Governance in the Arts and Creative Industries

Good governance is vital in enabling arts and creative organisations to thrive in increasingly challenging times. See guidance and advice on various aspects of governance.

Creative Scotland recognises the fundamental importance of good governance in enabling arts and creative organisations to thrive in increasingly challenging times. There exist several reference sources for such organisations looking for informed and up to date advice on various aspects of governance.

The Scottish Governance Forum’s Governance Code for the Third Sector (PDF) outlines key elements of good governance for the boards of charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises in Scotland. It sets these out under five key principles: organisational purpose, leadership, board behaviour, control and effectiveness.

For organisations that operate outside the third sector, or require more prescriptive guidance on good governance, the Cultural Governance Alliance’s Practical Guide to Governance offers a range of essential information, bespoke resources and downloadable templates to assist in effective governance. Creative Scotland is grateful for conversations with Arts Council England and Clore Leadership in developing this guidance for the Scottish context. It is important to note several key differences that exist when using this guide in Scotland:

Company Law

Although much of company law is reserved to Westminster and the Company Law Act 2006 applies in Scotland, different governance structures, such as Scottish Limited Partnerships, are available in Scotland.


Scotland has its own independent registrar and regulator for charities, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), which was established by the Charities and Trustees Investment (Scotland) Act 2005. All bodies wishing to act as charities in Scotland must register with the OSCR. Guidance is available on the OSCR website on structures of charitable organisations in Scotland, managing a Scottish charity, and charity trustees.

Any charity registered in Scotland that falls below a gross income of £500,000 (unless both its gross assets exceed £3.26m and its gross income exceeds £250,000) can choose to opt out of a full audit. This is lower than the £1m threshold for an audit exemption in England and Wales with the same conditions.

Scotland also has its own fundraising regulator, the Scottish Fundraising Standards Panel, which oversees fundraising standards and adjudicates on escalated complaints.

Also see the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations who offer training, funding opportunities and information and support to help people set up and run their organisations.

Bankruptcy and Insolvency

Both bankruptcy (often called ‘sequestration’ in Scotland) and insolvency are administered by the Accountant in Bankruptcy in Scotland.