Creative Scotland‘s deputy director Iain Munro has written to the heads of Scotland’s 118 regularly funded arts organisations (RFOs), telling them they won’t know their funding situation for 2018-21 until the end of January next year.
The move pushes back the already late announcement by another month; organisations were expecting to know the outcome of the latest funding round before Christmas.
The letter from Creative Scotland comes at a tense time for the country’s regularly funded arts organisations, which between them currently have a combined three-year budget of £100m. Creative Scotland has already primed the sector for cuts, including a reduction in the number of RFOs in the portfolio.
Current RFOs include: Centre for Contemporary Arts, The Common Guild, Tramway, and Transmission in Glasgow; the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, Collective Gallery, and Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh; Dundee Contemporary Arts; Peacock Visual Arts in Aberdeen; and Cove Park in Argyll and Bute.
In the letter, Munro explains that, with the Scottish government set to publish its draft budget on 14 December, Creative Scotland will find out what its budget settlement is either on or just after that date.
He continues: “At that point, we anticipate that further work will be required, regarding how the overall budget is allocated and the final profile of the proposed network of regularly funded organisations.
“We are committed to doing everything we can to announce these decisions as soon as possible after this but it is now clear that this will not be before Christmas. With this in mind, our planning now means we will announce decisions by the end of January 2018.”
Munro repeats in the letter that the level of funding is expected to go down: “This is in part because of the decline in income from the National Lottery and, as such, we still expect to fund fewer organisations than currently,” he says.
“It is likely to also mean that funding awards may not be at the levels requested by organisations, requiring time to negotiate revised plans and agree a funding contract. We therefore suggest that it may be helpful to consider planning a board meeting for your organisation shortly after our announcement of decisions, to reflect on the outcome.”
In recognition of the problems faced by organisations that still don’t know what funding they will have from April next year, Creative Scotland has stated that current RFOs will have their current contracts extended until the end of May 2018. Any organisations becoming RFOs for the first time will still be funded from 1 April 2018.
Responding to the climate of cuts and uncertainty over funding, an open letter from a number of Scottish arts figures has been published calling on the Scottish government to ‘continue to recognise the value of public funding of the arts’.
Transmission Gallery, Glasgow, photographed January 2017 and featuring How To Suffer Politely (And Other Etiquette), posters by Kameelah Janan Rasheed. Photo: Chris Sharratt