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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 November 2007, 18:10 GMT
Bill sets out new arts body plans
A performance by Scottish Ballet
The bill will see a single arts body established in Scotland
The Scottish Government is to press ahead with the merger of the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen to form a new national arts body.

The culture bill aims to form Creative Scotland from the two existing quangos.

Culture Minister Linda Fabiani told the Scottish Parliament that the new agency would be given total independence in all artistic matters.

The minister outlined what she said were significant changes to the bill to bring about the merger.

Ms Fabiani said the new agency would be "encouraged to take risks".

MSPs heard of plans to include a legislative pledge that Creative Scotland would have "complete autonomy" when providing financial and other support to those working in the creative sector.

'Artistic independence'

Ms Fabiani told MSPs: "I do think the principle of artistic independence is sufficiently important to enshrine in legislation.

"Therefore the bill, when introduced, will include a guarantee that no minister may interfere in the artistic judgement of the body in its support of the creative community."

She added: "It will have a licence from the government to take risks, to stimulate controversy and challenge accepted thinking."

The minister made the pledge in a statement to MSPs setting out the Scottish Government's culture strategy.

She said the bill had also been changed after concerns were raised that Creative Scotland would be required to consider the economic benefit to be gained from arts and culture.

The SNP manifesto said actually very little about culture, but this statement says even less
Iain Smith
Lib Dem MSP

Ms Fabiani also told MSPs that the administration had no plans to use legislation to nudge local authorities into boosting cultural provision.

Labour's Malcolm Chisholm said the proposals on Creative Scotland had initially come from the previous administration and welcomed the plans to carry this forward.

But he hit out at the absence of any mention of cultural entitlements or cultural rights in the minister's statement.

Conservative MSP Ted Brocklebank called for extra funding for the Edinburgh International Festival to be "de-tartanised" and made available for "outstanding creative work" from outside Scotland.

Lib Dem Iain Smith said the statement lacked any detail, direction or clarity about the future of the cultural sector in Scotland.

"The SNP manifesto said actually very little about culture, but this statement says even less," he said.

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) said it was pleased that the number of quangos would be reduced through the merger.

Community well-being and safety spokesman Councillor Harry McGuigan said: "Cosla looks forward to working with the Scottish Government to ensure that Creative Scotland embraces the vision and governance required to support cultural vibrancy across our communities."

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