- The Presiding Officer (Alex Fergusson):
The next item of business is a debate on motion S3M-2028, in the name of Linda Fabby—I mean Linda Fabiani—on the Creative Scotland Bill.
- The Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture (Linda Fabiani):
That was terribly nice of you, Presiding Officer.
I am glad to be here this afternoon to ask the Parliament to agree to the general principles of the Creative Scotland Bill. I reiterate why the Government is promoting the bill, and promoting it now. In Scotland we have a dynamic, successful and internationally renowned cultural life. Our artists, writers, film makers, musicians and practitioners of all kinds are celebrated across the world. Our festivals, including the Edinburgh international film festival, which begins tonight, are world class in every sense of the word.
In every part of Scotland, communities celebrate their identity through culture. Local authorities, volunteers and many others bring enjoyment and fulfilment through cultural activities. Our creative enterprises are breaking into new markets across the world. They now support 60,000 jobs and contribute over £4 billion to the wealth of Scotland. Because of those successes and our ambitions for the future, we think that the time is right for the bill.
We want Scotland to be recognised as Europe's most creative nation—a nation that attracts and retains talent and in which the arts and our creative community are supported and celebrated and their contribution to the economy is maximised. It would not have been sufficient for us to pursue our aims through a reform of one or other of the existing bodies, or through a merger. Make do and mend will not do for our ambitions—we want a new body with modern functions and new objectives. We want creative Scotland to inspire an excellence that is the leading, confident edge of an aspirant nation.
I turn to the bill and to what creative Scotland will do, how it will innovate and with whom it will work in partnership. I record my thanks to the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee, the Finance Committee and the Subordinate Legislation Committee for their consideration of the bill. In my comments, I will try to offer the clarification that colleagues have sought.
Creative Scotland will be our national development body for the arts and culture, working with partners to support the creative industries. Its remit will encompass all the present functions and activities of the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen, including the promotion of the arts, culture, film and screen. We envisage four roles for creative Scotland. First, it will promote an increasingly wide understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the arts and culture. Secondly, it will identify, support and develop talent and excellence in the arts and culture. Thirdly, it will seek to realise all the benefits of the arts and culture. Fourthly, it will work with partners to support the creative industries.
Creative Scotland will promote the enjoyment of the arts and culture. Much good work is already under way in that area. Scottish Screen has promoted and invested in the innovative use of digital technologies to make cinema accessible to audiences across Scotland. The Scottish Arts Council has supported groundbreaking work; creative Scotland will build on those successes and will work closely with local authorities and the voluntary sector.
Local authorities have the primary responsibility for making available adequate provision of cultural activities in their area, but creative Scotland and the Scottish Government will add value through the dissemination of good practice from across Scotland and other countries and the provision of financial support for the excellent work of creative organisations. The acting chief executive of the Scottish Arts Council is working with the Scottish Government and representatives of local government to develop guidance notes for community planning partnerships that aim to widen access to culture locally. Creative Scotland will build on and widen those links.
Creative Scotland will continue to make capital investments in Scotland's cultural infrastructure and will work closely with the voluntary sector. It will build on the work that is under way to promote wider cultural access through volunteering and partner organisations in the third sector.
- Jeremy Purvis (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale) (LD):
To what provisions in the local authority single outcome agreements that are due to be completed by the end of this month will the Government be able to point as evidence that it has contributed to local arts development?
- Linda Fabiani:
Culture is embedded in everything that the Government stands for. Local authorities already have statutory responsibility for the promotion of culture and arts in their areas. That will be enhanced by the work that we will do in partnership with local authorities through the single outcome agreements.
I expect creative Scotland's role in relation to creative talent and excellence to be the body's special contribution to Scotland's success. As I said in my statement to Parliament last year, creative Scotland will be free to take risks in identifying, supporting and developing talent and excellence in the arts and culture. The choice of individuals, groups or organisations that creative Scotland supports will be entirely a matter for its artistic and cultural judgement. The bill gives statutory protection to the arms-length principle, while, as the lead committee concluded, retaining an appropriate degree of accountability that allows the public interest to be safeguarded.
Creative Scotland will add to the range of funding sources that is available to artists and creative practitioners. As well as grants, it will develop a wider portfolio of funding methods, including loans and other investments. It will play a critical role in supporting Scotland's creative industries.
When I gave evidence to the committee, I had just received the report of the creative industries working group. I have now considered that report and confirm that the Government has accepted each of its recommendations, which envisage exactly the ambitious and creative partnership working that will be crucial to creative Scotland's success. That partnership will be represented in a creative industries forum convened by creative Scotland. The forum will act as a catalyst, bringing together the public bodies that are involved in supporting the creative industries to ensure that services are effectively co-ordinated, and to share intelligence in a way that will stimulate innovation. Its first task will be to develop a route map for creative entrepreneurs that shows how to access services easily and make the best of them. I am pleased to say that all the national bodies that are involved are committed to the forum, and I will extend an invitation to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities to take part, too.
Creative Scotland will continue to evolve complementary specialist advice and information services for creative enterprises. In order for it to do that, I can confirm today that the resources that are devoted to that purpose by Scottish Enterprise will, from the beginning of the next financial year, transfer to creative Scotland. I hope that what I have said has helped colleagues to better understand the role that we envisage for creative Scotland.
Although I have offered some of the greater detail that was sought by the committee, I should be clear that the Government believes strongly that the legislation that establishes the new body should not be loaded down with limiting prescriptive operational details.
- Ken Macintosh (Eastwood) (Lab):
Will the minister take an intervention?
- Linda Fabiani:
No. I have to get on.
The legislation is intended to provide a framework within which creative Scotland can work with partners to fulfil its potential and give creativity in Scotland the support and inspiration that it demands. The arts, culture and the creative industries in Scotland will be best served if the Parliament sets creative Scotland ambitious objectives, while giving it freedom to tackle those objectives as creatively as possible.
The creative Scotland transition team is working with the Government and many other partners to devise new approaches to supporting practitioners and organisations, encouraging participation and realising the benefits of the arts and culture. I look forward to those streams of inventive work coming to fruition. When they do, I assure the Parliament that creative Scotland will have the Government's support to realise its ambitions.
In closing, I announce that, if the Parliament approves its establishment, the Government will make new money available to creative Scotland to pursue new ideas. The Government has already confirmed that creative Scotland will inherit the annual £50 million grant in aid that is awarded to the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen. However, we will also make available to creative Scotland over its first two years an extra £5 million. We will make that new money available in a creative Scotland innovation fund. As ideas emerge and are agreed for new ways for creative Scotland to pursue its ambitions, the Government will make available resources from the fund to invest in Scotland's creativity and success.
- Ken Macintosh:
On a point of clarification, Presiding Officer.
- Linda Fabiani:
I am just about finished, Presiding Officer.
- The Presiding Officer:
You have a full minute left.
- Ken Macintosh:
On a point of clarification, minister. I welcome the extra £5 million, but the minister said that the creative industries budget will be transferred from Scottish Enterprise to the new body. How much money is involved in that? Is it over and above the £50 million and over and above the additional £5 million?
- Linda Fabiani:
I can clarify that it is separate. I will probably come back to that point, because I imagine that there will be questions in the course of the debate.
Creative Scotland will get the boost that it needs at its establishment to realise our ambitions. It will nurture and celebrate new streams of talent, inspire creativity, and play its role in the success and happiness of a healthier and wealthier Scotland. For all those possibilities and many more that are yet undiscovered, I commend the bill to the Parliament.
That the Parliament agrees to the general principles of the Creative Scotland Bill.
- Karen Whitefield (Airdrie and Shotts) (Lab):
I welcome the opportunity to speak in this debate on behalf of the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee. I thank those who helped the committee to scrutinise the bill effectively, particularly all those who gave written and oral evidence to the committee. They provided a broad perspective on the bill and acted as an excellent catalyst for committee members to examine a concept as nebulous and hard to pin down as culture. I thank, too, the committee clerks for their hard work and commitment in preparing our stage 1 report. Finally, I thank the members of the Subordinate Legislation Committee and the Finance Committee for their reports on the bill.
From the outset, let me say that the whole committee and I welcomed the broad thrust of the bill. Scotland has a proud cultural heritage and it is important that we do all we can to ensure that our cultural life remains vital, vibrant and challenging. The amalgamation of the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen into creative Scotland is eminently sensible and should provide opportunities for a more seamless approach to supporting the arts.
Getting a grip on what we mean by the word "culture" is slightly more difficult; indeed, our report acknowledges that. Recently, I heard Andrew Marr say that there is what we do to provide ourselves with shelter and food, and the rest is what we could describe as culture. I have some sympathy with that view. However, others have loftier and more aspirational views of culture. Karl Kraus, the Austrian satirist, said:
"Culture is the tacit agreement to let the means of subsistence disappear behind the purpose of existence. Civilisation is the subordination of the latter to the former."
I am sure that we could have debated the definition of culture forever. However, I am glad that the Scottish Government decided that it was best to avoid being overly prescriptive about a definition. Some who gave evidence felt that that was a shortcoming in the bill, but, on balance, the committee agreed with that approach. We do not want to deliver a piece of legislation that, now or at some point in the future, provides a barrier to the development of the arts or Scottish culture. However, the committee feels that interpretation of terms such as "the arts" and "culture" is significant for how creative Scotland delivers its functions.
Having started on a positive note, I must turn to some of the quite serious concerns on which the majority of the committee agreed. Indeed, other committees raised those concerns in their consideration of the bill. The concerns fall into a number of categories, including financial considerations; partnership working and the sharing and division of responsibilities; and the role of education, higher education and local authorities. However, those varied concerns can be summed up under the general comment that the bill lacks the detail that we on the committee and the people in the world of arts and culture expected to see.
The most striking example of that was the financial memorandum that accompanied the bill, which was so poorly researched and lacking in detail that the Finance Committee commented that it was
"the weakest that has been produced in the current parliamentary session."
Therefore, I welcome the minister's announcement that additional funding will be provided. Linda Fabiani has listened to the committees of the Parliament and in particular to the Finance Committee's concerns. The Finance Committee and the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee expressed serious concern that, although the range of work that the new body would be asked to do would be wider than the range of work that is currently undertaken by the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen, there would be no commensurate increase in funding. Such concerns were reiterated by many witnesses who gave evidence to the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee. I am pleased that the minister has reflected on the matter, although a number of questions remain and we will need to tease out the detail on how the £5 million will be spent.
It is unfortunate that there was also a lack of clarity about financial support to creative Scotland in the context of its role of supporting creative industries. The minister mentioned that issue. In evidence to the committee, Dr Richard Holloway, the chair of the joint board of the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen, said that he anticipated that money would be transferred to creative Scotland. However, Adrian Gillespie, from Scottish Enterprise, told the committee:
"I do not expect our discussions to result in budget transfer, because that is not what we are talking about."
When the minister gave evidence to the committee, she said that the issue was
"currently being discussed as we move forward."—[Official Report, Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee, 14 May 2008; c 1005, 1030.]
The committee set out its position clearly on the matter in its stage 1 report. We said that we were concerned about
"contradictory evidence received on the transfer of resources",
"Creative Scotland is being asked to do more with a diminishing budget".
I hope that the minister will ensure that the committee's concerns are fully addressed.
Problems to do with the relationship between creative Scotland and enterprise agencies are not all directly related to finance. The committee had serious concerns about the lack of clarity about those bodies' relative roles and functions. In particular, we were not satisfied that it is sufficiently clear which will be the lead agency for the creative industries. We sought clarification on what is meant by the assertion that creative Scotland will have a "leading advocacy role" in relation to the creative industries.
The committee expressed similar concern about the potential for overlap between the work of local authorities and the work of creative Scotland. It is important that the bill and its accompanying documents set out a framework for productive partnership working between creative Scotland and our local authorities. It is important to acknowledge that our schools play a major part in introducing all Scotland's children and young people to the arts.
We must also acknowledge the wide-ranging and innovative community arts services that local authorities offer. For example, in Airdrie in my constituency the @Home project provides local young people with recording and rehearsal facilities as well as a ready-made venue for bands that have reached a sufficient standard. Similar projects exist throughout Scotland. We must ensure that creative Scotland plays its part in supporting and nurturing such projects, from which artists can emerge. For that reason, in its report the committee asked the minister to explain how she envisages the development of the relationship between creative Scotland and local government and—this is important—to say what resources will be provided to enable local authorities to play a full role in supporting the arts and culture in their areas.
The voluntary sector is another big player in Scotland's cultural life. Throughout Scotland, voluntary groups support the arts at all levels, from amateur arts clubs to professional theatre production companies.
- The Presiding Officer:
You have one minute left.
- Karen Whitefield:
However, the bill was vague about the relationship between creative Scotland and the voluntary sector. We seek clarification on the matter.
The committee listened to the concerns that Scottish universities and further education establishments expressed. Universities Scotland thought that there was a lack of recognition of the key role that universities play in supporting arts and culture. In giving evidence for Universities Scotland, David Caldwell said:
"If we are to make the bill work, we need to develop a better understanding of the contributions that various institutions—including, but not only, the universities—can make to the work of creative Scotland"—[Official Report, Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee, 7 May 2008; c 977.]
The committee welcomes the broad thrust of the Creative Scotland Bill. We have endorsed the principle and benefit of establishing a single national cultural body. However, we have serious concerns about the ability of the bill, as it is currently drafted, to deliver the aspirations that I am sure all members share.
Scotland has a proud heritage. In people such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh, we have an example of how arts can affect our culture and how our culture affects our arts. Scotland has produced artists of the highest quality. I am thinking of painters such as Joan Eardley and Steven Campbell; actors such as Gordon Jackson and Deborah Kerr; and musicians such as Evelyn Glennie and Craig Armstrong.
I am sure that we all want Scotland to continue to be a place that nurtures great artists and in which the arts continue to live and breathe in our communities. The bill provides an important opportunity to achieve that goal. For that reason, we must get it right.
- The Presiding Officer:
We are tight for time in the debate. I ask members to stick to their time if at all possible.
- Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab):
This is a rather unusual stage 1 debate, given that most of the objections to and concerns about the bill relate to what is missing from it and not what it contains. It is for that reason that the Labour Party supports the general principles of the bill, but with serious reservations and concerns.
I will not go over all the excellent proposals in the draft culture (Scotland) bill that was binned on 7 November, but will stick instead to the lack of clarity and detail about creative Scotland. Like the Finance Committee, I question the financial provisions that fail to match the extended remit of this new national body. Many of the anxieties around creative Scotland are underpinned by that. [Interruption.]
- The Presiding Officer:
- Malcolm Chisholm:
Of course, I welcome the minister's announcement on the extra money. She has recognised that her previously held view was not sustainable. As the financial memorandum makes it clear, the combined budgets of the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen were set to decline in cash terms by £3 million over the next three years. We welcome the extra £5 million, although, in real terms, the budget probably remains a stand-still budget. In addition, we have the problem that the estimated £1 million for transitional costs may not be enough and, on top of that, the issue of efficiency savings.
It is therefore no wonder either that people in the arts community are worried or that the central question on the bill has been, "How on earth can a body with such an extended remit possibly flourish on a budget that is not increasing in real terms?" Those concerns are compounded by fears about local authority budgets. Local authorities are now guided by targets and indicators, but without a single target or indicator that relates to the arts.
Those anxieties about funding underlie the many demands for a definition of culture and, particularly, of the arts. For example, the Scottish Storytelling Centre has called for a definition of the arts that includes literature. It did so partly because it fears that support for literature will disappear in a difficult funding situation. When Scottish Language Dictionaries suggested a definition that includes language, it did so partly because support for the Scots language has already been cut significantly in a tight financial situation that is about to get tighter.
The debate on definitions needs to continue on its own terms throughout the passage of the bill. We need to recognise that inclusive definitions, such as those that the Scottish Storytelling Centre and Scottish Language Dictionaries suggested, rule nothing out but guarantee that central strands of the arts would be properly supported by creative Scotland.
It is perhaps unfortunate that no proper consultation was undertaken on the bill. At the very least, attention could have been paid to the conclusions of the consultation process on the draft culture (Scotland) bill. As the report on that consultation said, with reference to creative Scotland:
"The majority of respondents felt whilst agreeing to the new body, that its role and responsibilities should be more clearly defined in the Bill, and that Creative Scotland would have to work closely with cultural agencies, local authorities and other cultural partners."
One has to wonder whether anyone in the Scottish Government read that.
The issue of role, responsibilities and relationships becomes particularly problematic when we come to the creative industries. Given that that is the central new feature in the remit for creative Scotland, one might think that it is worthy of some clarity and thought. As members know, we get a reference at the end of section 2 of the bill to
"supporting activities which involve the application of creative skills to the development of products and processes."
As Scottish Enterprise tactfully put it, that is "open to interpretation".
Legislation should not be open to interpretation. There must be clarification, either today or at a subsequent stage. Progress so far has not been encouraging, and simply talking about a forum does not answer the question. From listening to the minister's explanation today, I am tempted to paraphrase Byron talking about Coleridge
Explaining creative Scotland to the nation
I wish she would explain her explanation.
Progress has not been encouraging, because of a combination of confusion and unwillingness to answer questions. When Rob Gibson asked the minister in committee which elements of support for the creative industries creative Scotland should deal with and what proportion of its budget would be used for that, he was told that that was a matter for creative Scotland to discuss. When Mary Mulligan asked whether creative Scotland would be the lead strategic organisation that deals with the creative industries, as indicated by the transition team, the policy memorandum and the recent working group report, the minister said that we should get away from the view that somebody must take the lead. When asked whether there would be a transfer of budgets from Scottish Enterprise to creative Scotland—something that is not on the agenda, according to Scottish Enterprise—the minister told us that that is still being discussed. We note what the minister said on that today, but we must know before the end of the debate how much money she is talking about and the purpose for which the money is to be used.
In the midst of all that confusion, the minister's usual formulation is that creative Scotland will be the lead advocate for the creative industries, although she did not use that phrase today. It is far from clear what that means in practice, quite apart from the fact that the key word in the bill about the creative industries is "supporting". Clarification of what "supporting" means is central to progress and, if support is not what is intended, that word should be deleted from the bill. Another requirement is clarification of the relationship between creative Scotland and the other creative industry players, namely Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the local authorities. Clarification on the transferred money, the issue of who will lead and the relationship between the players should be given in the winding-up speech, please.
The relationship with local authorities extends well beyond the creative industries, although their new business gateway function is important. Local authorities also have a crucial role in supporting arts activity in communities and schools. It is strange that the bill is silent on that central partnership. The policy memorandum talks of creative Scotland working
"in partnership with a wide variety of interested organisations."
Perhaps that should be put in the bill as a general statement, followed by the specific example of local authorities.
Specific duties might be added, such as a duty to assist local authorities in the development of local cultural plans or to co-operate with education authorities to ensure that cultural components are incorporated in the curriculum. Local authorities are central to the delivery of arts and culture, as recognised by the sections on local authorities in the draft culture (Scotland) bill. I know that the minister did not like those sections, which were underpinned by the concept of entitlements, but that does not mean that a different formulation should not be considered. I have raised concerns about local authority funding and the absence of a target or indicator for the arts. In that situation, the minister must explain what leverage, if any, she has over local authorities that simply decide that the arts and culture are not for them. Perhaps creative Scotland should have a role in that. We certainly need clarity on the issue, as on so many other issues. Another such issue is further and higher education but, as the clock is ticking, I shall leave that and simply recommend the committee's recommendation in that regard.
I want to talk in more detail about the key partnership with the voluntary sector. Like the minister, I was fortunate to be a speaker at the Voluntary Arts Scotland conference a couple of days ago. Many points were raised about creative Scotland, its funding and its relationship to bodies such as Voluntary Arts Scotland. The committee report refers to the important need for creative Scotland to recognise Voluntary Arts Scotland's role in developing and disseminating good practice advice to the voluntary cultural sector. The report also mentions the need to ensure that the new body does not get involved in more duplication. Voluntary Arts Scotland's suggestion that it should deliver that remit on creative Scotland's behalf should be considered seriously.
On the arm's-length principle in general, like the committee, I am satisfied with the balance that is struck in the bill. I merely add that that balance was precisely what the previous Administration intended in its draft culture (Scotland) bill, so the minister was hardly justified in trumpeting a great change of direction in that regard in her statement to Parliament on 7 November last year. However, although the arm's-length principle is correct for the artistic judgments of creative Scotland, it is emphatically inappropriate for the proposed legislation. We do not know whether legislation is necessary, although I will not go into the minister's contradictory statements in the committee about that.
As Donald Smith put it in giving evidence to the committee:
"The relationship between democracy and culture is extremely strong in Scotland, so Parliament should do a job and give the new body a remit."—[Official Report, Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee, 7 May 2008; c 957.]
In a sense, that is what the whole debate will be about—today and at the next two stages of the bill. We must establish clarity in the remit of creative Scotland, and we must not be led astray by the arm's-length belief that it is nothing to do with us. That seemed to be what the minister was suggesting on various occasions at the committee, when she almost made a virtue out of not knowing the answer.
Finally, negative capability—being in a state of uncertainty and doubt—is very beneficial for the creative process, but it is highly damaging in a piece of parliamentary legislation. We shall support the general principles of the bill today, but with the proviso that more clarity and less uncertainty will be required next time round.
- Ted Brocklebank (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con):
Future generations will look back on the early years of the 21st century as a golden time in Scotland's creative and cultural history. In virtually every aspect of the arts, there is quality and depth. What is more, our writers, actors, musicians, directors and—yes—pop stars are winning acclaim around the globe. Our distinguished Scottish orchestras and opera and ballet companies have all won worldwide reputations. The planet's most successful author, J K Rowling, honed her writing skills in an Edinburgh tea room; and the world's most popular artist, in terms of prints sold, is a former miner from Methil in Fife—Jack Vettriano. As the minister has acknowledged, it is a welcome fact that Edinburgh hosts the world's premier arts festival.
Of course, self-praise is no great honour, and I cringe at the "Wha's like us?" hysteria so often whipped up by sections of the media whenever Scotland achieves some minor sporting success. But having said that—and with the lingering regret that our greatest Gaelic poet, Sorley MacLean, missed out on the Nobel prize for literature that he richly deserved—I rejoice that the nation is riding so high in the world's cultural esteem.
Could we do better? Of course we could, which is why we welcome the Creative Scotland Bill that we are considering today. It is not the direct role of Government to shape the arts and culture of a nation, but it is certainly the role of Government to create the climate in which the arts can flourish. To that extent, the Conservatives welcome the aspirations of the bill, although we remain concerned that, in a number of important respects, it lacks clarity and still requires considerable revision.
Conservatives have always striven to uphold a healthy creative sector in Scotland, and we want to see a governing body that is fit for purpose in a rapidly changing artistic world. In my television days, we talked about broadcasting, safe in the assumption that everybody knew what we meant. Nowadays, of course, with the rapid development of the games industry and a plethora of means of delivery, we have to talk about audiovisual content on whatever platform is appropriate. In that changing arts world, it makes sense to devise an overall creative body, combining the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen, with the necessary additional powers for the development and support of the creative industries across the spectrum.
We agreed with the present Government's decision to drop its predecessor's plans to give ministers powers of direction over galleries and museums and to enlist local authorities to deliver so-called cultural entitlements. Ministers and councillors should be kept as far away from influencing artistic content as possible.
However, we firmly support the decision to fund our five great performing companies directly from the Government, provided that they continue to meet agreed criteria for national status. We welcome the minister's repeated assurances that it is not the intention of her Government to become involved in artistic decision making. However, the phraseology in the bill still appears to leave some doubt, as Equity and others have pointed out. The actual wording will bear closer scrutiny at future stages.
Equally, like others, we were concerned about the bill's financial memorandum. According to the report of the Finance Committee, the financial memorandum was
"the weakest that has been produced in the current parliamentary session."
The committee was referring to the funding during the transitional period until the new amalgamated body has been set up, but fears have also been expressed that the new creative Scotland is being asked to do more work with a diminishing budget.
We welcome the transfer of Scottish Enterprise's £50 million cultural budget to creative Scotland, and we look forward to more details of additional funding. However, our main concern until this afternoon was the apparent confusion over whether creative Scotland or Scottish Enterprise is to be the lead agency for arts funding. As we have heard, the minister seemed only to make matters worse at the committee when she claimed that creative Scotland would have the leading advocacy role. I hope that, following today's announcement, she can confirm that creative Scotland will indeed take the lead. Will she confirm that creative Scotland will have the final say on how much money will go to each project or artistic organisation, and that it will not have powers only of recommendation?
Last week, the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee heard from Blair Jenkins of the Scottish Broadcasting Commission. He gave evidence on public and private sector production funding for the television industry, a model that is dear to my heart and which works successfully in Ireland, Canada and elsewhere. It would be of particular interest to Scotland's beleaguered independent television sector. Until today, we had no clear indication from the minister on where producers of TV shows or other arts projects should go to make their pitch. Are we now to assume that cultural entrepreneurs will make their first pitch to creative Scotland and that the new body will be able to deliver on any promises given?
The universities and local authorities have expressed confusion about their role in promoting the arts under the bill. The minister was right to pay tribute to the role of local authorities. It is disappointing that at stage 1 they appear still to be unclear about how they will fit into Scotland's new arts structure.
We will support the aspirations of the bill, but we will watch with interest how our various concerns are dealt with and will consider the extent to which the minister makes the roles of Scottish Enterprise and creative Scotland absolutely clear—I hope that she will do that before the end of the debate—before we give any commitments beyond stage 1.
- Jeremy Purvis (Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale) (LD):
I refer members to my entry in the register of members' interests, which shows that I am a member of a small theatre company board.
With culture and creativity, we capture imagination; give individuals confidence; entertain and empower people; and encourage equality and entrepreneurialism. All those aspects have shaped modern society in Scotland. We have a proud record in this area and we will have a fantastic future.
However, this debate is not about the general principles of culture; it is about whether the bill that the Government has introduced will be a mechanism for developing creativity, the arts and culture in Scotland. The conclusion in paragraph 141 of the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee's stage 1 report on the bill was:
"The Committee is concerned that the measures included in the bill do not match the rhetoric from the Scottish Government."
The Minister for Europe, External Affairs and Culture said to the committee on 14 May:
"we are establishing a new body with new functions, extensive powers and new approaches."
She went on to say that the bill was introduced to
"put a stop to the uncertainty and speculation and place the creative sector on a firm footing."
Therefore, it is with a degree of unhappiness that I say that, even by the stage of the stage 1 debate, there is still uncertainty and speculation and the financing of the sector is not on a firm footing. With creative understatement, the minister then said:
"I appreciate that that approach is unusual and has caused some frustrations for the committee and colleagues in the Finance Committee."—[Official Report, Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee, 14 May 2008; c 1010-11.]
When the minister made her statement to Parliament last year, she pointed to the many aspects of the previous culture bill that she thought could be delivered without legislation. She said that a bill would be unnecessary and that she would introduce a bill only in the areas in which legislation was necessary. The committee was a bit surprised that legislation was not required to establish creative Scotland, but the Government said that the bill was introduced to allow detailed parliamentary scrutiny to take place. I see that the Minister for Parliamentary Business is in the chamber. He might think that a dangerous precedent has been set: the Government will have to introduce a bill on every occasion to allow debate about and scrutiny of Government policies.
There is a lack of clarity about creative Scotland's remit, responsibilities and functions. Creative Scotland's transition board stated categorically that it is intended to be the lead development agency for the creative industries. The "Public Support for Creative Industries Report", which the Government has now accepted, states in paragraph 1.3 in its appendix that creative Scotland
"will be the lead agency for the arts and creative enterprises in Scotland".
However, the minister said on 14 May:
"It is not proposed that creative Scotland will take on the role or activities of the business gateway or Scottish Enterprise. That would just muddy the landscape",
although, within minutes of that, the Government had said:
"we also propose that creative Scotland will build on and evolve existing good practice—in the cultural enterprise office, for example—in providing complementary tailored services for creative entrepreneurs in the first stages of business development."—[Official Report, Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee, 14 May 2008; c 1029 and 1012.]
The minister stated clearly today that that will include provision to provide loans for business enterprises, although we still do not know how that will be delivered, or, indeed, what priority the new organisation will give to business support—as opposed to acting as a grant-making organisation for arts bodies—as there must be some form of financial assistance and there will be a cost in creative Scotland providing such services.
Unfortunately, there has been wholesale confusion over the funds and the budget that will be available to the organisation. Indeed, we have had more news in that regard today. At stage 1, when the committee was scrutinising the proposals, the Government had ample opportunity to come forward with further information about the budget, yet the Government brings forward new information during the stage 1 debate in the chamber.
Scottish Enterprise was perfectly clear that no transfer of funds was to occur. On 21 May, the chief executive of Scottish Enterprise told the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee that "no transfer" has been made or is planned to be made to creative Scotland for the creative industries. That is in the Official Report of this Parliament. The business plan for the enterprise networks had been signed off by ministers.
As of today, we know that the business plan that was presented to Parliament was flawed. The question of where the funds are coming from is serious.
The SNP manifesto promised to transfer the budgets for the creative industries in Scotland from Scottish Enterprise to creative Scotland. However, when Ken Macintosh asked the minister whether that was the case, the minister said:
"It will serve no one any good to start talking about manifestos at this point."—[Official Report, Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee, 14 May 2008; c 1032.]
The Scottish Parliament information centre tells us that the combined budget for the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen will fall, in real terms, from £50 million this year to £45.5 million over the spending review period. Therefore, the increase in budget that we have heard about—and we are not sure whether it is to be annualised over the spending review period—will only bring it back to roughly the level that it is at just now. Indeed, if we subtract the set-up costs for creative Scotland, the budget for arts development and creativity will be in a negative situation. Further, we will also have created confusion around the roles and remits of the organisations that are going to get support.
We have a shared ambition in this Parliament for our creative industries, but we think that this bill is deficient. The Finance Committee issued a damning report on it. The Government must do much more work to ensure that the measures in the bill match its rhetoric. Unfortunately, we and the creative sector in Scotland are still waiting for that to be done.
- Ian McKee (Lothians) (SNP):
The late and unlamented Hermann Göring gets the credit for the remark,
"Whenever I hear the word, ‘culture', I reach for my revolver."
Although it is certain that he was not the originator of the phrase—I leave it to those in the chamber who are better versed in the history of fascist dictatorships than I am to tell us who came up with it—there is no doubt that it has a certain resonance among some elements of our society, as is borne witness by the letters that we all receive complaining about subsidies being given to operas or classical music while folk are living in inadequate housing.
As Karen Whitefield asked, what is culture, and does it deserve support? There has been criticism that the Creative Scotland Bill, the principles of which are supported by the majority of the bodies and people who responded to the earlier consultation process, contains no definition of culture—most other bills concerning other subjects are required to define their terms. However, as Richard Holloway, the chair of the joint board of the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen, said to the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee on 30 April this year, if we define the word "culture" too precisely, "we limit the future".
My case is that culture is human creativity. It distinguishes us from animals and has no distinct bounds. It is akin to the soul of a community, whether that community is a family, a town or a nation. Culture is not only opera, music, the visual arts or film; as Ted Brocklebank says, it is all of those things and much more. The job of Government is not to define, mould or pick winners; it is to create the circumstances in which culture can flourish.
The bill rightly maintains the arm's-length relationship between Government and the body that awards grants or provides advice.
- Robin Harper (Lothians) (Green):
The Scottish Book Trust asks how we can legislate for something that we do not care to define. It points out that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has a definition of culture that is recognised around the world. Why can the Government not accept that definition? If it wants to take Richard Holloway's concerns, for which I have absolute respect—
- The Deputy Presiding Officer (Alasdair Morgan):
Your intervention is a bit long, Mr Harper.
- Robin Harper:
This is the point. Would not the Government be able to get round the problem by simply saying at the end of any definition of culture that culture includes that but is not limited to it?
- Ian McKee:
I accept Robin Harper's point, but I cannot entirely agree with it. I agree with Richard Holloway, and with other members in the chamber, that the moment that one starts to define culture, one is on very restrictive ground, which can cause problems in the future.
It is not the function of politicians to interfere with the output of creative Scotland or to direct policy priorities, as that would, in the words of the Scottish Artists Union,
"render any notion of artistic freedom … meaningless".
Those of us who have recently received anguished letters from those who were unfortunate enough to be denied support from the Scottish Arts Council this year might be tempted to rebel against that concept but, although we all have views on the merits of different cases and it must take the wisdom of Solomon to judge competing claims, it is surely right that such decisions are made by a body that has been established for that purpose, rather than by politicians, who are by definition more likely to be swayed by political rather than artistic considerations. Distributing grants to worthy projects is only one part of creative Scotland's envisaged function, and creative Scotland, like any other human institution, can get it wrong and make the wrong decision.
Culture is like a plant: the more fertile the soil, the quicker it will grow and the healthier it will be. I welcome the function by which the body will support and develop talent wherever it is. The current review into the ways in which that can best be effected is deeply welcome. I am only disappointed that this country's lack of independence—or even fiscal autonomy—means that we cannot use the powers that a country such as Ireland has to introduce a tax exemption scheme for young artists at the outset of their careers. Let us hope that time will remedy that disadvantage.
- Malcolm Chisholm:
The manifesto of Ian McKee's party dealt with that problem by promising grants to artists in lieu of tax relief. Will that still happen, or is it another broken promise?
- Ian McKee:
I am disappointed that Malcolm Chisholm, whom I normally regard as being extremely wise and full of foresight, is quibbling about the ways in which the Scottish National Party is trying to get round the objections that his own unionist Government in Westminster has made.
My other concern is that in linking Scottish Screen with the Scottish Arts Council we do not minimise the importance of the film and screen industries. I look forward to receiving reassurance from the minister on that point. I have said that culture needs fertile ground on which to thrive. The ground can be made more fertile by stratagems such as tax breaks, studio subsidies, the provision of facilities and suchlike. However, the main driver for cultural diversity and development lies in the confidence, sense of wellbeing and identity of the people themselves—and that might have little to do with money.
Countries all over Europe that have achieved independence and control over their own affairs and destiny have experienced a cultural renaissance. For years, we in Scotland have lived in the shadow of dependence and with the feeling that our future is determined for us by others. Now is the time to move forward into a new generation.
- Mr Frank McAveety (Glasgow Shettleston) (Lab):
I have been a reluctant participant in debates about culture since an interesting but occasionally turbulent period as the then Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport in Scotland. In today's discussion, we need to amplify exactly where we were in the previous Executive and to express our disappointment at the failure of ambition that is contained in today's contribution and in the opportunities for culture in the future, which the Parliament must address.
I remind Ian McKee that even in periods when there were forms of government that were not independent in Scotland, we had substantial periods of what would be called cultural renaissance. During the period leading up to the commitment to a devolved Parliament, many in the artistic community were key contributors to the debate about whether it was in Scotland's interest to have a devolved Government.
I think that Jennie Lee put it appropriately years ago when she was Minister for the Arts under Harold Wilson.
- Ian McKee:
Will the member take an intervention?
- Mr McAveety:
If the member is going to quote Jennie Lee to me, I will be delighted to hear it.
- Ian McKee:
I refer to the member's point about the cultural renaissance before devolution. Is it not the case that people expected a lot more of devolution than actually arrived? They expected some form of home rule and independence.
- Mr McAveety:
That is probably true, but the individuals in the cultural sector who were involved in the debate around the constitutional convention were taking part in it. Funnily enough, the SNP was not. I hate to remind members of that, but it is a matter of historical fact.
Jennie Lee said that what is needed is more money and a period of silence. I would probably agree with that, even though it is not a view that would normally be associated with me.
It is wrong to claim that there was a commitment to having powers of direction in the former Executive's bill. That claim was made in some of the press releases, but it is not the reality of the legislation.
On the argument about the new mythology whereby people say, "We do not want politicians to be involved in debates around arts and culture," I do not know where those people have been. The reality of life is that politicians and representatives have as much right as anyone else to be involved in debates about cultural direction and the future of Scotland.
I know that Ted Brocklebank is a representative of what was historically termed the petite bourgeoisie. Without the petite bourgeoisie, members of which were in municipal government, much of the major cultural infrastructure of late Victorian Glasgow would not have been built. There was a political commitment to create things such as the Kelvingrove gallery and a number of other institutions. However, there was a failure to engage citizens more widely in the debate. Many of the principles that were contained in our commitment to cultural entitlements have been lost in the Creative Scotland Bill. We wanted to find ways in which to engage with many more citizens throughout Scotland. That aspiration is hard to define but it is an important aspiration to aim for.
I got some criticism when I was a minister. I remember reading my Sunday papers with great joy once when Scotland on Sunday described me as a "philistine". I looked that word up in the dictionary and I could not see it anywhere under F. The reality is that terms are used to define people and put them in a box. What we are trying to do through the bill, I hope, is to create a much better fabric that enables the artist to flourish more effectively in Scotland.
There are profound issues in the bill and my colleagues will touch on those. I welcome some of the ways in which the minister has tried to address them so far and I hope that she will continue to do so.
When Jack McConnell said what he said in his St Andrew's day speech in 2003, the commitment was to a belief that, wherever someone is in Scotland, they have the opportunity to make a contribution. In present-day Scotland, we have a huge disparity of spending by local government, and opportunities depend on the accident of where someone lives or the geography of their consumption of culture. I hope that the outcome agreements will address that. Some local authorities spend 30 to 40 times more than others. That is a matter for the Scottish Government and all parliamentarians to address through constructive engagement and dialogue. I do not care how we address it as long as we do so. It is about leadership and about equity and fairness in access to culture.
We build on the strengths of local government and the voluntary sector. Last night, I had a remarkable experience at the young enterprise awards. I met some primary school students who are in their own rock band. They gave a fantastic performance. Through cultural engagement, those youngsters are more rounded citizens and are more likely to make a positive contribution. I say to the minister that that should be our ambition as parliamentarians. I regret that such ambition is not present in the bill, but there is still time to remedy that.
- Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (SNP):
It is important for us to know where we have come from to reach this point. I sat through the committee debates, listened to the arguments put and questions asked, and felt the strongly negative sense from some that somehow it is impossible to pin down the issues and that the SNP Government is failing. I suppose that that attitude could be summed up by the comment:
"The overwhelming judgement is of a weak document that hasn't been put together with any enthusiasm or determination. It just looks as if it was born to fail."
However, that was James Boyle talking about the Labour-Lib Dem draft culture (Scotland) bill, from which we have escaped—thank goodness.
When Linda Fabiani introduced the Creative Scotland Bill, she said:
"The establishment of Creative Scotland will cultivate and support the best of Scottish arts and culture and maximise the potential of Scotland's creative sector … Creative Scotland will have a vital role in promoting artistic excellence. It will help our artists, practitioners and creative businesses to rise to new levels of aspiration, ambition and achievement".
When I look at the bill before us, I see enabling legislation that can take us to new heights. I see not only the potential for advocacy and creative Scotland being the lead body but hard evidence that the agencies that will work with it will be happy to do so and are already working in partnership.
Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise said clearly that they were happy with the situation, and I am delighted that the minister has accepted all of the statements from the creative industries working group report and will create the creative industries forum, which will include all such agencies and answer the question about who takes which decisions. The route map that the forum will draw up will show how each agency works.
I have already seen local examples of people applying through the gateway. If people in my part of Scotland approached HIE, it would know where they should go. I am sure that, if we were fair, we would agree that that would happen in Scottish Enterprise areas too. That is why we should have confidence that the right framework has been put in place in the bill. The bill is not inadequate but will point the way clearly.
The comment that COSLA should be involved is relevant, although its involvement must be carefully managed. It is all very well saying that COSLA should have a place on the creative Scotland board, as COSLA first argued, but there would be a conflict of interests. Other committee members recognised that too. However, a special place for COSLA in the creative industries forum is important because it also has a part to play in the route map.
Considering how the single outcome agreements are being developed, I hope that the Government will make it clear how an audit trail can be built up to show how local authorities work. If some authorities have been deficient in providing for culture, we should know who was in charge and what they were doing for the past eight years. Perhaps we can all work together now and ensure that we can do something to even up the efforts across the country.
It was interesting to see what happened on the question of the relevance of voluntary arts, as well as the professional sector, during our stage 1 discussion of the bill. The Scottish Arts Council, having started a flexible funding exercise in 2006, reached some conclusions about whether certain bodies should receive funding. It invited applicants to demonstrate how their work strove to be new and innovative. The danger is that creative Scotland will prefer innovation over the work that the voluntary sector does all the time to maintain people's access to the arts, which is not necessarily innovative but is continuous.
There must be some means by which creative Scotland can balance up the definition that it uses to ensure that it does not just favour innovation but allows for the work done by bedrock organisations such as Voluntary Arts Scotland and the Scots Language Resource Centre Association Ltd. Indeed, Scottish Language Dictionaries, which was mentioned by Malcolm Chisholm, was directly funded.
A debate is taking place about how creative Scotland will work. It will work in partnership and I believe that it will identify other sources of funding, as the minister said. Some language elements that have been funded through the Arts Council might not be funded through creative Scotland. We must ask whether creative Scotland will be able to measure the traditional arts in a fashion that is acceptable to us, but that is a debate for another day.
I welcome the bill. Some issues might need to be ironed out, but the bill is not a failure—it is the route to success for our arts in Scotland.
- Patricia Ferguson (Glasgow Maryhill) (Lab):
On St Andrew's day in 2003, the then First Minister, Jack McConnell, made a much-lauded speech in which he set out the approach to culture that his coalition Government would take. He recognised the partnership that had to exist if culture was to flourish in our country and he acknowledged that culture should be placed firmly at the heart of government—that it should influence decisions and add value to all portfolios. He also made a plea to our country:
"Let's agree first the importance and the centrality of cultural activity to all aspects of our lives, why it's important and how it can be used to revitalise us individually and as a national community.
Then let's see what structures are needed to make that happen".
That was the approach that the previous Administration took. We can contrast that with the SNP Government's actions to strip from the bill everything about culture and aspiration and to leave only the bare bones of the cultural support mechanism for us to debate.
I say to Rob Gibson that James Boyle is a remarkable man for whom I have much respect and who is entitled to his view, as are we all. However, if James criticised the previous Administration's bill, what must he think about the current bill, which adds nothing to the debate? All it does is remove issues.
- Rob Gibson:
I believe that James Boyle was a member of the working group that created the new bill, so I presume that he was party to seeing it as being a better approach than the previous one.
- Patricia Ferguson:
I am afraid that I must repeat that the bill contains nothing new. All we have is a bill that has been denuded in the past year.
Our ambition was and is to build on the United Nations definition of culture and to ensure that all citizens, particularly our young people, have the opportunity and the entitlement to access, enjoy, learn from and contribute to their culture, and to do so in a way that local communities think is right. However, the opportunity to which our nation could aspire just 15 months ago has been taken from it by a Government that has also reduced the money that is available to be spent on supporting and encouraging the arts, and which has instructed the Scottish Arts Council soon to cease its support for cultural co-ordinators. I say to Mr Gibson that cultural co-ordinators were part of a range of measures to help to balance local authority provision. The SNP Government is the first since devolution to accept a cut in funding for culture—so much for aspiration for our country.
How will young people access the arts and culture? Will we leave it to chance? What of those who have talent but who never have the opportunity to put their talents to the test? It was hoped that what was described as an escalator approach would be taken, which would give young people the opportunity before, during and after school to develop their talents. However, the steps that underpinned that approach are gradually being removed. First, cultural co-ordinators were affected. Now, problems appear to have been identified in some areas—I accept that the evidence is anecdotal—with funding of the youth music initiative, because of the new way in which local government funding operates. If we lose those two valuable parts of the support for our young people to access culture, we will lose a great deal. Any Government would be ashamed of that.
As I have said, the Government has produced no new ideas in the past year. It has done nothing to show us that it cares about culture or to demonstrate a commitment to helping the arts to flourish. Many of the SNP's manifesto commitments have even been dropped along the way.
I sincerely hope that the minister will, in closing, say that she will amend the bill at stage 2, that she will propose clear parameters within which creative Scotland will work, and that she will detail the relationships that creative Scotland should build with local authorities, universities, performing companies, the national collections and, of course, the voluntary sector. I hope that she will describe the steps that she is taking to ensure the continuation of the youth music initiative under the new agreement with local government, and that she will clarify once and for all creative Scotland's role in relation to the creative industries. I had hoped that the minister would do that in her speech, but I say with regret that she did not. I understand what she said about the creative industries, but will she say exactly what the creative industries forum's responsibilities will be? Who exactly will take that work forward? What does the word "advocacy" mean in that context?
On 10 June, Highlands and Islands Enterprise wrote to me at the request of the minister. Its letter stated:
"with HIE's Operating Plan now approved, we are currently in the process of allocating our sectoral budgets. For financial year 2008/09 we expect the budget allocated to our Creative Industries team to be similar to last year, c £600,000. Creative businesses will obviously still be eligible to apply for business support … I would add that these figures relate to support for business, and do not include the support we provide for ‘non-commercial' arts".
If HIE thinks that it will receive the same budget this year, where will the funding changes be?
As others have said, members who vote in favour of the bill will do so with real disappointment that there has been a missed opportunity, and with frustration, which we share with the cultural sector and the people of Scotland. I hope that the minister will address at stage 2 all the issues that I have raised and will not leave us in what seems to be the pickle of stage 1.
- Jamie McGrigor (Highlands and Islands) (Con):
I welcome the opportunity to speak in this stage 1 debate, which marks an important milestone for Scotland's cultural sector. We agree with the bill's main aims and welcome the extra £5 million, but I want to raise several concerns about our publishing industry that have been raised with me.
I am sure that the minister agrees that publishing is synonymous with Edinburgh. The importance of publishing to Edinburgh—its importance goes back to the time of the Nelson reading rooms and further—is beyond question. Edinburgh is Europe's first city of literature, and the Edinburgh book festival is becoming huge—750 authors will be involved in it this year. Therefore, I ask the minister why our publishing industry in Edinburgh is riven by dissent and dissatisfaction. Why are large numbers of Scotland's best known and most important publishers, including Edinburgh University Press, resigning from Publishing Scotland? Surely that speaks volumes about the publishing industry's opinion of that body's effectiveness.
Publishing Scotland is our publishers' representative and development body. It receives a significant part of its funding from the SAC—soon to be creative Scotland—but serious concerns have been expressed to me about its effectiveness, performance, whether the Scottish taxpayer gets value for money from it and whether the best books are seeing the light of day. Furthermore, its website, booksfromscotland.com, has underperformed for the past two years to the extent that its income is only £15,000 a year, which is a fifth of its target income. A previous direct sales scheme that Publishing Scotland ran was also a failure, to the tune of £70,000. Publishing is a business that either makes or loses money, but the loss of sectors must be reined in. I ask the minister whether, to safeguard the interests of the taxpayer, a proper analysis and investigation should be carried out if grants have been given to projects that have failed.
A major publisher has summed up its concerns about the publishing industry in one paragraph. The publisher stated:
"Assuming the state wishes to fund writing and publishing in Scotland, is this best served by a position where 2/3 of the grant support given to the publishing sector is given to a trade association, namely Publishing Scotland, representing a minority of Scottish publishing output, and the remaining 1/3 is mediated on a book by book basis by a small committee late in the publishing process with a series of artificial restrictions on what can be given to whom? Equally is Scottish writing best served by a system whereby the far larger funds available to writers are divvied up by a similar small grouping without any regard for either the publishability of those writers or indeed even as to whether they will write anything at all!"
The Scottish publisher's lot is not a happy one at the moment.
However, I am happy to read that the minister said, in committee:
"We need the legislation to allow parliamentary scrutiny and to send out the message that what we are doing here is extremely important, in that we are transforming the development of arts and culture in Scotland."—[Official Report, Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee, 14 May 2008; c 1028.]
On the bright side, it seems that the change from the SAC to creative Scotland presents a good opportunity for the minister to get together with the publishing industry and the key players to produce a better framework for the support of publishing than currently exists. They must look at the publishing conveyor belt. At present, the SAC publishing grant fund is added to the process near the end of the operation, or is sometimes not added at all, which is the crucial point. A publisher decides to publish; the book goes to the manuscript level, which the SAC insists on; it then goes to the SAC for support, at which point it may well be turned down even after so much has already been spent on it. That process needs to be changed, and fast.
I am glad that the policy memorandum to the bill states that creative Scotland will
"support activities which involve the application of creative skills".
The main difference between the SAC and the new creative Scotland appears to be the addition of a role in the development and support of the creative industries. Surely it should be mainly publishers who influence what is published, not the high heid yins in the SAC or creative Scotland, however good their credentials may be.
This debate is about the best way in which to support the creative industries in Scotland. Publishing is a key creative industry, and the minister has the perfect opportunity to correct the faults of the past and to create a golden future for our talented literary sector.
- Jamie Stone (Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross) (LD):
I draw the chamber's attention to my entry in the register of members' interests: I, too, am on the board of a small theatre company.
It is a great pleasure to take part in the debate, especially as some nine years ago the minister and I—as newly elected members to the first Scottish Parliament, in 1999—took part in a pastiche of "Take the High Road". We have never quite forgotten that, and there is a poetic symmetry in the fact that we are debating the arts together today.
Dr McKee mentioned Göring's famous quote about culture. In my case, the word culture was, until quite advanced years, synonymous with the production of yogurt and cheese. I have learned a lot since then.
I would like to take the high road north to my constituency and echo some of the comments that have been made by Frank McAveety and Rob Gibson. What interests me at stage 1—and what will interest me as the bill proceeds through Parliament—is the acid test of how creative Scotland will deliver in an area such as my constituency. Also, once creative Scotland is in place, I will be interested to see how the Scottish Government intends to audit the working of the organisation.
I thank the minister for name-checking the Subordinate Legislation Committee, which does not happen with great frequency. I, too, pay tribute where it is due. There has been a reassurance from the Scottish Government about the arm's-length nature of the way in which ministers will operate. I welcome that both as an individual member and as the convener of the Subordinate Legislation Committee.
In my constituency, there is a small arts centre near Wick called the Lyth arts centre. In April, it received the unwelcome news from the SAC that its bid for funding of £25,000 a year for 2009-10 and 2010-11 had been rejected, as SAC's funding was to be discontinued. That was bad news. I have not written to the minister asking her to intervene, in the spirit that that is not how we should go about things: we cannot ask ministers to intervene on every issue. Nevertheless, I draw members' attention to something that I feel we are in danger of losing. The hope is that creative Scotland may do things slightly differently. In terms of music—classical, folk and jazz—theatre, exhibition space and film, the Lyth arts centre provides a service—albeit on a small scale—that is very much valued by people in my constituency. The centre also helps enormously in other ways, in the broadest sense of the arts and culture, both on an international scale and a local scale.
Northlands Creative Glass, which is based in Lybster, is highly successful in producing artistic and beautiful pieces of glass work. It has incoming master glass blowers and artists who have based their work in the Lyth arts centre, so the centre is an exhibition space for the best of artists from outwith the area. At the more local level, it also provided an exhibition space for my constituent Catherine MacLeod of Thrumster—who makes the most beautiful furniture—at the start of her career to show what she could do. Therefore, the centre has played an extraordinarily important role in supporting artists from outwith the area and providing the seedcorn for our own artists.
I have written to the minister bringing the matter to her attention, not asking her to intervene. I ask her to consider what the SAC's spend in Caithness and Sutherland is. It is a pretty dusty answer, because it has not been a lot for a long time, and two lots of £25,000 is—
- The Deputy Presiding Officer:
The member should relate that to the general principles of the Creative Scotland Bill.
- Jamie Stone:
I do, Presiding Officer, because, as I said in my opening remarks, as the bill goes through stages 2 and 3 and when it becomes an act, I wish to see an element of fairness to ensure that it delivers local access to the arts no matter where one lives—as Frank McAveety said—not access to the arts 100 miles and more away in Inverness. That is the nature of the problem. However, I accept your steering me back to where I should be.
I draw the minister's attention to the fact that Highland Council has published its own consultant's report into arts delivery. That is pertinent.
The Subordinate Legislation Committee will continue to monitor the bill as it proceeds through to stages 2 and 3. Good work has been done, relevant questions have been posed about how the bill will impact on the arts and the debate has been thought provoking.
- Alasdair Allan (Western Isles) (SNP):
Some years ago, I attended a conference on Scottish culture at the University of Aberdeen at which an eminent politician made an astonishing statement of her view of culture, a remark that lives with me still. She said:
"We should be careful about giving people in Scotland too much culture. My constituents, for instance, are not really familiar with books and libraries and so on."
Good manners prevent me from saying who that politician was. She is not here, and I know that no members present would dream of making such a condescending remark about their own constituents. I hope that we have come some way since such expressions of hostility to the idea of Scottish culture were routine and respectable, so the Scottish Government's proposals on culture in the bill are to be welcomed.
Every bonfire needs some kindling. The merger between Scottish Screen and the Scottish Arts Council will not only help to declutter our public landscape but will, more importantly, further support Scotland's vibrant and dynamic cultural community. Creative Scotland will build on the work that Scottish Screen and the Scottish Arts Council have already done and will have the freedom to support any form of creative expression. By working in partnership with other bodies, it will play a key part in our aim to promote Scotland's rich cultural heritage—an aim that all members share—by giving artists the chance to express themselves in every form of the arts. Such partnership working will not only be the case with national organisations but will, I hope, permeate down to the local level so that communities throughout Scotland can work towards shared goals.
We have seen the benefits when national Government works with, instead of against, local government in the new relationship between the Parliament, Government and COSLA, and perhaps there is something to be learned from that single-outcome-agreement approach that would be useful for our relationship with arts funding bodies. A couple of members have mentioned funding for Scotland's languages; one thing that emerges from the debate is that language maintenance is slightly distinct from artistic endeavours that happen to be in one of Scotland's languages. Perhaps there are things that we can learn about structures to help focus our attention on those languages.
Such successes can come about only when all sides are listened to and given the responsibilities they deserve. To effect change and move Scotland to a new cultural level, every side has to be inspired. That is why there should be no ministerial interference in day-to-day cultural or arts decisions—even in China, the days when symphonies were written by committee have long since passed. It was apparent from the consultation on the draft culture (Scotland) bill that that was something that the cultural community wanted to make clear. By listening to the community as a whole and to community-based organisations, while leaving responsibility artistically in the hands of creative Scotland, we hope once more to work in partnership with and inspire the cultural community to achieve the positive results that we all want.
Although the artistic and economic benefits of cultural activity go hand in hand, one slight concern I had with the previous draft bill was the overreliance on arguing for the economic benefits of art and culture. Before we even consider the vast array of physical, mental, social and spiritual benefits that arise from participation in the arts, we should ultimately celebrate the arts because they teach us something.
The Government clearly has a vision for the arts in Scotland, in which the Government works closely with creative Scotland but safeguards its artistic autonomy. For those who oppose or are suspicious of the bill, I wish only that they could be inspired to share that vision, particularly given that it took others eight years to get round to even drafting a bill, which we have done in our first year of Government.
There may be some people out there who still long for political interference in the arts or, worse still, who subscribe to the view of Scottish culture that is favoured by the unnamed politician whom I mentioned at the start. For someone like that, Gaelic has a phrase: "B' fheàrr leam ann an Hiort i." I could see her far enough—or, in fact, more specifically, as far as St Kilda. Happily though, there is no need for us to wish for that. The politician I am thinking of is further away than St Kilda these days; she is in Australia, and Scotland's cultural politics have moved on. I support the principles of the bill.
- Cathy Peattie (Falkirk East) (Lab):
I have always been a bit apprehensive when people talk about creative industries. It is not quite an oxymoron, but there is a lurking question: can culture be manufactured? Perhaps it can if we are talking about the process of selectively reshaping and packaging culture to suit marketing objectives, but in that case it would no longer be our culture. Our culture combines history and tradition with our current diversity of activity and perspective.
Creative Scotland's primary purpose should be to nurture, spread and use our culture to enrich the lives of people at home and abroad. Although the economic benefits of selling our culture to the world are clear, they should not be the main raison d'être for creative Scotland. We should give the world access to the true depth of our culture, rather than to a simplistic parody of what it means to be Scottish.
Likewise, skills development is essential and creative Scotland must dovetail with the work of the sector skills councils and so on, but we must not lose sight of the spontaneity of our grass roots culture—traditional and contemporary—which enthuses many and provides a launch pad for new talent.
I had some criticisms of the Cultural Commission's report when it appeared, more because of what was not in it than because of what was in it. Unfortunately, the Creative Scotland Bill loses many of the good points that were in the draft culture (Scotland) bill and has replaced them, if it has done so at all, with vagaries. The bill is a pale shadow of its former self.
The policy memorandum claims that the bill will not have an adverse impact on equal opportunities and seeks to create wider access. However, I see nothing about how to ensure that artists, performers and the public have equal access and entitlement to participate in the cultural life of our nation, regardless of disability. It is true that the bill refers to encouraging
"as many people as possible to access and participate in the arts and culture, and increasing the diversity",
but little is on offer in practical terms to ensure that it happens. Why should we take that on trust? If creative Scotland is anything like the Scottish Arts Council, trust will be in short supply.
On diversity, the policy memorandum dismisses the idea that the board of creative Scotland should include representatives of any sector or group on the ground that the Scottish Arts Council board provides a good example of diversity
"with its mix of experienced practitioners, those with a business background and … experience of overseeing significant national organisations."
Quite. I see nothing in the bill that indicates that creative Scotland will adopt a friendlier and more supportive attitude to our traditional arts and Scots literature than the Scottish Arts Council.
Of course, the SAC has recently been doing a great job of shafting Scottish traditional arts and language organisations, particularly those with a strong voluntary aspect. There is nothing quite like encouraging wider participation, and the SAC's actions have been nothing like encouraging. If we are having problems getting funding under the current regime, how much harder will it be when it is struggling to create a new body with diminishing resources? I would like to be written into the bill a clear commitment to support, promote and nurture our traditional arts and Scottish literature. If we do not do that, who will?
I am sure that all aspects of our arts and culture would benefit from greater clarity. As the Scottish Book Trust submission said:
"unless the Bill defines what it means by culture as it relates to artistic form, activity, and language, Creative Scotland will be dealing with a moving target open to infinite interpretation and argument. The imprecision in defining core functions increases the chance of ad hoc stances, especially since the intention is to exclude matters of cultural judgement from ministerial direction … leaving the door open to personalised judgements."
To put it another way, artists might be free to determine their creative direction, but if they want funding they will have to dance to creative Scotland's preferences and prejudices.
That brings us back to the wonderful example of the SAC and the traditional and voluntary arts and the Scots language. I welcome the minister's statement, but I ask her to listen to the debate and strengthen what I see as being a pale shadow of legislation. I look forward to stage 2 amendments that will make the bill worth while for traditional arts and the Scots language in Scotland.
- Aileen Campbell (South of Scotland) (SNP):
As everyone else has said today, it gives me great pleasure to speak in today's debate. After a lot of patient waiting and talk, we finally have the opportunity to discuss the formation of creative Scotland. As Pauline McLean, the BBC's arts correspondent said, when reminiscing about Jack McConnell's St Andrew's day 2003 speech,
"Fast forward four years and three months, three culture ministers, and a change in government, and we're only just at the start of the culture bill's … journey through parliament."
So, at long last, after much debate and consultation, the prospect of creative Scotland seems to be in sight.
There is much to be pleased about in the bill. It is a short bill that is designed to establish creative Scotland and allow it to operate in the best interests of our country. I am a member of the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee, which was the lead committee scrutinising the bill and which had the pleasure of listening to the thoughts and concerns of Scotland's cultural community.
Most of those who responded, regardless of whether they represented a local authority or were from the arts world, were happy, on the whole. They were breathing a sigh of relief that there is to be no more prevarication and that the new Government is taking action and heeding the advice that was presented to the Scottish Executive by arts organisations in response to the previous incarnation of the bill.
I will not pretend that there was no criticism of the bill. It would have been strange if no concerns or issues requiring further examination had been raised. After all, this is the stage 1 debate. However, I hope that any concerns will be put to good use and not used to score political points. We all need to look at the bill and realise its potential for allowing creativity to flourish, as well as allowing our artists to explore their media. That requires us in Parliament to trust those in the cultural and creative world to know what is best and how to make creative Scotland work well. It also means adopting an arm's-length approach to culture and the arts. The fact that the minister has listened to those appeals shows that the new Government trusts our artists and has no interest in micro-managing our country.
It is not just me who realises that the Government is listening. In its written submission to the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee, the Federation of Scottish Theatre said that it was
"heartened by the Scottish Ministers' implicit acknowledgement of their trust in the skills and expertise the Chair and Board of Creative Scotland bring to the execution of their responsibilities".
Simon Woods of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra said that the Government is
"interested in doing things that genuinely provide a better cultural life for the people of Scotland".
John Leighton of the National Galleries of Scotland said:
"We have seen an open and forward-looking approach which we welcome."
Even Ruth Wishart, in a fair and balanced piece in The Herald, said that there is
"a genuine desire in all the sectors to make Creative Scotland work … what cultural and creative Scotland on the ground longs for is a working template for the new order that it can understand and respect."
She acknowledged that there were tensions with the bill but warned that, if we sabotage this opportunity with creative Scotland,
"then we'll be well and truly stuffed."
We have a chance to make a difference. I recently attended an event that was addressed by Seona Reid, of the Glasgow School of Art. She spoke passionately about the need for a leader for Scotland's creative industries and she explored the economic potential of the sector. I acknowledge that we should not place a disproportionate emphasis on economic arguments, but I am persuaded by her view that Scotland should aim to be a creative hub because all the right ingredients are there.
We have creative cities, one of which is the UNESCO city of literature, as Jamie McGrigor said earlier. Glasgow boasts a popular musical heritage stretching from bands on Postcard Records in the 1980s to modern-day indie heroes such as Belle and Sebastian and Franz Ferdinand. We have amazing, world-renowned art schools and incredibly talented people. I have always been amazed by the resourcefulness of that group of people, many of whom are young, with a huge passion for and interest in the future of the arts in Scotland. Friends and contemporaries of mine have gone on to do impressive and important work. For example, Hannah Robinson, director of the Mary Mary gallery, has come a long way since first opening up her Dennistoun flat as a gallery space. Many others have managed and continue to manage to work successfully in their chosen fields.
We must do more to celebrate and encourage more cultural and arts opportunities for people and we must try to attract more people across the world to realise Scotland's potential. That is why I am heartened by the bill, which will enable creative Scotland to get going and streamline and cut bureaucracy. I was impressed by Anne Bonnar, who gave evidence to the committee. She has the bit between her teeth and she told us that she will never sit on her hands but understands and recognises the importance of this new entity for Scotland and beyond.
The bill is simple, clear, to the point and honest. The minister has taken on board the points raised in previous consultations and acted on them. Art for art's sake is given appropriate attention, and we have before us a bill that enshrines an arm's-length approach to the arts. It does not seek to stifle the arts and what they will be in the future, because it is not prescriptive in its use of definitions.
We should be confident that the passing of the bill will mark a new beginning for creativity in Scotland. We should also be confident in the abilities of our artists, practitioners and creative businesses to make creative Scotland work. I support the principles of the bill.
- James Kelly (Glasgow Rutherglen) (Lab):
I welcome the opportunity to take part in the debate and I acknowledge the previous Executive's work on the arts and culture. Obviously, I support the principle of the bill to establish creative Scotland, which takes forward the initiatives of Patricia Ferguson, the previous Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport. The bill will provide us with one organisation, which will strengthen the arts and culture in Scotland and provide a stronger platform from which to move forward.
There is a view in certain areas of the media that the arts and culture are all about lavish shows and grand performances that are attended by the great and the good. I do not subscribe to that view. On Saturday, I had the honour of attending my local gala day in Rutherglen—Landemer day—at which there were many community representatives and bands performing on Rutherglen Main Street. One such band was the Stonelaw high school soul band The Elements, which put on an excellent performance. The role for creative Scotland is to reach out into such communities and younger groups, build that talent and ensure that it flourishes and makes a contribution to Scotland as the 21st century progresses.
Some in the chamber have criticised the Creative Scotland Bill as being vague and unclear. As a member of the Finance Committee, I will concentrate on what I see as some of the bill's financial shortcomings. I note that the minister announced the commitment of an extra £5 million. Essentially, that will replace the £5 million cut in real terms that was announced when the budget was set for the new body. What sort of message was sent out about the establishment of creative Scotland when it was clear that it would have to do its work with a cut of £5 million in real terms? That was not a great start.
We need to monitor how the £5 million is released and spent. Members expressed concern about the additional workload that creative Scotland will take on. Even though creative Scotland will have the extra money that the minister pledged, the body will have to do more work from a reduced financial base, which is of concern.
The Finance Committee said that the financial memorandum was
"the weakest that has been produced in the current parliamentary session."
That was the unanimous view of committee members, including Scottish National Party members. Members of the Finance Committee expected the financial memorandum to provide detail about the costs involved in the implementation of the bill. We had serious concerns about creative Scotland's set-up costs. A figure of £700,000 was provided in the financial memorandum, according to which,
"work is at an early stage and a detailed estimate of one-off costs is not yet available."
When the committee asked a Government official about the matter, he explained that the figure represented a "shared judgment" between the people who were involved in discussions. I do not know what a "shared judgment" is, but when such sums of money are involved we need detailed costings, which have been built up from an accurate cost base and accurately reflect the cost of the bill's implementation.
The figure of £700,000 over two financial years was not even accurate, because the official admitted that spend would be greater in 2008-09 than it would be in 2009-10. In addition, there was to be no meeting to discuss the budget until September. If we are serious about drawing up costings and budgets, the issue must be considered before September.
I am concerned that incompetence is beginning to seep into the workings of the Government. The Law Society of Scotland had to point out that the first draft of the Public Health etc (Scotland) Bill was legally incompetent; The Sunday Times reported last Sunday that officials had had to alert the Government to an overspend on the budget; and the Creative Scotland Bill suffers from financial illiteracy.
The minister is responsible for the bill and must step up to the mark at stage 2, because the documents that were drafted at stage 1 were not up to the job.
- Iain Smith (North East Fife) (LD):
I declare an interest. I am a friend of the Byre theatre in St Andrews and the Dundee Rep theatre in Dundee—it was wise planning to situate the Dundee Rep in Dundee. I take the opportunity to congratulate the Dundee Rep on its recent success at the critics' awards for theatre in Scotland, at which it won four awards for its production "Peer Gynt", which yet again demonstrates that the theatre and its unique ensemble provide some of the best theatre arts in Scotland. The Rep has received a number of awards over the years and I congratulate it on its success.
Another production that received an award at CATS was a touring production that also appeared at Dundee Rep: "The Wall", by Borderline Theatre Company, which won the award for best ensemble. It is sad that Borderline has lost its grant from the Scottish Arts Council. I hope that it will survive despite that.
Cathy Peattie mentioned the funding cuts that the Scottish Arts Council has made to some traditional arts organisations. It has cut the grant to the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland, an organisation that produces, among other things, an annual arts festival in Auchtermuchty in my constituency. I hope that the TMSA finds the funding that it needs to continue to provide that valuable work.
It is important to be clear that not all of the Scottish Arts Council's decisions are being taken for artistic reasons; many are the result of its having insufficient money to provide the support that it wants to make to artists and arts organisations. It is sometimes not in the position to reward the innovation and quality that it sees in arts companies or to ensure the protection of our heritage in the traditional arts. The money has not always been there for the SAC to do that. I am not saying that the money that the previous Executive gave was adequate. There is no doubt that more funding is required. I am sure that the arts community would welcome more funding from any source. It is important to recognise that support for the arts is not necessarily equal to the money that is needed.
If creative Scotland is to work, it is important that it receives an adequate level of funding. The budgetary issues that were raised in the committees' reports on the setting up of creative Scotland are extremely important. I am concerned that the funding line for creative Scotland over the next few years shows a significant cut in real terms. Over the period from 2008 to 2011, its funding will reduce from £50 million to £48.04 million in cash terms. Even if we add in the £5 million over two years to which the minister referred in her opening remarks, there is still a real cut in cash terms between the current financial year and the end of the current spending round period. We also have to note the Government's estimate that approximately £1 million a year for two years will be needed for the costs of the merger of the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen into creative Scotland. That money has to be found from within the allocation. The result of all of that is a further £1 million cut in the money that the Government is making available to support the arts in Scotland. Serious questions remain to be asked about the funding of creative Scotland.
We need more clarity on the exact role that is being transferred from Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to creative Scotland. It is important therefore that, prior to the commencement of stage 2, the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee should consider taking supplementary evidence from the minister, the enterprise companies and the acting chair of creative Scotland to clarify the funding implications of today's announcement. In her speech, the minister announced important changes to what the Government has said to date. Many members have mentioned that. It is kind of strange to have a stage 1 debate that appears to be more like a stage 0.5 debate. Thus far, we do not have the clarity on the bill that we would expect to have by the time we reached the stage 1 debate.
A number of issues were raised in the debate, one of which is whether there is a need for the bill. I accept the need for clarity. The arts community is screaming for clarity on the way forward. The merger of Scottish Screen and the Scottish Arts Council needs to happen, and happen quickly. However, a question remains over whether new legislation is required to do that.
The issue of definitions was raised. Ian McKee's definition of culture was perhaps a little wide in including all forms of human endeavour. I am not entirely sure that I would include the Iraq war in any definition of culture. We have to be clear that there are definitions of culture out there. We need to look at them. It may be appropriate to consider putting some of them into the bill to make clear what we are talking about.
Another extremely important issue is the purpose of creative Scotland and the clarity of its structures, which as yet have not been fully clarified. It remains unclear who will take the lead on developing the creative industries in Scotland. I hope that that can be clarified, perhaps again by way of the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee taking supplementary evidence before stage 2. Given that our creative industries are an important part of our economy, it is extremely important for us to know who has that lead. At the moment, it is unclear whether that role will fall to creative Scotland, which does not necessarily have the expertise in the area, or to Scottish Enterprise. Someone needs to take the lead and the minister has to make clear who it will be. As it stands, the bill does not give that clarity.
- Elizabeth Smith (Mid Scotland and Fife) (Con):
From what has been said this afternoon, it is clear that the most important objective must be to ensure that the Parliament sends out the right message to the cultural and artistic world in Scotland as it faces up to a testing set of circumstances, particularly in an economic climate that is getting increasingly difficult. Whether we are talking about a single artist or a major international company, that world is a crucial part of our national heritage and our future social and economic infrastructure, so we have a duty to protect it and to enhance its interests.
Some of the most interesting sessions in the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee were those in which we debated the terms "arts", "culture" and "creativity". As Ian McKee rightly said, defining those terms is not an easy task, but Malcolm Chisholm in his eloquent speech and Robin Harper made the important point that we must have parameters as we debate the bill. Dr Donald Smith of the Scottish Storytelling Centre told the committee:
"if we do not begin with a workable definition, all the rest becomes difficult."
He said that that might affect the accountability for delivering the remit. That is a lesson to learn. It is not easy to give definitions but, as Malcolm Chisholm said, we should not shy away from that important task.
That issue precipitated debate in the committee about whether legislation is necessary. At times, the minister was not entirely convincing in speaking about why the bill is required to provide the new body, creative Scotland, with its functions. Those functions will be more diverse than the combined Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen functions, but the funding will be fairly tight. However, on the basis that the committee has agreed to accept the minister's assertion that a legislative requirement exists, the key focus of the debate must be to ensure that we make the bill as good as possible and worthy of the time that it has been given. We must live up to our name as a committee—Dr Smith described it as having done
"an effective job in bringing all the issues to the surface."—[Official Report, Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee, 7 May 2008; c 947, 948.]
It is now Parliament's job to deal with those issues head on.
I hope that the minister means what she says when she states that we must end the doubt and confusion over whether creative Scotland or Scottish Enterprise will be the lead body. As Jeremy Purvis said, we have had a raft of contradictory statements on that, so we are not convinced. I reiterate the point that many other members have made that we need clarification on that before stage 2. That debate may reflect the conflict between the objectives of fostering artistic excellence and ensuring economic viability. Those two objectives do not always go together, but it is extremely important that ministers resolve that issue before we move on. Heather Jack, of the Scottish Government's Europe, external affairs and culture directorate told us:
"there must be value … in having a more coherent approach between the bodies".—[Official Report, Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee, 30 April 2008; c 897.]
As Ted Brocklebank rightly said, into that debate must come the role of our universities and local authorities, which are often in the front line in supporting artists who are starting out on their professional careers.
A second challenge that we face concerns the desire to retain the arm's-length approach by ministers to cultural and artistic direction. The bill properly aspires to ensure that ministers do not interfere in creative Scotland's funding allocation process or in the judgments that affect the overall artistic direction of our national companies. Those judgments must always be reserved for those who have specific knowledge and experience in the relevant areas. We must be mindful of the need to ensure that the bill does not undermine that independence in any way. We need a little clarification of some of the language in the bill in that respect.
Scotland is blessed with immense talent in our artistic, creative and cultural industries and I have no doubt about the Government's passion—or that of any political party in the Parliament—for developing that further. However, serious thinking needs to be done before stage 2, especially about how to provide clarity of purpose, how to infuse real ambition, at home and abroad, and how to provide the sector with much greater economic support than it currently enjoys.
- Ken Macintosh (Eastwood) (Lab):
Members have raised a number of concerns about the Creative Scotland Bill, most of which can be traced back to two particular issues.
First, the legislative proposals have been pared back so much that there is genuine alarm that almost nothing is left in the bill. As Patricia Ferguson suggested, the danger is that we have stripped all the ambition from the bill and left simply a framework and good wishes.
Secondly, the establishment of creative Scotland is so lacking in definition and clarity—a point that every single speaker from the Opposition parties has raised—that it is unclear what or whether the bill will add to the development of arts and culture in Scotland.
It is no secret that the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee came perilously close to recommending the rejection of the bill. Only the shared commitment of all the committee members—and all members in this chamber—to Scotland's creative community of writers, artists, actors, film makers and musicians persuaded us that the bill could provide the cultural boost that we all want.
I do not doubt the minister's good intentions for creative Scotland. However, enthusiasm and good will are not enough. The Scottish Government's inability to give straight answers to the committee's many questions on the role and purpose of creative Scotland was, to be frank, not good enough.
The key difference between creative Scotland and the two agencies that it will replace lies in the development of its economic remit. The new body is to have some sort of role in supporting cultural enterprises and in promoting the creative industries—but what exactly is that role to be? That is a pretty basic, straightforward question, but the Government seems entirely incapable of answering it. The problem with not answering the question is that—as emerged from evidence heard by the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee—both creative Scotland and Scottish Enterprise believe that they have responsibility for the creative industries. That recipe for confusion does not instil confidence in the new set-up, but undermines it from the start.
Faced with the repeated question from the committee on which body would have lead responsibility for the creative industries—and following the contradictory claims and responses given by different witnesses—at the committee's very last evidence session on the bill the minister produced a paper that described creative Scotland as
"the leading public body in advocating for the creative industries."
What on earth does that mean? Is creative Scotland the lead agency, or is it not? Asked again by the committee, the minister replied:
"Why cannot we all work together?"
Then she added:
"There is no particular need to say that this or that person is in charge."
Bearing in mind the quotations given earlier by Jeremy Purvis, I would say that, if Ms Fabiani were a new age motivational guru, I would be encouraged by such a response. However, it is not a response that a member of the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee expects from a minister. It was gently pointed out to the minister that, at the very least, the agencies would need to know what their roles were, before they could work together. However, when asked again who had responsibility for the strategy on creative industries, the minister said:
"At the heart of the approach is what is best for the creative industries, not arguments about who is responsible for this or that, where the money lies and so on."
I will repeat that:
"not arguments about who is responsible for this or that, where the money lies and so on."—[Official Report, Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee, 14 May 2008; c 1012, 1027-1029.]
Not only do I fundamentally disagree with that statement, I have never heard a minister present such an argument to a committee. It is Parliament's job, when scrutinising legislation, to know specifically where responsibility lies. It is Parliament's job, and the minister's duty, to be responsible and accountable for the public purse.
The lack of clarity over roles and responsibilities extends far beyond the relationship with Scottish Enterprise. What is to be the relationship between creative Scotland and the local authorities? That point was raised by my colleague Malcolm Chisholm earlier. With no funding, and no outcome indicators, the new agency may have no leverage with local authorities. Is the relationship simply to be one of encouragement?
The minister talks of partnership working, but we have to consider the experience so far. The funding for the cultural co-ordinator's programme is to be cut, which does not exactly fill us with confidence.
I turn to the voluntary sector. Who would have believed that an SNP Administration would be happy to preside over cuts to Scottish language projects and to Scotland's traditional music and arts groups? That point was made forcefully by Cathy Peattie.
I rarely agree with Mr Rob Gibson, but I agree with him on this point: more than anyone, it is people in the voluntary sector and our local councils who do much to encourage greater participation in the arts and wider access to it. However, Mr Gibson and I will disagree on one point in that I believe that the bill offers little by way of comfort; instead, it threatens to force limited funds to stretch further, extending to new priorities that have yet to be defined. Even if we put the issue of resources to one side for a moment, the minister needs to clarify how creative Scotland will avoid duplication of effort with Voluntary Arts Scotland.
To give another example—Mr Brocklebank referred to this—it is clear from the emerging findings of the Scottish Broadcasting Commission that we could do so much more here in Scotland to offer the education and training needed to develop and expand that creative industry. The lead agency for developing skills in the broadcasting industries is Skillset, on behalf of the sector skills councils. Whether because of the muddying of creative Scotland's economic development role or some other factor, the transition team has made little attempt so far to develop or explore that relationship and, dare I say it, clarify where the lead responsibility lies. There is already an excellent relationship between Scottish Screen and Skillset, which can be developed and built on.
Resources, or lack of them, can of course be hugely influential in the outcome of any policy or legislative development. The portents regarding the Creative Scotland Bill are not good. Commentators from every side have expressed concern that the new body is expected to do more with less. The bill's financial memorandum was savaged by the Finance Committee in a way that I can scarcely remember happening before. Lack of clarity follows us at every step.
I am both encouraged and intrigued by the minister's announcement on funding. First, she threw away the line that perhaps the SNP would not break an election promise and that it might transfer the creative industries budget from Scottish Enterprise to creative Scotland. I am intrigued by that, because, at the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee, the minister first said that the matter was "currently being discussed." Minutes later, she reinterpreted what she meant by saying:
"There are no firm plans about transferring money … there is nothing on the table."—[Official Report, Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee, 14 May 2008; c 1030.]
Now the matter is back on the table, despite evidence to the contrary by Scottish Enterprise officials. So far, the minister has not said exactly how much the budget is. I could not find a reference to this at a glance, but I seem to remember that Scottish Enterprise officials suggested that the figure would be £2.3 million. Will the minister confirm whether that figure is correct?
I am neither cynical nor suspicious by nature, but, like other members, I will be looking at the small print in today's funding announcement before stage 2. As Iain Smith pointed out, the £5 million funding seems to be £2.5 million each year for two years.
The presentation of the bill to Parliament has been a mass of contradictions and confusion. There is insufficient funding. The relationship with the agencies that are most involved with the creative sector is unclear. There is no clarity of purpose for creative Scotland itself. The minister can detect for herself that, despite those deficiencies, there is genuine political support in the Parliament—there is certainly support from the Labour Party—for making a success of creative Scotland. Many issues have to be clarified at stage 2; the minister would do well to address at least some of them in her summing up.
- Linda Fabiani:
I thank the members who have contributed to the debate. A number of specific points were raised. I will not mention every individual who made a point, but I will try in the short time available to address all the general themes.
We are legislating to establish creative Scotland, because it will be a new body with new functions. We could have dissolved the Scottish Arts Council through the Privy Council but, with the agreement of the Privy Council, we decided to take the opportunity to combine the abolition of the Scottish Arts Council with the legislation to establish creative Scotland.
Ted Brocklebank and others raised the issue of the ministerial power of direction. We listened to what consultees said in their responses to the draft culture (Scotland) bill and the Creative Scotland Bill says that creative Scotland will have an arm's-length relationship with Government. For the first time, legislation will state that the Scottish ministers may not give creative Scotland any direction as to who or which cultural practices it can or cannot fund. I have heard Labour members say that that was always the case, but that position has never been stated in legislation before. It is now clearly established. I find it quite amusing that one Labour member after another said that there had always been a hands-off approach and then condemned me for not interfering in the Scottish Arts Council's decisions on flexible funding. They should all have been as sensible as Jamie Stone was on that point.
Ted Brocklebank was concerned about the power of direction. However, the power that is available to ministers is to ensure the good governance and financial propriety of creative Scotland, which is fully in line with the approach to all non-departmental public bodies.
Some members mentioned that our approach should not be solely concerned with economic benefits and Cathy Peattie said that there was too much of an economic emphasis in the bill. However, we amended the draft culture (Scotland) bill in order to remove its emphasis on the economic benefits of arts and culture. The relevant section of the Creative Scotland Bill now tasks creative Scotland with pursuing a range of benefits without attaching priority to any one in particular.
Various members mentioned the financial memorandum. As I explained to the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee and the Finance Committee, we introduced the bill before the budget for the transformation of the two organisations was settled because we wanted to establish the new organisation as soon as possible. As Aileen Campbell noted, the 2003 speech by the then First Minister was inspiring, but it was followed by consultation after consultation, a commission and then a draft bill. We felt that we owed it to the sector to get on with creating creative Scotland, because that was what the overwhelming majority of respondents wanted.
James Kelly mentioned the estimates. We are working to improve them and will offer the remaining detail before stage 2, after the detailed transition planning has been done.
- Jeremy Purvis:
I would like the minister to be specific with regard to certain financial issues and the transfer of funds from Scottish Enterprise.
- Linda Fabiani:
I am coming to that.
- Jeremy Purvis:
I am glad that the minister will be able to respond to my question.
Scottish Enterprise told the Education, Lifelong Learning and Culture Committee that the administrative funding of £100,000 is being transferred for the cultural enterprise office. However, the Government's policy was clear. Its manifesto said that it would transfer the budgets for the creative industries from Scottish Enterprise to creative Scotland. Scottish Enterprise said that those budgets came to more than £2.5 million. What is it that is being transferred from Scottish Enterprise to creative Scotland?
- Linda Fabiani:
Quite clearly, what is being transferred is the £100,000 for the cultural enterprise office, which is there to help people find the right way forward—using the route map that will be drawn by the creative industries forum—and to ensure that they get the best advice. At the heart of this process are creators and artists who must get good advice.
- Ken Macintosh:
Will the minister give way?
- Malcolm Chisholm:
Will the minister give way?
- Linda Fabiani:
No, I have given up enough time already; I have quite a lot to get through.
People are asking for clarification of creative Scotland's role in relation to the creative industries. As well as being the lead advocate for the creative industries, creative Scotland will support creative enterprises in the first stages of their business development. It will do that through the creative industries forum. The way forward must involve those with the necessary expertise working together to ensure that the best route map possible is provided for creative businesses. It should not duplicate effort and it must ensure an integrated package of support.
- Malcolm Chisholm:
On a point of order, Presiding Officer. I believe that there is a discrepancy between what the minister said in her opening speech and what she is saying now. Earlier, everyone in the chamber assumed that a new announcement was being made about the transfer of money, but we are now being told that the money that is being transferred is the £100,000 that was announced weeks ago.
- The Presiding Officer (Alex Fergusson):
I can only ask the minister to respond to that.
- Linda Fabiani:
I will repeat what I said in my opening speech:
"Creative Scotland will continue to evolve complementary specialist advice and information services for creative enterprises. In order for it to do that, I can confirm today that the resources that are devoted to that purpose by Scottish Enterprise will, from the beginning of the next financial year, transfer to creative Scotland."
The cultural enterprise office will provide those services, the budget for which comes to £100,000. That budget has been provided by Government since 2004. In addition, I announced the creative Scotland innovation fund, for which £5 million will be given to creative Scotland in its first two years, in addition to the already announced grant in aid. That shows that this Government is committed to making a success of creative Scotland and to investing in Scotland's culture.
Members have asked what creative Scotland's relationship will be with the voluntary sector. The Scottish Arts Council has already begun a review of its overall relationship with the voluntary sector, and creative Scotland will build on that work.
- Patricia Ferguson:
Will the minister give way?
- Linda Fabiani:
No, I would like to address other points that were made.
Members asked for clarification of creative Scotland's role in working with the further and higher education sector. We continue to recognise the importance of the role of culture in schools and in the delivery of the curriculum for excellence. That was reflected in the expressive arts guidelines for the school curriculum, which were published in draft form recently.
Creative Scotland will have an important strategic role to play in working with local authorities in the spirit of the concordat and the single outcome agreements. It will facilitate the development of appropriate networks and help build connections between the public and private sectors. I am talking regularly with those who are involved in local authorities and in the voluntary arts to ensure that all voices are heard.
- Ted Brocklebank:
I ask the minister to answer a very simple question, which I posed in my speech. As a cultural entrepreneur, if I want to propose a particular artistic project, where do I take that project, and who gives the authorisation for the money? Is creative Scotland authorised to do that, or does it have to go through another body?
- Linda Fabiani:
Mr Brocklebank has hit the nail on the head. That is what we have to achieve. It has been achieved in some measure by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, but we must ensure that the service is uniform for people throughout the country. Through the creative industries forum, we will reach that point. People will know exactly where to go and it will be well signposted.
- Ken Macintosh:
On a point of order, Presiding Officer. Is it in order for you to check exactly the minister's form of words in her opening statement today and in her closing remarks? The minister has come within a hair's breadth of misleading Parliament. She certainly led members in the chamber to believe that she was making a fresh announcement about the SNP's manifesto commitment to transferring budgets, and yet she made it clear at committee—on that specific point—that that was not going to happen. Between her opening and closing speeches, the minister has managed to blow the good will of the chamber by trying to mislead us. I ask her for further clarification, and possibly an apology, on that point.
- The Presiding Officer:
That is not strictly a point of order for me, but I will check the Official Report. I hope that you understand that I will have to do so, minister.
- Linda Fabiani:
Yes. I will close by addressing some of the points that Jamie McGrigor made. He had the courtesy to speak to me earlier and I know that there is concern in the publishing sector. I will undertake to meet Jamie McGrigor and representatives from publishers in Edinburgh, as he asked, along with representatives from the Scottish Arts Council. I will give the same courtesy to Publishing Scotland.
The bill offers the kind of opportunity that does not come along often. We have to seize it with both hands, which is why I encourage every member to support the bill.