Creative Scotland 1st public meeting at the Lyceum


So the unveiling of Creative Scotland started in earnest in the public forum today. The gathering at the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh was part of an effort by the Scottish Government to boost confidence in Creative Scotland. Mike Russell MSP (SNP) led the charge and stood guilty of getting the ball rolling to create an agency (or limited company - yet to be confirmed) that supports the artist or creator, providing access, clarity, promotion and a supporting role.

Mike talked eloquently about the vision and stating the reason for quaterly meetings to gain assistance from the creative community a wise move for many reasons, not least to gain favour, publicity but also transparency. He mentioned that parliamentary debates were expected on the performance of Scotland's national arts companies, which are directly funded by the Scottish Government.

This autumn he will prepare a report for Holyrood on Scottish Opera, the National Theatre of Scotland, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Scottish Ballet.

"Parliament will get a chance to see what the national companies are doing," he said. One issue will be the level of leadership the national companies show in their fields.

Asked whether he would resign if the Public Services Reform Bill failed next year, Mr Russell joked: "I think I'd have to go." He added: "The expectation is that the Creative Scotland part of this bill and the whole bill will be passed."

Ewan Brown* then took to the podium, Ewan is heading up Creative Scotland in this transitional phase; he was very keen to point out that it is not a merger of the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen but an entirely new body with a new culture that both existing institutions will fit into.

A number of funds were announced to help, assist and develop creative start-ups, existing organisations and individuals, £5 million was the additional pot which although not mentioned is also receiving a further £3 million from Channel 4ip for the digital fund.

So the big question how do you get access to the cash... right now go to Business Gateway, the organisation that used to be Scottish Enterprise for start-ups has now almost entirely been taken over by COSLA, who it's fair to say deeply impressed Ewan on a recent visit.

Richard Holloway (the ex-Bishop turned Creative Lethario) is currently heading up both Scottish Arts Council and Screen Scotland in an attempt to make the transition from one organisation into another - he made a deeply passionate and intelligent response to questions raised about the transfer.

There were many references to online "Fora" or in real people speak Forums that will allow everyone in the Scottish Creative industries to post and discuss their new agency. Apparently something will be available in the Autumn... although to be fair Ewan and Richard looked at each other in a sort of shoulder shrug so my guess is possibly when the process is close to finishing. I guess we watch this space.


* 67 Years Old
Ewan Brown CBE FRSE, Joined the board in 1999 and was chairman of Lloyds TSB Scotland until May 2008. Joined Noble Grossart in 1969 and was an executive director of that company until December 2003. A non-executive director of Noble Grossart and Stagecoach Group, chairman of Creative Scotland 2009, senior governor of the Court of the University of St Andrews and vice chairman of the Edinburgh International Festival. A former chairman of tie and non-executive director of John Wood Group. Ewan Brown, CBE FRSE, retiring at the annual general meeting in 2009.

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