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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 June, 2005, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Vision paints pretty arts picture
Art exhibit
The commission wants more funding for galleries and libraries
Scotland's arts sector could receive a 100m a year cash boost under plans put forward by the Cultural Commission.

The body has set out a list of radical proposals to plug an arts funding gap and improve the global profile of the Scottish artistic community.

Its 124 recommendations are the result of a year-long consultation with 29 of the policies requiring new legislation.

The Scottish Executive said it would study the commission's measures and that the status quo was not an option.

The funding boost would be facilitated through the creation of a Culture Fund which would be used to inject cash into the arts.

If we succeed, we will change the face of our nation
James Boyle
Culture Commission

A new body called Culture Scotland would run alongside the fund and would help develop Scottish culture at home and abroad.

The other main thrusts include the introduction of a Culture Bill by 2007, the creation of a new deputy culture minister post for Scotland and a tax support scheme for artists.

The commission, chaired by former Radio 4 controller James Boyle, also called for increased funding for public libraries, raising national standards of architecture, museums and galleries and a "national council" for creative individuals.

The remaining recommendations are:

  • Four cultural rights ensuring that every person in Scotland can share in any publicly funded cultural activity

  • Entitlement schemes for schoolchildren including new culture vouchers which will be piloted in Scottish schools

  • A national council for creative individuals

  • A one-stop national box-office and what's on service to help customers and venues.

Mr Boyle said the report did not intend to "diminish" the work of organisations such as the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen but wanted to bring about a "confident, cultured society" for the 21st century.

However, his body did recommend a review of the "national" status of Scotland's arts bodies suggesting they would need to comply with a set of requirements to retain their titles.

Mr Boyle said: "We should celebrate our current successes but take steps to encourage more of our fellow citizens to share Scotland's cultural life.

"If we succeed, we will change the face of our nation.

"The commission believes these recommendations are a route map to achieving this."

Over the coming months we shall consider in detail the broad range of issues and recommendations outlined by the commission
Patricia Ferguson
Culture Minister

The commission is hoping for an executive response to its report by St Andrew's Day on 30 November.

Culture Minister Patricia Ferguson said: "I am determined that our priority will be to spend money on the arts, rather than on unnecessary bureaucracy.

"Over the coming months we shall consider in detail the broad range of issues and recommendations outlined by the commission and after the summer recess, we shall have a parliamentary debate on the way forward for Scotland's culture."

The Scottish National Party said the government should act upon the report's findings and use them to fully develop Scotland's cultural sector.

Its culture spokesman Michael Matheson said: "The executive must now study the details of this report, seize on the opportunity it represents and show clear leadership in laying out a strategy for cultural development that recognises the rich and diverse talent Scotland offers."

'Mutual ambition'

The Scottish Arts Council welcomed the report and said it would continue with its work until the future of the arts in Scotland had been secured.

A spokesman said: "Our immediate impression is that there is much work ahead, both in considering the recommendations and in taking forward our mutual ambition for investing in and developing culture.

"We see the commission's report as a beginning, rather than as an end.

Arts funding should remain at arms' length from politicians and should enable artists rather than police them
Chris Ballance

"We intend to continue our current ambitious work, until we are sure that the future will provide the best solution for the arts in Scotland."

The principal of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) John Wallace was equally positive.

Mr Wallace said: "It is a big vision, a bold vision, and one which, if achieved, would set Scotland high amongst the small nations of the world.

"The report is the first to realise the totality and complexity of Scotland's cultural fabric."

However, local authority umbrella group Cosla launched a scathing attack on the report.

Its arts spokesman Graham Garvie said: "This is nothing more than a culture con that has to be seen for what it is - dull, unimaginative, lacking in vision and self-serving.

'Red tape'

"The more cynical among us in Scotland's 32 councils could be forgiven for thinking that it is nothing more than a smokescreen, costing nearly 500,000 of taxpayers' money and taking more than a year to come out with the answer they had in mind from the start."

The Greens said they were concerned that the creation of so many arts bodies could give rise to too much red tape, potentially stifling the arts across Scotland.

The party's arts and culture spokesman, Chris Ballance, said: "I am concerned these proposals could impose extra levels of bureaucracy.

"It is vital we do not divert funding for artists into quangos and new bureaucracies.

"Arts funding should remain at arm's length from politicians and should enable artists rather than police them, or tie them up, with new bureaucratic forms."

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