Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advice

Published: 17 Mar 2020

Creative Scotland Coronavirus Updates

Last updated: 08 Mar 2021

Page contents

A message from our Chief Executive
Creative Scotland support
Specific guidance on funding support
£97m funding to support Cultural and Heritage sectors
Information for RFO’s regarding the CJRS
Current advice from the Scottish Government
Support from the Scottish Government
Guidance for the performing arts and venues sector
Public intentions on returning as audience members
Additional links that maybe useful
Contacting us

A message from our Chief Executive

I can fully appreciate the increasing anxiety and uncertainty the spread of COVID-19 creates for all of us, as individuals, for our families and friends, as well as in relation to the work we do.

These are extremely challenging times and I recognise the serious personal and professional impacts for artists, practitioners and organisations arising from Covid-19 as it spreads.

The situation has escalated with such speed and severity that it is impacting profoundly on the creative sector and the work you do with communities across Scotland. Here at Creative Scotland, our primary focus is to keep funding flowing to sustain individuals and organisations, not only through the immediate short-term impacts, but with an eye to the medium to long term recovery required.

Currently, we are ensuring that our resources are directed in the most effective ways possible. This is to support people and organisations over the coming weeks and months, and we are committed to keeping information flowing to you as often as possible.

We are in extraordinary circumstances, and it’s important that we work together to manage our way through the challenges. In this newsletter, you will find more information about some of the specific measures we are introducing.

We will work tirelessly to do everything we can, and with others, to safeguard the sector’s future. I look forward to the time when we all emerge from this crisis into what will undoubtedly be a different world but one in which culture and creativity are once again at the heart of the life of the nation.

Please look after yourselves, each other, and your loved ones.

Best wishes,

Iain Munro
Chief Executive

Creative Scotland support

We understand that these are extremely challenging and uncertain times and recognise the serious personal and professional impacts for artists, practitioners and organisations arising from Covid-19 as it spreads.

We appreciate that the advice published by the Scottish Government on COVID-19 and limiting social contact has profound significance for the sector. Our priority is to ensure we use our resources as best as possible to support people and organisations over the coming weeks and months.

Specific guidance on Creative Scotland funding support

Existing funding awards

Including Regularly Funded Organisations, Open Project Funding, Expo Fund, Youth Music Initiative.

Recipients may wish to explore whether activity can be deferred until later in the year. However, if this is not possible, all funding awards already committed will be honoured – regardless of whether the funded activity is cancelled, reduced or rescheduled.

We ask all recipients to honour contracts agreed with freelancers and artists and to think about what help they can offer their communities.

We have issued a separate communication to RFOs regarding contract processes for 2020/21.

Open Project Funding Update

In April 2020 we launched an updated version of the Open Project Fund; Open Fund: Sustaining Creative Development provides support for individuals and organisations to sustain their creative development in the coming months.

Bridging Bursary programme

On Friday 27 March 2020 we launched a Bridging Bursary Programme to provide financial support to individuals who are unable to sustain their creative work and practice in these extremely challenging times.

The Bridging Bursary Programme was in two strands:

There were a total of 2,293 awards made, with a total value of £4,302,561. 80% of the total number of requests were approved in phase 1 and 2.

More information about the award made can be found on the Bridging Bursary Fund page.

£97m funding to support Cultural and Heritage sectors

On 6 July 2020, the UK Government announced a £97m funding package to support the cultural and heritage sectors in Scotland. Details of the support announced for the cultural sector includes the following.

Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund

A targeted £12.5 million fund to support Scotland’s performing arts venues. The Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund will help venues who cannot yet reopen to their audiences due to the ongoing impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Applications are now closed.

Grassroots Music Venues Stabilisation Fund

Support for grassroots music venues across Scotland through the Scottish Government’s Grassroots Music Venues Stabilisation Fund. The £2.2m fund, which was announced by Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop on 10 July 2020, is being delivered through Creative Scotland.

The purpose of the fund is to provide grassroots live music venues, that were financially sustainable before COVID-19, with the funds to prevent permanent closure and help with sustainability.

Applications are now closed.

The Independent Cinema Recovery and Resilience Fund

The Independent Cinema Recovery and Resilience Fund is a £3.5million fund from the Scottish Government. The aim of the Fund is to help secure the survival of Scotland’s independent cinemas, enabling them to re-establish and adjust their business models in response to COVID-19. The fund addresses the critical financial need faced by Scotland’s independent cinemas to enable them to return to full-time operation, significantly reducing the risk of wide-spread redundancies and closure of vital community assets.

Applications are now closed.

Culture Organisations and Venues Recovery Fund

The £15m Culture Organisations and Venues Recovery Fund will support organisations that provide opportunities for cultural engagement and who have been unable to trade due to the impact of COVID-19. It includes both organisations who provide opportunities for audience engagement (such as galleries, performing arts spaces, commercial theatres, comedy clubs and nightclubs) as well as those that enable and deliver cultural activity (such as production facilities, music and dance companies).

Applications are now closed.

Hardship Funds for Creative Freelancers

The £5m Hardship Funds for Creative Freelancers will address the current financial hardship being felt by creative freelancers who normally work in the culture sector, but whose work has been impacted by COVID-19.

Applications are currently closed.

Sustaining Creative Practice Fund

The £5m Sustaining Creative Practice Fund will support artists to continue developing new creative work that will make a significant contribution to Scotland’s recovery from COVID-19.

This includes the £1.5million for the Culture Collective programme (referred to in the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government), supporting organisations employing freelance artists to work in and with communities across Scotland. The programme is due to launch in early November.

The remaining £3.5m will be added to Creative Scotland’s existing Open Fund which is open for applications from individuals now.

Culture Collective Fund

The Culture Collective Fund is a new £1.5million Scottish Government initiative to establish a network of creative practitioners, organisations and communities to respond to the impact of COVID-19 by providing employment opportunities and actively engage people in shaping the future cultural life of their community.

Applications are now closed.

Youth Arts Fund

The £3m Youth Arts Fund will ensure creative opportunities for children and young people continue to exist across Scotland despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund will include targeted and open funding to youth music and wider youth arts organisations, a scheme to devolve grants locally to artists who work with young people and small grants delivered directly to young people to support them fulfil their creative ambitions.

Applications are now closed.

Information for RFO’s regarding the UK Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is the UK Government scheme that launched on Monday 20 April.

The grant currently covers 80% of their usual monthly wage costs for the time they are being furloughed, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions (up to the level of the minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contribution) on that subsidised furlough pay. This funding level will remain in place until the end of July 2020. You have until 31 July to make a claim for any periods of furlough up until 30 June.

The UK government want to ensure that organisations already in receipt of public money do not, as a result of a CJRS claim, end up with more income than they would otherwise have had if the COVID measures had not been in place.  This may impact Regularly Funded Organisations (RFOs) that get a large proportion of their income from public grant, for example, free-to-access venues or those in remote locations.  Whether an organisation is impacted by this guidance depends on their income position plus the size of the CJRS claim, therefore, it is difficult to predict who it will effect.

This information follows guidance published by Arts Council England, Arts Council Northern Ireland and the Scottish Government (SG) has published similar guidance on how organisations in receipt of public funding are eligible for the CJRS.  The guidance states that:

“Organisations in receipt of public funding are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) so long as:

  • they do not already receive public funding that is explicitly designed to cover the staff costs for which they are now claiming (Note: that Scottish Government grants usually support activities and outcomes rather than specific staff costs] and
  • the combined total of other public funding and Job Retention Scheme payments should not represent more than 100% of the level of total income they would have expected to receive during this period in a non-COVID scenario (for the avoidance of doubt, this includes earned and contributed income)”

Each RFO must decide how and whether to apply for the CJRS. Organisations funded by Creative Scotland may do so; however, they must follow the Scottish Government's guidance. While we are unable to advise on specific CJRS applications we can provide the following clarification:

In relation to the first bullet point in SG’s guidance above:

  • Creative Scotland Regular Funding is to help organisations to plan, operate and deliver their work.  It is not explicitly designed to cover the staff costs.

In relation to the second bullet point in Scottish Government’s guidance above:

  • The period to be considered for CJRS impact should be (1) the specific period of the CJRS claim and (2) the 2020/21 full financial year, and only if both tests fail (i.e. CJRS payments plus public funding exceed expected income in a non-COVID scenario in both periods) will Creative Scotland be required by Scottish Government  to consider reducing future grant payments
  • Public funding refers to all grants from public sources i.e. other Creative Scotland funding (YMI etc), Scottish Government, Local Authorities, Scottish Enterprise, Highland and Islands Enterprise etc.
  • Total income refers to all sources of income and includes public funding, membership fees, donations, fundraising and income from operations (e.g. tickets, courses, cafes, bars, rent etc.)
  • If costs increase or decrease from that expected this has no bearing on the CJRS claim as the guidance provided relates solely to income
  • If a planned CJRS claim exceeds the 100% level then the claim should be reduced to a level below 100% which would make it eligible under the government guidance

This clarification may change depending on further CJRS guidance. Advice can be provided via the Scottish Government’s helpline on 0300 303 0660 which is open Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm.

Further Support from the Scottish Government

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop addressed the Scottish Parliament on the 18 March on the economic impact of COVID-19 in Scotland and outlined the actions being taken by the Scottish Government to support businesses including a package of measures worth £2.2 billion from 1 April 2020 which include:

  • a full year’s 100% non-domestic rates relief for retail, hospitality and tourism
  • £10,000 grants for small businesses in receipt of the Small Business Bonus Scheme or Rural Relief
  • £25,000 grants for hospitality, leisure and retail properties with a rateable value between £18,000 and £51,000
  • 1.6% relief for all properties, effectively freezing the poundage rate next year
  • First Minister to convene an emergency meeting of the Financial Services Advisory Board
  • urging local authorities to relax planning rules to allow pubs and restaurants to operate temporarily as takeaways
  • extending the go live date for the deposit return scheme to July 2022
  • halting the introduction of the Visitor Levy Bill

This is subsequent to an announcement on 14 March in which measures to limit the impact of COVID-19 on the business community in Scotland were announced by Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, including:

  • a 75% rates relief for retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a rateable value of less than £69,000 from 1 April 2020
  • an £80 million fund to provide grants of at least £3,000 to small businesses in sectors facing the worst economic impact of COVID-19
  • 1.6% rates relief for all properties across Scotland, effectively reversing the planned below inflation uplift in the poundage from 1 April 2020
  • a fixed rates relief of up to £5,000 for all pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 from 1 April 2020.

We are working with colleagues in the Scottish Government to understand how this funding support relates to our sector.

Benefits for Freelancers impacted by Coronavirus cancellations was announced as part of the recent UK Government Budget announcement:

The Scottish Government has put together this short summary for the sector on the different measures of support available.

We continue to make the case to the Scottish Government

We will continue to work closely with colleagues at the Scottish Government to advocate support for the sector, share the impacts arising, and make the case for significant additional resources to help mitigate against the short, medium and long term effects of this situation.


A helpline providing businesses across Scotland with advice and guidance on COVID-19 has been announced by the Scottish Government. The helpline, which is now live, will answer questions from businesses related to COVID-19. The helpline will also help the Scottish Government identify the current challenges facing businesses.

The business helpline number is 0300 303 0660. The helpline is open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm. (Callers should select option one to speak to the COVID-19 team).

Current advice from the Scottish Government

The situation is constantly evolving and up to date information on the situation in Scotland is available on the Scottish Government website.

For advice on how to prevent the spread of coronavirus visit NHS inform.

For advice on traveling abroad visit Fit for Travel.

Guidance for the performing arts and venues sector

The Scottish Government has published guidance for the performing arts and venues sector on safe re-opening during the coronavirus pandemic.

Public intentions on returning as audience members

Following the lockdown measures introduced in the UK in March 2020, the impact on the arts sector – like much of wider society - has been sudden and severe. As these measures were eased over Summer 2020, Creative Scotland commissioned research looking at the attitudes of the general population in relation to arts participation and attendance.

The first wave of research completed in August 2020 and invited 1033 participants to complete an online survey, a representative sample of the Scottish population. View and download the summary report.

The second wave of research published in January 2021, provides valuable insight regarding how the Covid-19 pandemic has changed attitudes towards, and engagement with, cultural activity and also looks at public attitudes towards cultural participation in the future.

We've pulled together an A-Z of the funding and resources available to those in the creative community, who have been affected by Coronavirus.

Keeping you updated

We will continue to update this web page and keep our social media channels updated as and when guidance and information changes, including links to resources and information specifically for people who are self-employed, and for creative organisations and businesses.

If you have any other specific questions or concerns regarding the impact of Coronavirus on funding or our work that the above advice does not address, please email:

We are receiving a large number of enquiries and will look to respond as soon as possible. However, as this is a very challenging, ever changing context, please bear with us while we work our way through the queries.

Creative Scotland preparedness

For awareness, Creative Scotland has also been reviewing its own preparedness to ensure we can continue to deliver the most effective service whilst dealing with the emerging situation and the guidance on social distancing from the Scottish Government.

Please also be mindful that our staff may be directly impacted by the virus, but we will look to minimise impact on our business operations wherever possible.

Contacting us

Following the Government advice on Coronavirus, our offices are closed. However we are still very much available to speak by email and phone.

For enquiries specifically regarding Coronavirus, please email

More generally, depending on your enquiry there are number of ways you can get in touch with us.