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Members in Scotland: Write to Your MSP Now in Support of Arts Funding

Call on the Scottish Government to deliver the £100m arts and culture funding pledged by the First Minister earlier this year.

Published: 14 December 2023 | 3:45 PM
Inside of the circular, Scottish Parliament interior debating chamber.
Let your MSP know why arts funding matters, and how their choices now will affect your future. Image credit: Shutterstock.

Earlier this year, First Minister Humza Yousaf pledged to double funding for arts and culture over the next five years to £100 million.

Now, Scotland’s draft budget for 2024-25 is scheduled to be announced on 19 December 2023.

It is crucial that the First Minister acts on his pledge, front loads the funding to support arts organisations at risk now, and works with trade unions to ensure that Fair Work principles are applied in arts and culture workplaces.

Add your voice to the call

Let your MSP know why arts funding matters, and how their choices now will affect your future.

Write to your MSP using the template letter below. Remember to include personal stories as they make a big difference.

You can find your MSP's name and email on the Scottish Government website.

Template letter to MSPs

Dear [MSP name goes here] MSP,

I am a constituent living at [your address goes here].

I am writing to stress the importance of properly funding the arts, and to ask you to ensure the government fulfils the First Minister’s pledge of £100m funding for the arts in the Budget for 2024-25.

In its briefing Trends in Funding for Culture, The Scottish Parliament information Centre set out the perfect storm facing arts and culture organisations and workers. Long-term funding pressures, increasing costs, slow recovery of audience figures following the pandemic are having a concerning impact on the sector.

[Use this space to talk about how this perfect storm is impacting you and your work. Do you have fewer opportunities now than you did before? Are you concerned for job opportunities in the future? This is important evidence to share to encourage your MSP to act]

The impact of this perfect storm on the orchestras of our National Performing Company orchestras is clear:

  • National Performing Companies funding has remained flat in cash terms since 2016-17, representing a 20% real terms cut over the past 10 years
  • Scotland has only one full time, employed orchestra
  • Musicians’ Union analysis has shown that Scottish Ballet has the lowest ballet orchestra rate in the UK, Scottish Opera the lowest opera orchestra rate, and RSNO the lowest tutti rate
  • Musicians are again facing below inflation pay offers in the face of an ongoing cost of living crisis.

The impact on musicians and artists working under Creative Scotland funding is also clear:

  • Creative Scotland has faced real terms funding cuts since 2018-19, exacerbated by the £6.6m in year cut reimposed in September
  • Creative Scotland are receiving far more applications post Covid, yet funding has not been adjusted to reflect that
  • Stage One of the Multi-Year Funding Programme has seen 361 organisations applying with an ask of £96m per year, against a current budget of £35m per year.

The perfect storm of long-term funding pressures, increasing costs and slow recovery post-pandemic restrictions is having specific impacts on musicians working with children and young people:

  • Over the last 20 years, funding for the Youth Music Initiative has reduced from £10m per annum to £9m
  • Whenever local authorities are faced with budget challenges, instrumental music tuition is under threat. This makes learning an instrument the preserve of those who can afford it
  • Musicians working in education are too often on precarious contracts or self-employed and fair pay is increasingly difficult for our members to achieve.

I join the Musicians’ Union in welcoming the commitment from the First Minister to increase arts funding, and call on the Scottish Government to:

  • Deliver on the First Minister’s £100m arts and culture funding pledge in the Budget for 2024-5
  • Frontload the £100m funding to save jobs and cultural institutions at risk now
  • Work with trade unions to ensure that Fair Work principles are applied in arts and culture workplaces.

Please urge the Scottish Government to act.

Yours sincerely,

[Your Name]

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