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Monday, May 20, 2024

Iconic Heb Celt at Risk as Post 2024 Funding Lost

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Highlands and Islands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant has been asked to do the Government’s job for it as the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Angus Robertson washed his hands of Creative Scotland funding processes that could result in the loss if the iconic Hebridean Celtic Festival in the Hebrides.

Mrs Grant brought the situation to his attention in portfolio questions on Wednesday, by pointing out that the new funding policy of Creative Scotland was leaving unsuccessful applicants facing extinction with no alternative funding options.

She said:

“Creative Scotland’s current funding model providing three year funding has resulted in the Hebridean Celtic Festival, one of the most important events in my region, facing a catastrophic funding gap post 2024. 

“Combined with the removal of Local Authority funding this means that there is no prospect of any public funding until 2028 at the earliest.

“The Cabinet Secretary is aware that the loss of the festival would remove millions of pounds from a local economy that desperately needs it, so will he look at the funding model and review how Creative Scotland provides funding, and its processes and policies to make sure that we don’t lose assets such as the Heb Celt Festival?”

The Cabinet Secretary responded by suggesting he hear’s disproportionately from unsuccessful applicants and not enough from those “delighted” to receive funding but that he agreed with Mrs Grant that understanding needed to be gained so venues and organisations didn’t face a “cliff edge” of funding.

He then asked the Labour MSPs for any suggestions on how to resolve the situation.

Following the exchange Mrs Grant said:

“It is appalling that Scottish Government are overseeing changing processes without properly thinking them through.

“Creative Scotland has already implemented these funding processes; organisations are already toppling over the cliff edge, while smaller start ups are floundering because they have no transparency over how to get Creative Scotland’s approval which is often inexplicably ad hoc.

“By the time the Cabinet Secretary awaits the review, then takes the time to ponder what he’s been told we’re going to have lost hundreds of venues, events and activities which make Scotland special; which showcase it’s creativity and culture.

Mrs Grant continued:

“This is not a time to run out of ideas, throw up your hands and ask if anyone else has any ideas.

“It is the Cabinet Secretary’s job to protect our culture and help it thrive.

“If we lose the Heb Celt because he’s not reviewing new processes closely enough then the communities of the Western Isles and attendees from around the world are unlikely to forgive him.”

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