Artists and visual arts professionals have been expressing their opposition to Creative Scotland’s decision to withdraw regular funding from Transmission, Glasgow’s world renowned artist-run gallery.
The Creative Scotland decision was reported by a-n News on Thursday when Scotland’s arts funding body announced the 116 organisations that would be receiving regular funding for 2018-21. Transmission was one of 20 organisations dropped from what Creative Scotland is now calling its ‘regular funding network’.
Katrina Brown, director of the Glasgow gallery Common Guild and a former Transmission committee member, described the news as “shocking”. Brown, whose own organisation received standstill funding in the latest round, posted a series of tweets commenting on Creative Scotland’s regular funding of the visual arts.
Fiona Bradley, director of the regularly funded Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, tweeted that she was “Sad and perplexed for @transmo_gallery & others cut”, adding in a separate tweet that “I think we would all like a sense of the strategic thinking behind the [funding] decisions. Not clarification of the process, but an understanding of the strategy. If there is one?”
Appalling news that @transmo_gallery has had its funding cut by Creative Scotland. Took RCA students there last year and couldn’t emphasize enough to them how important its been to the development of the Glasgow art scene over the past 25–30 years. — Jeremy Millar (@jeremy_millar_1) January 26, 2018
The artist Jeremy Millar, a senior tutor at the Royal College of Art, tweeted: “Appalling news that @transmo_gallery has had its funding cut by Creative Scotland. Took RCA students there last year and couldn’t emphasize enough to them how important it’s been to the development of the Glasgow art scene over the past 25–30 years.”
He added: “And not just Glasgow: it was the place to which those of us working in the regions looked, rather than to London. It was both local and international. I owe much of the enthusiasm of my youth to those who were working there in early ’90s.”
Describing the loss of regularly funding as “an incredibly short sighted decision,” he continued: “Every single person involved in the arts in Glasgow has benefited from @transmo_gallery , whether directly – working there, showing there – or indirectly, through its raising of Glasgow’s game.”
Paul Thomson, drummer with the Glasgow band Franz Ferdinand, whose 2005 song Do You Want To? namechecks Transmission, tweeted: “Transmission Gallery has been at the heart of Glasgow’s art and music scenes for as long as I’ve been there, we even reference them in the DYWT lyrics. This is a dreadful decision by @CreativeScots.”
Transmission Gallery has been at the heart of Glasgow’s art and music scenes for as long as I’ve been there, we even reference them in the DYWT lyrics. This is a dreadful decision by @CreativeScots https://t.co/ZhZWb4Kvh5 — Paul Thomson (@pabsdebussy) January 29, 2018
Eoin Dara, head of exhibitions at Dundee Contemporary Arts – another regularly funded organisation – tweeted: “As an ex-director of @Catalyst_Arts, thinking also of Transmission’s reach beyond Scotland. Belfast’s contemporary art landscape would still be barren without Catalyst, an org based directly on Transmission’s constitutional model.”
Responding to the many comments on Twitter, Transmission posted on 27 January: “We really appreciate the multiple ways in which ppl have been reaching out and expressing support following CS’ decision to remove us from the RFO register. A full statement will be released sometime next week.”
Founded in 1983 by graduates of Glasgow School of Art, Transmission has played a central part in the city’s contemporary art for nearly 35 years. Its model of a rotating committee that changes every two years has been widely copied by artist-run organisations across the UK and beyond.
Last year, the current organising committee took the unprecedented move of postponing its annual members exhibition as they struggled to cope with the demands of this unpaid role and the need to earn a living. At the time, a statement sent to its 300-plus members said that a new way of running the gallery needed to be explored.
In a statement posted on the Creative Scotland website following the funding announcement, chief executive Janet Archer said: “We have now entered into a period of discussions with individual Regular Funding applicants, unsuccessful and successful, from across the art forms and creative areas that we support.
“All organisations coming out of Regular Funding will receive six months transition funding from April 2018. We will also discuss future options for funding with applicants who want to access advice and guidance from Creative Scotland over the coming months.”
There have been many other tweets and in response to Creative Scotland’s Transmission decision, some of which are below:
I was a committee member at @transmo_gallery 1997–99. The Arts Council (as was) were continually threatening to withdraw regular funding back then. CS obviously reckon they can get away with it now. — Otter (@rdallasgray) January 26, 2018
@transmo_gallery #TransmissionGallery in Glasgow where I learned to talk to the Arts Council, manage budgets, do my accounts, build walls, clean toilets and talk to the public has lost its funding in Creative Scotland’s 2018-21 round for regular funding #CriticalInfrastructure — Roddy Buchanan (@studioRJGB) January 26, 2018
Government agencies and bodies like @CreativeScots cast about looking to support ‘skills development’ and initiatives like ‘Year of Young People’ and the real thing is right in front of them. And cheap! https://t.co/tW9gRaojd1 — Katrina Brown (@KatrinaBrown) January 26, 2018
What is more appropriate for artist-led orgs than continuity of funding? Particularly in an org so integral (for over 30 years) to the grass roots culture of the city? @transmo_gallery@CreativeScotshttps://t.co/aMFUhDUKOQ — Jacqueline Donachie (@DonachieJack) January 25, 2018
Transmission Gallery, Glasgow. Photo: Chris Sharratt