The language of funding emerged as one of the main themes at the Artists’ Open Space event in Edinburgh on Friday 26 October. Taking place at arts funding body Creative Scotland’s Waverly Gate offices, the event was independently organised and led by Edinburgh-based writer and director Jen McGregor. The meeting addressed concerns such as the transparency of Creative Scotland and whether the right people are making the right funding decisions.
An open plan approach in the morning facilitated closer discussion in several afternoon sessions, tackling the artists’ place in how decisions are qualified and quantified. Much discussion in turn focused on how we should refer to the way practitioners in Scotland are paid; whether they’re supported; subsidised; or invested in. This confusion over language has created mistrust in Creative Scotland by many working within the creative sector.
The topic ‘Work and pay for Scottish-based practitioners’ generated a lively debate, with contributions from Creative Scotland’s Chief Executive Andrew Dixon and Marketing and Information officer Nick Wong. The resounding opinion was that clarity in language was paramount, and that Creative Scotland needs to act efficiently in restructuring its literature and administration. It’s a view that the organisation appears to have taken on board.
Dixon commented: “A rewriting of our literature needs to speak the artists’ language… We are now working directly with the artists and writers we want to support, to restructure the funding process, how it is navigated and completed, right down to the terms we use on our application forms, in time for April 2013.”
The idea of cultural value, and how it affects funding decisions, was another area that prompted interesting discussion. Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA) director Clive Gillman, who was present for the morning and afternoon session, said: “Politicians have little tact in pushing the debate of what cultural value is, and what it needs to be, beyond economic significance. The value of culture is the value of the amateur who adds structure to creative activity. Creative Scotland needs to facilitate this debate and incorporate both the artists’ idea of their own value and contribution, as well as the audiences’ idea of cultural wealth.”
A further public meeting addressing issues around Creative Scotland and arts funding in Scotland takes place today (31 October), at Tramway, Glasgow. It poses two key questions: ‘Where would you like arts and culture in Scotland to be in 10 years time?’ and ‘What support structure would it take to make that happen now?’
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