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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 November, 2004, 17:24 GMT
Culture report hails 'optimism'
Art exhibition
The commission is looking at the way forward for the arts
Scotland's Cultural Commission has been "greatly encouraged" by the optimism of those within the country's arts sector.

The body, which is looking at the way forward for the arts in Scotland, has handed its first report to ministers.

Chairman James Boyle said the interim findings merely reflected the views it had received and did not include any recommendations on the way forward.

The responses included a call from the Scottish Arts Council for the creation of a dedicated culture minister.

The commission was established in June to look at culture in Scotland and decide on a framework for its future support.

Our meetings have been attended by people who are enthusiastic and who have greatly encouraged us with their optimism
Cultural Commission report
Its aim is to create a vision for arts in the country in 2030.

The commission launched a public consultation which has already received more than 200 submissions from arts organisations across the country. Eight public meetings were also held.

Mr Boyle said: "The most significant feature of this first phase has been the spirit of the meetings.

"The cultural sectors in Scotland are determined to succeed and to unite in making our case for the future of Scotland and the way to the generational change called for by the first minister.

"This interim report simply shows the breadth and depth of our first consultation period."

The second of the three phases of the consultation will start next week and a final report is expected in June 2005.

Consultation fatigue

The report said there had initially been speculation that the commission would be faced with a "cynical and jaded" arts community.

"We have found neither cynicism nor consultation fatigue," it said.

"Our meetings have been attended by people who are enthusiastic and who have greatly encouraged us with their optimism."

We want a country where artists are valued and encouraged to work internationally
Graham Berry
Scottish Arts Council
It said that people had confidence and ambition - and that frustration over lack of resources was accompanied by ideas about how to change the situation.

In its submission, the Scottish Arts Council called for new ways to fund arts projects in order to prevent a "permanent air of crisis".

Patricia Ferguson is currently the minister with responsibility for culture, tourism and sport, but the council said there should be "a fundamental change in the political perspective".

"One means to achieving this would be for a minister for culture in the cabinet, able to speak for cultural aspirations and heritage and provide leadership and political impact across the whole of government, and empowered through a culture act," it said.

Commission resignation

The council also called for the creation of a new "national cultural partnership" whose members would represent national cultural interests.

Scottish Arts Council Director Graham Berry said: "We want to put creativity at the heart of schools, public services, the workplace and society.

"We want a country where artists are valued and encouraged to work internationally."

Culture Commission chairman James Boyle
James Boyle presented the commission's first report
During the consultation the commission has heard appeals for a new method of funding - and concerns over the "bewildering complexity" of the existing grant set-up.

"People felt strongly that the cultural sectors need to be funded to take chances if they are to find the great new works," said the report.

"The case is being made to us for investment in the cultural sectors in exactly the way that entrepreneurial enterprise is funded - and with the same justifications."

Ms Ferguson said she was "delighted" at the level of participation in the consultation.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to influence the way culture is seen and the way cultural activities are organised in our future Scotland," she said.

"I welcome this interim report and look forward to seeing the final version next year."


SEE ALSO:
Culture commission loses composer
16 Jun 04 |  Scotland
Culture tsar denies cronyism
26 May 04 |  Scotland
New tsar to head culture review
22 Apr 04 |  Scotland


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