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Scotland Lobbying Update: The Need for Ongoing and Sustainable Investment

A brief update on recent lobbying activity in Scotland from MU Regional Organiser for Scotland & Northern Ireland Caroline Sewell, who has been discussing arts funding, instrumental music provision and the wellbeing economy amongst other issues.

Photo ofCaroline Sewell
By Caroline Sewell Published: 16 March 2023 | 10:48 AM
The Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh, standing out in the sunshine
The positive impact that engagement in the arts has for wellbeing is something well documented. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Following a period which has seen a significant number of in industrial issues including threats to instrumental music and arts funding shortage, I wanted to give you an update on some recent lobbying activity in Scotland, having recently attended the following meetings:

  • STUC, Creative Unions (MU, Equity, BECTU, Scottish Artists Union, Society of Scottish Playwrights, Society of Authors, Writers Guild for Great Britain), and Scottish Government
  • Cross Party Group on Music
  • SNP Trade Union Liaison Group

Ongoing and sustainable investment in the arts

At the meetings I talked about arts funding and raised the need for ongoing and sustainable investment at a time when individuals and organisations have not recovered from the pandemic and continue to be affected by the spiralling cost of living crisis. The Creative Scotland cuts were reversed but we are still in a pretty dire situation as the standstill funding still represents significant real terms cuts in the fact of inflation levels as they are.

I also raised the continuing threats to Instrumental Music Services, highlighting some of the concerning proposals from local authorities which planned to drastically reduce or cut Instrumental Music Services altogether.

Protecting the arts sector is a commitment to the Wellbeing Economy

One of my main arguments on both of these issues is to do with Scottish Government commitments to being a Wellbeing Economy.

Given the well documented positive impact on wellbeing which we know stems from engagement in the arts (and in particular music making) we cannot have that discussion without also talking about how we protect the sector and these vital services.

Wider issues highlighting the dire situation

At the meetings we also raised the proposed job cuts to the BBC Orchestras and Singers, which although doesn’t affect the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (SSO) currently, highlights the dire situation in the wider sector.

Fair work in the Creative Industries

The issue of Fair Work in the creative industries is a permanent fixture in our discussions with the Scottish Government who have made commitments to becoming a Fair Work Nation by 2025.

Alongside our fellow creative unions, the MU are working hard to ensure that these important principles of Effective Voice, Security, Respect, Opportunity are also embedded into the landscape of the creative industries – particularly where organisations are in receipt of public funding.

The MU will be moving a motion at the forthcoming STUC Annual General Congress which takes place in Dundee in April on this important matter.

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