Last week in the Scottish Parliament I questioned the Culture Secretary in Holyrood on funding for arts in Aberdeen and the North-east after figures showed the area far behind other parts of Scotland in terms of financial support from Creative Scotland.
Independent analysis carried out by members of the arts community in the North-east shows that per capita spend from Creative Scotland, the body responsible for distributing arts and creative funding from the Scottish Government, in Aberdeen was under £10 whereas in both Edinburgh and Glasgow it was over £50 per capita.
This is clearly unfair for the North-east and shows a clear Scottish Government focus on the central belt which needs addressing urgently.
What was disappointing was that the Minister did not appear to appreciate the disparity in funding for the arts, which affects Aberdeen and the North-east. This is something which I called on Scottish Ministers as well as Creative Scotland to urgently address.
We all want to make Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire an even more attractive place to visit and live in, and investing in the arts is a great way to do this.
There are many great arts events in the North-east, for example the ‘sound festival’ which is Scotland’s festival of new music, our theatres, our country halls, our youth festival, and many more projects which if given the appropriate support can flourish. There is no excuse not to invest in the arts in our part of Scotland especially when there are such large amounts being spent in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The North-east is a business powerhouse but it could be both an arts destination and a hub for creativity for the region too.
It is clear that the old Central Belt bias is alive and well and the SNP Government needs to believe in Aberdeen and the Shire as an arts hub as much as the creative community here too.
I hope Ministers will address the unfairness in funding for the arts but, like our health service and our councils, I fear that it will continue.
If they don’t, it is the arts community in the North-east who will suffer.