Controversy continues over the decision by Scotland’s public arts agency to completely defund numerous cultural organizations.
Creative Scotland has come under mounting pressure from elected officials and cultural policy advocates to explain how the decision was reached to eliminate funding to 20 arts organizations, including the Glasgow art gallery Transmission, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, and the UNESCO City of Literature. The Scotsman reports that Creative Scotland’s interim chairman Ben Thomson asserted in January that the group unanimously agreed to the funding cuts, even though two Creative Scotland board members resigned due to the decision. In a testimony before Scottish Parliament’s cultural committee, longtime leader of the organization Janet Archer walked that characterization back, stating “the board has reflected on the use of the word unanimous on the minutes of the meeting in January and has now amended it to say it was a majority decision.” While Archer said she was “profoundly sorry that the delivery of this process has been such a negative one,” she rejected calls for an independent review of the organization, which saw its budget unexpectedly raised by £16.6 million last year. While Creative Scotland subsequently reversed five of the total funding cuts, many observers remain frustrated with the lack of transparency around the decision making process and why certain groups were defunded to begin with. “It is deeply worrying that these concerns are being expressed about an organization that manages public funds and we believe that it requires further scrutiny,” Joan McAlpine, a member of Scottish Parliament, said in the hearing.