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Tuesday, 2 January, 2001, 17:12 GMT
A year of drama and more to come
Stage door
It was a turbulent year for some companies
By BBC Scotland Arts Correspodent Pauline McLean.

The year 2000 was one of ups and downs for the Scottish arts world.

On the up side - Arts Minister Sam Galbraith announced an extra investment of 27m.

However, on the down side, that had to be divided across all the existing arts companies, and a brand new one - the soon to be National Theatre of Scotland. It also had to last over three years.

Scotland also got its first national cultural strategy, a document which said little that the arts community did not already know.

Scottish Opera
Scottish Opera was fighting a cycle of debt
Support for all sections of the arts, particularly those previously neglected, was welcomed, but hardly radical.

At Scottish Opera, a saga began - as did Das Rheingold, the first opera in Wagner's epic Ring Cycle which premiered at the Edinburgh Festival Theatre.

While that won critical acclaim, Scottish Opera's 2.1m overspend in the previous season won widespread condemnation.

Managers and directors were hauled before the Scottish Parliament's Culture Committee as were the other national companies.

The crisis meant that the opera season - with the exception of the Ring Cycle which has sponsorship from the Bank of Scotland and the Edinburgh International Festival - was shortened.

There was controversy in the nation's galleries and museums as they searched their collections for Nazi stolen art

Pauline McLean
The company has already made a bid to the Scottish Arts Council and the Scottish Executive for additional funding but so far there has been no word.

If Scottish Opera's former management were this year's villains, at least the heat was off the Scottish Arts Council.

True, it did have a bit part to play in the Scottish Opera saga, but at least it was only a minor role.

After much promising, it threw its first meeting open to the public and promptly made all the financial decisions behind closed doors.

The SAC won approval with a new scheme to award 10 25,000 grants to working artists around Scotland.

Burrel Collecton - The Thinker
Pause for thought at the Burrell Collection
Admittedly there were some tears from highly strung losers, fuelling the decision to tell everyone in advance this year whether they have won or lost.

There was controversy too in the nation's galleries and museums as they searched their collections for Nazi stolen art.

The keepers of Glasgow's Burrell Collection did not find any although they did uncover some impressive fakes.

However, no fakes in the Queen's collection of Old Masters.

A new gallery at Holyrood will be built to house her entire collection of Renaissance drawings.

Thrown a lifeline

The Queen's Gallery is likely to be a popular haunt with the politicians, particularly since it is due to be completed almost a year before the neighbouring parliament.

So what can we expect from 2001?

The nation's industrial museums might have been thrown a lifeline in the dying days of 2000 but not all of them.

While the national mining museum, the fisheries museum and the maritime museum have all secured government funding, the rest are struggling for survival.

Edinburgh Festival performers
Question marks over the Edinburgh Festival season
Expect more campaigning for a fairer spread of funds between local and national museums, not least from the custodians of the UK's biggest civic collection in Glasgow

There are likely to be similar calls for a fairer division of funding between other national and non-national art forms.

The Scottish Arts Council has yet to decide the breakdown of the additional funding it received but it is likely to be under pressure from local and national sources alike.

The bubble may have burst on Scottish festivals with the demise of the Aberdeen Alternative Festival and fears that the Edinburgh Festival season has grown too big.

Expect the first Edinburgh Festival strategy in January which includes plans for the eight festivals which now make up Edinburgh's six week long festival season.

As the creative industries grow, there is likely to be a lot more support and recognition.

Sir Terence Conran recently announced plans for a creative industry network in Edinburgh - expect other Scottish towns and cities to follow suit.

And overall? Expect more ups and downs in 2001 and more drama than a Wagnerian opera.

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See also:

16 Aug 00 | Scotland
Scottish cultural plan unveiled
01 Oct 99 | Scotland
Plans to put culture on curriculum
24 Aug 98 | Edinburgh Festival
Scottish arts takes up role of wealth of the nation
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