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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 January 2006, 20:05 GMT
Curtain raised on arts shake-up
A scene from Wagner's Ring Cycle, staged by Scottish Opera
A new agency called Creative Scotland will tap into new potential
Scotland's culture minister has raised the curtain on a 20m-a-year drive to revitalise the arts industry.

Plans announced by Patricia Ferguson will see the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen merge into a new body called Creative Scotland.

Ms Ferguson said the move demonstrated the Scottish Executive's cultural aspirations.

However, the reforms fell short of the 100m annual investment called for by the Culture Commission.

The commission published a report in June last year in which it set out 124 recommendations to boost the arts sector and tackle funding problems.

It called for a new body called Culture Scotland to help develop Scottish culture at home and abroad and also for 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.

Culture Minister Patricia Ferguson
Creative Scotland will lead the development of national standards for the creative sector
Patricia Ferguson
Culture Minister

Ms Ferguson said the 20m annual funding would come into force from April 2007 and told MSPs the new legislation would require local authorities to develop "cultural entitlements" for the public.

These would include free access to live performances and access to local cultural heritage.

The minister said: "Today marks the start, not the end, of a new journey towards achieving our ambitious aspirations for Scotland's cultural life.

"Scottish ministers are now determined to continue that journey to reach a Scotland which values and celebrates its culture and its experience of culture."

Ms Ferguson said too often the success of talented performers was the result of good luck rather than good planning.

'A mixed press'

She said the new agency would enable Scotland's creative industries to prosper, adding: "Creative Scotland will lead the development of national standards for the creative sector and advise on cultural entitlements."

Several national collection bodies - the National Archives of Scotland, the Scottish Screen Archive and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland - will be added to the National Galleries of Scotland, the National Museums of Scotland and the National Library of Scotland.

Local museums, galleries and libraries will be eligible for increased funding.

Art exhibit
The executive's package falls short of the commission's proposals

Companies such as Scottish Opera and the National Theatre of Scotland will have to comply with a new set of national guidelines, the minister said.

Referring to the commission's report, Ms Ferguson said it was fair to say it had received "a mixed press".

She added: "The commission was asked to produce a route map to implement the ambitions the first minister has described - in practical and efficient ways that would focus the resources available on producing culture, not on fuelling bureaucracy.

"I don't propose to dwell on whether or not that was what the commission did.

"This government has a passion to see talent flourish."

Funding concern

The Scottish National Party said the onus was on the executive to deliver on its package of reforms.

Scottish National Party culture spokesman Michael Matheson welcomed the commitment to improve cultural understanding within the education system.

But he added: "The statement provides very limited detail about how some of these proposals will be implemented and I suspect the devil will be in the detail."

Scottish Green MSP Chris Ballance said he was concerned the extra funding would be diverted to institutions rather than individuals.

"It's right that councils have more substantial obligations - but we do need to hear how local authorities are expected to pay for this - otherwise the current postcode lottery will remain," said Mr Ballance.




SEE ALSO:
Arts bodies give report response
12 Sep 05 |  Scotland
Vision paints pretty arts picture
23 Jun 05 |  Scotland
Culture report hails 'optimism'
04 Nov 04 |  Scotland


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