Refreshed Strategy and Funding Framework

Strategic and Funding Review

Pre-pandemic, Creative Scotland carried out an extensive programme of internal and external engagement aimed at informing our future strategic priorities and funding framework.

Although much of this work was necessarily paused in 2020 and 2021 to focus on the development and delivery of £100million emergency funding to help address the impacts of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on Scotland’s culture sector, we have continued to progress elements of this work so that it could resume when the pandemic eases.

Whilst remaining sensitive to the ongoing impacts of Covid-19, our work on delivering the outcomes of the Strategic and Funding Review has resumed with a focus on supporting the future recovery and renewal of Scotland’s art and creative sector.

Funding Review and Future Funding Framework

Findings and forward thinking

In 2019/20, we examined existing research and consulted with hundreds of applicants and stakeholders, seeking people’s experiences and suggestions about future funding. We also looked at a historical overview of Creative Scotland’s funding decisions and commissioned research which looked at the approach of other funders around the world.

Culture Radar’s ‘Funding Creativity’ report (commissioned to support the Funding Review process) offers “...the truth is there is no ‘right’ funding model, and no model that would easily translate from one nation or national portfolio to another in its entirety.” 

However, despite this, it is clear that most organisations and people want to develop creative and cultural activity with the benefit of sustained long-term investment.

It is also true that demand continues to outstrip the funds available - and we anticipate that that will remain the case moving forward.

Therefore, we will seek to broaden the opportunities available for art and creativity through our work with national and local partners, while also building the case for the success of the sector by ensuring our funding aligns with our statutory and strategic aims, and national priorities.

The main differences in our future funding approach

a. A broader base of organisations receiving funding regularly

We have consistently heard from those with whom we work that, in order to enable creative people, communities, places and activity to thrive, most organisations want stable, regular funding to do what they do.

Responding to this, we will better reflect the full range of creative organisations which need support on a regular basis.

We will continue to offer options for multi-year funding but seek to move away from organisations being considered as ‘Regular’ or ‘Open’ funded towards a more tailored approach to providing support, based on the specific context and individual needs of organisations.

In recent years, there has been a greater number of organisations and individuals regularly receiving funding support which are not part of the RFO network. Moving forward, we will work with organisations according to their needs and circumstances, not according to the funding scheme that has provided their grant.

We will work towards establishing relationships with a broader range of organisations which can work with us to deliver shared objectives and to ensure that they can operate with stable, regular funding.

b. Strengthening relationships

Through the feedback we received during the Funding Review process, there is a clear desire for Creative Scotland to build stronger relationships and take a partnership approach to developing arts and creativity.

We will place a greater emphasis on managing relationships with creative organisations and individuals. Creative Scotland’s expectations in terms of applications and monitoring will also be scaled according to investment. We are already building the tools to support this shift and beginning the process of examining what resources are needed to make this work.

c. Improved decision-making processes linked to priorities

There has also been a need expressed for us to approach assessment and decision-making in a less generic way, taking into account the different circumstances of those we support.

Given the level of resourcing available, most funding will still need to be considered on a competitive basis as demand for funds is expected to continue to significantly exceed funding levels.

We have now established strategic priorities which frames our work into the future and provides a basis for supporting our strategy and our specific legal duties around equality and addressing climate change, against which all funding will be considered. Ultimately, success in achieving significant clear public benefit will make the case against which requests for increased support will be measured.

d. Support for individual artists

In response to the widely expressed desire for Creative Scotland to directly support the development of artists and individual creative practitioners, we have established an easy access grants programme for individual creative development.

This will not be the only route for individuals to access support but will be the one that is focused solely on their development. The refreshed Open Fund For Individuals went live in August 2021.

e. Simpler and more transparent processes

We are introducing a new Funding Management System which will mean a streamlined online process for applicants. This system is already being developed in stages and many people will have experienced it in use through recent emergency funds.

In the longer term we are working towards this system supporting a live public account of all funding provided through to the point of project reporting. This will provide the basis for much greater transparency and consistency in our funding processes, which, when aligned with our clear strategic priorities, will support future ambitions.

How the changes will be introduced

Feedback from the Review was clear that the introduction of any changes should be made in a managed way to enable organisations to adapt. Therefore, all changes will take place through a phased process and be managed in a considered manner to support post-pandemic future recovery and renewal across the sector.

It is clearly not practical or appropriate to seek to implement this approach in its entirety within 2021/22 and so we will be treating 2022/23 as a transition year prior to a new system being implemented from 2023/24 onwards.

Subject to budget approval and delivery plans, we will plan to maintain commitments to organisations in receipt of regular funding in 2022/23 at a level consistent with their current average annual award.

We will share further information at key times in the coming months.

Our latest updates

Read our October 2021 Future Funding update

Read our February 2022 Future Funding update


  • We'll be re-engaging with the sector and other partners to share the refreshed Strategy, the future funding framework and taking the opportunity to discuss the development of these new ways of working. We are planning a number of sessions to provide further insight to the refreshed fund. These sessions will take place in Summer - dates to follow.
  • In August 2021 our Open Fund for Individuals moved to an online application process. Maintaining its core purpose and criteria, the application process has been simplified, staged and scaled to the level of funds being applied for.
  • In October, we provided further details of the transition year 2022-23. We gave a further update in February. We will return our focus to the development of the Future Funding Framework in the Spring and provide a further update then.
  • We will continue developing plans for implementation through Summer 2022 and aim to be in a position to begin introducing the new approach to multi-year funding from Autumn 2022.  We will continue to work on the revised Open Fund for Organisations and will provide further details on when that that will launch, in our next update also.
  • Organisations currently in receipt of Regular Funding will continue to be supported (subject to available budget) to help enable that transition, to the end of March 2024 at a minimum.
  • In the meantime, funding remains available through the continuation of a selection of our existing funding programmes. Details can be found on our Funding page.

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