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Culture sector facing ‘perfect storm’ of cost pressures, MSPs warned

Creative Scotland warned organisations are facing rising costs, stagnant funding and falling income (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Creative Scotland warned organisations are facing rising costs, stagnant funding and falling income (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Rising costs are creating a “perfect storm” for Scotland’s cultural organisations, with up to a quarter facing insolvency in the next few months, MSPs have heard.

The chief executive of Creative Scotland said problems are particularly bad for groups based in buildings with large fixed costs, such as theatres.

Iain Munro made the comments as he addressed Holyrood’s Culture Committee on Thursday, saying cultural organisations are also facing falling income.

He told the committee: “It is fighting for survival in many quarters.

“I’m very concerned about that perfect storm at the moment and I don’t want us to do anything that’s going to add to the challenges of that.”

Discussing the 121 groups which Creative Scotland regularly supports, he said up to a quarter of them could be “insolvent in the next few months”.

Written evidence from the Government agency added: “A combination of rising costs, falling income from other sources, and the implementation of public policy developments is placing unprecedented pressures on the sector.

“Creative Scotland recognises that many organisations we fund on a regular, multi-year basis have received unchanged levels of funding for a number of years and that this is increasingly unviable.

“Funding at a ‘standstill’ level, particularly with current and projected levels of inflation, represents an increasing year-on-year cut for organisations currently supported through our regular funding programme.

“Sector recovery is fragile and gradual, and the benefits of the sector Covid-19 emergency support delivered are being more than overtaken by a ‘perfect storm’ of factors.”

Culture Secretary Angus Robertson spoke to the committee later on Thursday.

He acknowledged the difficulties the sector is facing, noting Government spending is currently under review.

Mr Robertson said there is a “mixed picture” around audiences returning after the pandemic, adding: “Most of all, there is continuing uncertainty as the rising cost of living means that people are undoubtedly cutting back on leisure spending.”

First Minster’s Questions
Angus Robertson acknowledged the sector faces difficulties (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Conservative MSP Donald Cameron asked the Culture Secretary about growing numbers of Historic Environment Scotland buildings being closed to the public, saying there appeared to be a policy of “managed decline”.

Mr Robertson said many historic buildings such as castles are eroding over time.

He said: “Managed decline – it’s not a phrase that I’m comfortable with.

“But taken at face value, one is trying to manage an estate and that estate is declining.”