Culture still in middle of “perfect storm”

Nov 7 2023 | By More

Culture Committee’s damning report on Scot Gov’s culture policy.

The ‘perfect storm’ of financial pressures facing Scotland’s culture sector “has not abated” over the last year, according to a new report (here) from Scottish Parliament’s Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee.

Instead, the Scottish cultural sector is in the throes of what the Built Environment Forum Scotland called in its evidence “trickle-down failure” as the current budget allocations fail to provide the promised multi-year funding to larger companies and agencies, putting a plethora of smaller companies in imminent danger of collapse.

Clare Adamson MSP Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee. Pic: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

The Committee heard that while the ambitions of the Government’s culture strategy – which is over a year late in being updated – were laudable, it was not clear how these ambitions could be achieved within the level of resources provided to the sector.

Furthermore, there is a misalignment between the Scottish Government’s ambitions for the sector set out in its culture strategy and the funding it provides to support the sector, and that there has not been a clear sense of how the culture strategy informs budgetary decisions.

The Committee said that it is concerned that there has been limited progress to date on the Scottish Government’s 2021 Programme for Government commitment to “invest in much‐needed stability for the cultural organisations that we provide regular funding for, by agreeing 3-year funding settlements, to allow them to plan for a sustainable recovery”.

The recent £6.6 million cut to Creative Scotland’s budget – which had been removed after considerable public outcry but was reinstated this autumn – has left the agency less able to move forward to multi-year funding, as it has had to dig into the £17 million it has set aside for a move to multi-year funding, in order to ameliorate the cut.


The new report follows pre-budget scrutiny of the Scottish Government culture portfolio spend ahead of the Scottish Budget for 2024-25, which is expected to be announced to Parliament in December.

Title and introduction to report (click for full size)

Last year, the Committee found that the existing budgetary challenges facing the culture sector had become “much more acute”, contributed to by a “perfect storm” of long-term budget pressures, reduced income generation, and increased operating costs.

Twelve months on from that initial warning, the Committee have concluded that “this ‘perfect storm’ has not abated, with external and public funding pressures maintaining, and the culture sector remaining under significant financial strain and the risks to its future becoming more severe.”

At the same time, the Committee recognised that the Scottish Government continues to face a “challenging fiscal environment”.

The Committee says that there is an “urgent need” for the Scottish Government to restore the confidence of the culture sector as it continues to face significant budgetary pressures.


It therefore noted the recent commitment by the First Minister in response, to increase the Scottish Government’s investment in arts and culture by £100 million over the next five years. The Committee is now awaiting the detail of this funding commitment, with further information expected to be provided in the upcoming budget.

The Committee also found that both the initial cut to Creative Scotland’s grant-in-aid for 2023-24 in the draft Budget and, after it had been reversed, the reinstatement of that cut in the Autumn Budget Revision had “damaged an already fragile confidence” within the culture sector.

The report also considered what progress the Scottish Government had made in the last 12 months on taking forward innovative funding solutions in response to the challenges facing the culture sector, including government commitments on multi-year funding and cross-portfolio funding models.

The Committee highlighted that “very limited progress” had been made and called for “much greater urgency and a clear pathway to make tangible progress” on implementing these funding models.

Commenting on the report, Committee Convener Clare Adamson said: “The First Minister’s recent commitment to increase the Scottish Government’s investment in arts and culture by £100 million over the next five years comes as the Committee has been hearing from stakeholders across the culture sector of the significant financial challenges it continues to face.

“We heard that the ‘perfect storm’ facing the operating environment of the sector has not abated over the last 12 months, with external and public funding pressures maintaining; and that there has been very limited progress made on implementing innovative funding solutions to support the sector.

“Given this context, there was an urgent need for the Scottish Government to restore the confidence of Scotland’s culture sector.

“We look forward to receiving further details of the First Minister’s commitment to provide additional funding for arts and culture.”


The full report is available online: Click here.

It is also available to download as a pdf: Click here.


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