Scottish Budget 2019-20: Our letter to Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism & External Affairs
This week, Culture Counts wrote to Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism & External Affairs, in advance of the Scottish Budget 2019-20.
Culture Counts works on behalf of a group of core members to place culture at the heart of policy making.
Collectively we increase the profile of culture; aligning, aggregating and amplifying the sector across policy areas.
We are particularly keen to see a budgeting approach which recognises the wider impact of culture on the health and wellbeing of our citizens.
Local Spending Research
Culture Counts has recently been researching culture spend at local level. While we are aware that it is not the role of national government to scrutinise local government, we think the scale of the issues involved now requires strategy and investment from national government.
Local Authority budgets for the cultural sector have been subject to a steep decline since 2008. Local Culture Services expenditure in 2008/09 was £485M; by 2016/17 this had dropped to £412M – a loss of £73M over eight years, not including inflation. As a consequence most authorities now charge for services, which actively works against improving equal access to and participation in the arts and cultural activities that are so important to community cohesion and personal happiness.
We believe that a match funding incentive could be a successful mechanism to help culture to win the argument for investment at local level. Ireland has recently invested in an innovative agreement between Arts Council Ireland and the County and City Management Association, where the national body works in collaboration with local authorities to support culture at local level. We think this is a model which merits further exploration, and which might be able to build on existing activity in Scotland.
We propose that Scottish Government allocate and ring-fence national match-funding investment to support and expand place priorities such as the place partnerships programme. Whilst this would not make up the deficit in local cultural funding outlined above, we believe it could make a radical difference by ensuring that all parts of Scotland have equal opportunity to generate a cultural infrastructure that will work now and into the future to improve local provision and access.
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