Arts crisis? What crisis?

Edd McCracken, Arts Correspondent

In: HeraldScotland, 7 Nov 2010

As head of Scotland’s most powerful arts organisation, Andrew Dixon could have been forgiven for surveying the cultural landscape last week and shaking his head in despair.

A dark cloud has descended over the arts in Scotland.

The heads of both Scottish Ballet and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Ashley Page and Simon Woods, announced they were leaving the highly successful companies. Scottish Opera revealed that 80% of its orchestra intend to leave in a contract dispute, with players looking for jobs as part-time cleaners and crematorium workers. The National Galleries of Scotland voiced fears they may have to charge for entry. Creative Scotland, Dixon’s own organisation, will discover the extent of its own budget cuts later this month.

But Dixon entertains no doomsayers. Quite the opposite, in fact. Speaking exclusively to the Sunday Herald, he revealed that far from Scotland’s cultural scene fraying at the seams, he believes the country is actually perfectly poised to benefit from the artistic turmoil in England. Amid the doom and gloom, Scotland’s arts scene suddenly now has the “competitive advantage” in the UK.

A key reason is the Arts Council England (ACE) revealing how it would deal with the 29% budget cut handed down from Westminster. Last week all 850 organisations in receipt of funding, from established behemoths such as the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, to tiny publishers in Cornwall, were told they must reapply. Many bodies will not survive. This follows the axing of the UK Film Council, the major screen industry quango.

Read the viewpoint here.



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