Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop told MSPs "we have much to be proud of in our national companies" during a debate on Scotland's national performing companies on 2 May 2012.
Scotland's five national performing companies came into a direct funding relationship with the Scottish government in April 2007, having previously been with the Scottish Arts Council.
The five companies are the National Theatre of Scotland, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Ballet, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Scottish Opera.
Ms Hyslop said: "We have much to be proud of in our national companies" and noted that it had been a successful five years since the move to direct funding.
The Scottish government gives £23.5m annually in revenue to support the companies.
The culture and external affairs minister outlined five criteria in terms of what the public should expect of the companies: distribution, audiences, education and community involvement, the need to develop new talent and their international role.
Patricia Ferguson MSP, Scottish Labour's culture spokesperson, put forward the "idea of incentivising or perhaps rewarding local authorities which support the arts" .
She said in light of current budget cuts, the work of youth performing organisations should be recognised, and noted "audience numbers are not the only measure of success for popularity and value for money".
Scottish Conservative culture spokesperson Annabel Goldie said Scotland had a rich cultural life but: "it is also right that we are questioning if there are areas of concern".
Ms Goldie cited the number of educational events and activities up 69.7% since 2007/8 and yet the number of people attending "has only risen by around 23%".