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Strategy Update and Funding Review

Public conversations

Creative Scotland has now completed a series of 17 Public Conversation Events around Scotland and engaged in a Public Online Conversation, to explore new ways to fund arts and creative activity as part of our Strategy Update and Funding Review.

Thank you to all the participants who attended and contributed to each of the events and to all who have engaged and contributed via the online conversation. (Please note this has now closed). This has been crucial in helping guide the next steps in Creative Scotland’s funding approach.

We now move into the critical review and evaluation stage and will be in touch again very soon to update on the next steps of the Funding Review. Please watch this space.

Below is an overview of the approach we are taking in our Strategy Update and Funding Review, which these events and the online conversation were part of.

A review of Creative Scotland’s strategic approach

In 2014 Creative Scotland published a 10-year plan for the arts, screen and creative industries, Unlocking Potential, Embracing Ambition.

We are now five years into that plan and the environment in which Creative Scotland, and the creative sectors that we support, operates has changed.

Last year, the Scottish Government published a new National Performance Framework that for the first time included specific outcomes for Culture and requires all public bodies to show how their work has impact across all eleven national performance outcomes. Also, in 2018 the draft Culture Strategy for Scotland was published which clearly recognises the cultural, social and economic value of culture in all its forms to the people and communities of Scotland and the transforming and empowering effect it has.

In addition, pressures on the public purse have grown in recent years. Local Authority funding for culture has reduced, The National Lottery income for good causes has fluctuated and leaving the European Union will have a significant impact on the creative sectors.

Therefore, as we reach the halfway point in the 10-year plan it is appropriate that we assess what has been achieved and consider what will be required to ensure there is a vibrant creative life in Scotland over the next five years and beyond.

Developing a new approach to funding

In 2018 we said we would be undertaking a review of our long-term, overall approach to funding.

The objective of this review is to establish the best funding approach for Creative Scotland, utilising our combined Scottish Government and National Lottery income, to support a strong and thriving creative life in Scotland.

Creative Scotland’s 2018/19 budget was £92m, approximately two thirds from Scottish Government (Grant-in-Aid) and one third from The National Lottery.

We currently distribute this funding through three funding routes:

This review will consider the future needs of creative organisations, individual creative practitioners and the creative and cultural life of the people of Scotland.

Alongside this longer-term approach however, there needs to be consideration of the immediate need for regular funding for creative organisations that will take effect from 1 April 2021 when current RFO contracts will finish. We appreciate the need to discuss and communicate on plans for the next round of Regular Funding more quickly and will communicate on this as quickly as we can we can.

The five phases of work

There are five phases to this work:

  • Phase 1: Research (November 2018 – April 2019)
  • Phase 2: Internal and Public conversations (March – July 2019)
  • Phase 3: Refine and Design (Summer 2019)
  • Phase 4: Testing (Autumn 2019)
  • Phase 5: Conclude (Winter 2019)

It is worth noting that this work is distinct from, but complementary to, the inquiry which has recently been announced by the Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee of the Scottish Parliament. Their inquiry is looking at broader issues around how to sustain funding for the arts in Scotland and how easy it is for artists and creative freelancers to access funding. However, the responses to this inquiry (which closed for submissions on 12 April) and the subsequent Committee Report will be helpful in informing the conversations we have with the public about our own approach.

What has happened so far?

Work on the review began last summer with the evaluation of the process for Regular Funding 2018-21. The evaluation report was completed in October 2018 and made a number of recommendations for Creative Scotland to consider.

From November we started widening the work beyond regular funding to look at the overall approach to funding.

Phase 1: Research (November 2018 – April 2019)

We have been making good progress since November and have completed Phase 1: Research. Three strands of research have been underway:

  • a comprehensive analysis of different models of funding and cultural investment used by similar creative and cultural agencies across the world as well as investigating financing models used by enterprise development agencies and in social enterprise investments
  • a statistical review of Creative Scotland’s historical funding; and
  • a review of previous consultations undertaken with the creative sector, including Creative Scotland’s sector reviews, Scottish Government Culture Strategy consultations, recommendations from the evaluation of the 2018-21 RFO process, and feedback from RFOs gathered through the Annual Reports returned in 2018/19.

What happens next?

Phase 2: Public conversations (May – July 2019)

We are now moving on to Phase 2: Public Conversations. Starting at the end of May we will be enabling discussions around Scotland, through public events and online for those who cannot take part in person, and to engage in a wider public conversation.

See the full list of these events and how to get involved.

We welcome the involvement from all stakeholders and the public in these conversations, whether in person or online. We expect the conversations to run until the end of July.

Supporting information (including summaries of the research) to help inform these conversations will be published shortly.

Phases 3-5

Following on from these public conversations, we will develop and test potential new funding models during the Summer and Autumn this year.  At this point we will also be able to give more definitive timelines on implementing any new ways of funding, as these depend on the solutions generated with the creative organisations, practitioners and the people and communities that take part in this review.


Below are some useful documents, and we will be publishing further supporting materials to help inform the conversations.

Evaluation of 2018-21 RFO Process - report by Wavehill Ltd

In July 2018, we appointed consultants Wavehill to conduct an independent evaluation of the Regular Funding 2018-21 process.

Open Project Fund - awards data for 2018-19

View data on our Open Project Fund for 2018-19, including number of applications and awards made, in PDF format.

A Review of Consultations on Public Funding for Creativity and Culture

View Creative Scotland's report, which looks at a number of past consultations with the creative and cultural sectors in Scotland, in PDF format.

Funding Creativity - Research Review of International Funding Models

View this report, prepared for Creative Scotland by Jeanie Scott, Culture Radar, in PDF format.