandemic. To hear, just four days before the 2022 festival, that this strand of funding is in jeopardy is a shock, not just for the sponsors and the festival, but the whole community, who came back in their thousands, to enjoy it in June." Alistair Moffat, Director, the Borders Book Festival

 “We hugely value the support A&BS has given Edinburgh Science Festival over the years by matching the funding from some of our corporate supporters. The lower than anticipated award for them from the government is regrettable especially at a time when cultural organisations are having to deal with uncertainty related to Covid and absorbing the impacts of inflation including wage rises. We very much hope that future settlements enable A&BS to return to maximising their impact on the cultural sector.” Dr Simon Gage OBE, CEO, Edinburgh Science

“It is hugely disappointing and frustrating that the Culture and Business Fund has been paused. As all sectors seek to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, the Fund has been a crucial bridge between cultural organisations and the business community, enabling a greater range of work to be undertaken and more people to participate in and benefit from culture in all its guises. For Edinburgh International Film Festival, it means that we will be able to do less than planned and fewer individuals and communities will be able to access our programmes.” Fiona Carr, Head of Development, The Centre for the Moving Image incorporating Edinburgh International Film Festival, Filmhouse, and Belmont Filmhouse

“It is quite unfortunate that despite the fact that arts-based activity has been at a standstill over the past 2.5 years, instead of supporting the sectors recovery, the Scottish Government have reduced the allocation of funding to the programme. There is meant to be a post covid national agenda on improving the well-being of people, the creative arts sector has a significant role to play towards this, therefore this decision is disappointing.”  Tariq Mahmood, Chair, Sufi Festival

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