DELIVER ART! Public Policies and the Arts in Rural Areas The Argyll and Bute Arts Conference Saturday October 6 2001 Corran Halls, Oban Organised by the Argyll and Bute Arts Action Group and HI Arts Supported by Argyll and Bute Council, Argyll and the Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Arts Council, and Highlands and islands Enterprise
REPORT Introduction. The ‘Deliver Art’ Conference was conceived as a unique attempt to look at how arts policies are formed by politicians and officials at national and local level, how these policies are mediated by various agencies and interpreted and applied by administrators, and how finally they impact on the work of artists and their audiences particularly in rural areas such as Argyll and Bute, the Highlands and the Islands. It was also intended to be the first of an annual series of such regional conferences to be organised by HI Arts in association with a local partner. The event was attended by a wide range of people concerned with the arts including several senior figures in politics and the arts as well as many practising artists concerned to find out how their situations were perceived by the ‘authorities’ and how they could influence those who made the policies and the decisions. To judge by the feedback at the time, and since, the event was certainly very successful. Many new contacts were established and hopefully new thinking stimulated. As the initiator of the event, ABAAG would very much like to see more such gatherings of the different layers and structures within the arts scene in Scotland but especially in the context of the concerns of rural and remote areas which inevitably feel that they are comparatively less well off than their Central Belt counterparts but face much greater logistical and other problems. ----------------------------------
Note: Most of this report was prepared by Catherine McDonald. It covers only the first half of the event in detail, of which it is in effect an edited transcript. The second part of the day was to be written up by her husband Donald Gillies who very sadly died suddenly on 25 November 2001. There is therefore only a brief synopsis of the latter half of the conference. ------------------------------------The DELIVER ART! conference was opened by Councillor Stan Latimer, Argyll and Bute Council (West Helensburgh and Rhu), who welcomed delegates, and in particular Mr Finn Andersen, Secretary General of the Danish Cultural Institute. Cllr Latimer then introduced Mr James Boyle, Chair of the Scottish Arts Council, and invited him to take the conference chair. James Boyle welcomed delegates. He said that the purpose of the DELIVER ART! Conference was to explore how arts strategies are delivered at national and regional levels. This was the fourth conference in Argyll and Bute, and had originated in 1995 following the Argyll and Bute Arts Audit. Session 1. Key-note Speaker: FINN ANDERSEN, Secretary General, Danish Cultural Institute. Finn Andersen thanked the chair of the conference for the opportunity to speak at the conference, and spoke warmly of the twelve and a half years he had spent in Edinburgh running the Danish Cultural Institute. He described it as a time when Scottish culture was developing strongly with a great awareness of identity, which he saw as an important factor in the referendum which led to devolution. He saw Scotland and Denmark as neighbours, and similar in both size and population â€“ but with essential differences, and believed they had a lot to be learned from each other. He chose for his talk to discuss the case study of Holstebro in West Jutland, but before describing its development, he gave some detail on the current funding sources in Denmark. Funding comes from 3 main sources: 2
The State (ministry of culture), The Regions, and Local Councils. The total funding of arts and culture amounts to £1billion annually, which Mr Andersen suggested might seem a huge amount compared to Scotland, but in fact cultural institutions and artists are in as dire straits as they are in Scotland. The money is never enough, and people do complain. He said the state accounted for 40% of the total budget, with the municipalities carrying 57%. The state is almost the sole provider of the creative arts and archives. The municipalities have almost total responsibility for libraries, and the Regions handle music and theatre. Over 20 to 30 years there has been a tendency to devolve responsibility to local and regional level, and over the past 5 years there have been cultural experiments which have proved controversial: some believe the state is devolving too much, while others think one region is being favoured at the expense of another. He described some of the basic principles that drive Danish Cultural Policy: Freedom of expression
Democracy of culture Quality – incorporating debate on what that is, and how to assess it Decentralisation Mr Anderson introduced the case study – Between Identity and Image: Holstebro as a Model for Cultural Policy Note: The full text of the case-study is in Appendix A at the end of this report. In synopsis, the case-study charts the progress of a small provincial town which decided to promote itself by adopting an adventurous cultural policy which included acquiring an internationally significant art work. The impact on the local economy (and self confidence) was such that the population of the town expanded and from being ‘the most boring town in Denmark’ it became fashionable, famous and successful. However, a change in the town’s political administration together with a number other local, national and international factors led to a decline in the status of culture in the town and a more uncertain future. In conclusion, Mr Anderson said ... 3
Cultural policy will have to find a balance between local and global levels. In finding identity, culture has to observe differences, but at the same time unite individuals, groups and nationalities. Local cultural policy must respect diversity of cultures, but also bring forward alternatives. The main challenge for the town is to find its place in relation to the local community and also the global world structure. Here Holstebro can again serve as a new model. ---------------James Boyle thanked Finn Andersen, and told delegates that balances had to be achieved between national and international factors. He referred to the events in America on September 11th, and said that following the attacks, confidence drained away overnight. He said confidence is the under-pinning of the economy and the arts. To take part in the arts is to build confidence in person, self and community. The Arts is a benign area of existence where this can be achieved. He spoke of the arts world having managed to get an attitude in society which is more embracing of arts – for example, public statuary used to be 12 foot high figures on a plinth; now the most famous statue in Glasgow is the fire fighter which is worn smooth through being touched. There was also Desperate Dan in Dundee. This spoke of an attitude not of veneration, but of participation. He said the arts are about coming in and participating, and at the back of this is people’s confidence in themselves. James Boyle told the conference that the Scottish Arts Council was in the middle of a supporting a great deal of work for children; he said “if the arts doesn’t begin with weans it doesn’t begin anywhere”. In response to comments by Finn Andersen that Denmark spends £1 billion annually on the arts, James Boyle said that in Scotland local authorities spend £¾ billion on arts and sports, and that once libraries, academies and similar were added in, it would reach £1 billion. He said Scotland was putting in the investment. In introducing the first panel session of the conference, James Boyle reminded delegates that the DELIVER ART! conference was about how to knit national, regional and individual requirements. Session 2. Developing Arts Policies: the Role of the Scottish Parliament 4
Panel session with MSPs: Cathy Peattie (Labour), Mike Russell (SNP), Jamie McGrigor (Conservative). Q: Alison Duncan - told panel members she had enjoyed how the arts had contributed to the opening of the Scottish Parliament, and asked why they didn’t do it each year on the re-opening of the Parliament. She suggested a 5 – 10 year programme at which they could display the arts, both traditional and through big bands like Texas. She said she had written to personnel in the Parliament suggesting this at the time, but nothing was done, even though replies were positive. Cathy Peattie - agreed entirely. She said that of all things the opening of the Parliament was significant. The whole day had been ‘different’ with a great diversity of music. However, she noted that it was against standing orders to sing in the Parliament! She did not want to go down the English route with regard to their opening of Parliament. Mike Russell - drew the distinction between the Scottish Government that carries out actions, and the role of the Scottish Parliament to scrutinise and oppose. He said there was a committee system at which to institute enquiries and ask awkward questions – for example over Scottish Ballet, and into cultural tourism. However, he said the Parliament does have the ability to organise things itself, and he would be happy to see such an opening. He said they were spending substantial public money on a new building which could be and should be a showcase of Scottish arts and design, where artistic and cultural things can happen. He said that he, and others , had wanted to stage the Thrie Estates when the new chamber opened, but had been turned down twice. Jamie McGrigor - said the Parliament opening was a wonderfully Scottish day, and was delivered with the ‘minimum of bossiness’, with the best of Scotland there to see. Having seen this question in advance of the conference, he had written to the Presiding Officer the previous day, asking if it could be taken forward. He agreed with Mike Russell that the new building could be used to promote all kinds of Scottish arts. Q: Caroline Hewat (TMSA) – asked the panel how they intended to encourage Scottish music and musicians. 5
Mike Russell - said the Scottish Parliament can’t do it in itself, it had to be an executive government strategy. He said additional resources had gone into Scottish music from the Scottish Arts Council, but it was not enough, and they should do more to provide opportunities. He noted that the playlist on Radio Scotland is narrowing and that it may have fallen to an unacceptable level. He had met with Maggie Cunningham (Controller, Radio Scotland) to discuss the issue, but she had told him that they were playing as much as there was. Mike Russell was not convinced, and thinks more Scottish music should be played. He stressed that in his view the important approach with regard to Scottish music was simply to ‘do it’; young people will have to hustle for opportunities – they can be helped, but at the end of the day they have to just do it. Jamie McGrigor - saw traditional music as a key to maintaining rural areas, and cited support for Gaelic as important. With regard to modern/rock music, he saw the £100,000 given by the Scottish Arts Council as a ‘sop’, as they gave £1.9 million to Scottish Opera. He favoured bringing more music teaching into local schools to enable those with talent to move on. He stressed that this was a function of the Scottish Executive rather than the Scottish Parliament. Cathy Peattie – said that there was a great deal of work going on already, with a cross-party group on traditional arts, and a cross-party group on contemporary arts. She said Scottish music on the BBC was being scrutinised, as was the idea of ‘Scottish Champions’ as part of the whole issue of looking at what was happening in Scotland. She said she had recently been to the School of Excellence in Plockton, where ordinary school work is combined with intensive music tuition, as well as performance, recording, marketing and other skills. She saw the Scottish Executive’s commitment to schools of excellence as a good starting point. She also believed good work was happening in local authorities. Q. Caroline Hewat - wanted to see tax laws be created for Scottish musicians, as exists in Ireland, and that lessons could be learnt from Canada. She also stressed that people are out there ‘doing it’ already. She believed that all types of music – rock, folk, Scottish or others – should be included. She told the panel that every child in Scotland should have access to free tuition in traditional music.
Nick Holmes (delegate) – expressed the view that arts strategies are meaningless if one cannot see their delivery, and thought it should be a legislative requirement of all public buildings to include provision for art. Jamie McGrigor – liked the idea in principle, but disliked the option of legislation and the ‘heavy state’. He favoured this as policy, rather than legislation, but overall approved the notion of getting paintings out of storage and onto walls. Cathy Peattie - recalled awful paintings, and said the art must be relevant to the people using the building – it was not just about ‘ great art’. Mike Russell – said a whole variety of factors could contribute, and that the traditional approach could play a part, as with the statues on the Italian Café in Glasgow, which told a wonderful story. The developers had wanted the statuary, but had run out of money and the sculptor had taken the project to completion himself. Mike Russell wanted to see a percentage of the Scottish Parliament building to be allocated to art; to build it in rather than just designing a shell. He was happy to accept legislature, as arts policy was entirely dependent on backing from the people who carry out the work. He saw better buildings as giving a better quality of life. James Boyle (Chair) – said there was a tension between spending too much on the new Parliament building, and not having spent enough for it to last. Mike Russell – was against the building of the Scottish Parliament, but said he would continue to argue that it is wrong not to establish a budget which ensures it contains creative and interesting aspects. Cathy Peattie – thought the Scottish Parliament building was important, but believed it should have been sited in Stirling. She was less concerned about what should go in it. Her principal concern was that people should feel free to visit it, should feel proud of it, and should have a sense of ownership. James Boyle (Chair) – was committed to the new building, but queried why there should be a debate over the cost, in contrast to the approach in France. Jamie McGrigor – said he didn’t vote for the new parliament building. He said that £13 million was being spent on landscaping alone, and that a great deal of the artistic input had been dedicated to space, acoustics and environmentally friendly features. 7
James Boyle (Chair) – was encouraged that the new parliament was “still cheek by jowl” with the “granny flats” in Edinburgh. Finn Andersen (secretary general, Danish Cultural Institute) – spoke of good and bad examples in Denmark, and said it was important that artists and architects work together from the beginning. He said there were lessons to be learnt from doing it sensitively. Delegate – was concerned that public places shouldn’t become private places. He saw the Scottish Arts Council as taking too close a position with people who are within the arts scene in Scotland, and wanted to see the SAC talking to more local planners and councils, and to a wider circle of artists. Jim Tough (SAC) – thought a capital programme could definitely encourage the provision of art in public places, and that the “door was open” to working with local authorities and providers. Barclay Price (Arts and Business Scotland) – said the idea of planning buildings and artistic content together already happens on an individual basis. He though legislation could work better, but he didn’t want to see a situation which resulted in art for arts sake. Delegate – gave Dubai as an example of fine buildings being combined with good art. Delegate – raised the issue of community arts and budgets. She said that in recent experience of trying to carry out an arts project, she came up against the problem of local concern that the money could have been used for other things. She said that there should be more education to raise understanding of arts budgets. Jamie McGrigor – agreed that there should be more education about grants for arts projects to avoid misunderstandings, and fully supported provision for support of the arts – especially in the islands. Cathy Peattie – said she had worked in community arts, and that sometimes it wasn’t valued highly enough. She saw it as a good growth area for the arts, but she was concerned that when communities submitted applications which failed, it sometimes stemmed from a lack of understanding of their own community. 8
Mike Russell – said it as not just about education, but saw it as a reflection of the place of the arts in society. He believed that culture could bring politics and economics together, and wanted to see a situation where society viewed politics, economics and culture as indivisible and equally valid, rather than accept the “old division” which saw culture as “off to the side”. He pointed out that there had been no debate on it at the election. Q. Lilian Ross (Cairngorm Connections) – asked whether there should be tax breaks and subsidies for artists as operates in Ireland. Jamie McGrigor – thought there should be. He said a number of artists in Ireland earned well, and that the system both attracted artists and ensured the art world was more buoyant. He said it was a question of persuading the UK government. Cathy Peattie – was also in favour. Mike Russell – said it was an excellent issue, and was part of the policy of the SNP, but not exactly the same as the Irish system. He thought it was particularly suitable for a small country, and could create a specialism. James Boyle (chair) – recalled that U2 were able to thrive in Ireland because they were able to negotiate tax. Mike Russell– cited Ballykissangel as a production which had been able to take advantage of tax breaks for the film industry, a system which had encouraged film-makers to come into the country. Finn Andersen– in response to a question from James Boyle about Denmark’s position, said that they were “very egalitarian” and paid high taxes and VAT. Delegate - spoke as an Irish visual artist, and said it made a difference living under a government policy that was almost tax free. She said poverty was a common factor among artists, and that few earned more than £10,000 to £20,000 a year. She said that if people wanted to encourage artists to live and flourish, it was sensible to have an appropriate tax system. James Boyle (chair) – said that the SAC had consulted with writers earning less than £5000 a year up to seven figure earners, and that reconciling the tax question was very difficult. 9
Q. Mike Rowell – The recent situation surrounding Scottish Ballet has thrown up anomalies in how art and funds are delivered. Scottish Ballet announced they were changing their repertoire to become a contemporary dance company: the SAC gave their approval, but MSPs at the Scottish Parliament held back and had an enquiry. What does this show in the relationship between the SAC, national companies and the Scottish Executive? Mike Russell – was on the enquiry team looking at Scottish Ballet. He was in favour of transferring responsibility for the national companies away from the SAC, and ending what he described as the “fiction of arm’s length funding”. He saw it as distorting the whole question of arts funding in Scotland, and wanted to see the arts funded directly by the Scottish Executive. Cathy Peattie – disagreed with Mike Russell, and favoured the role of SAC. She didn’t like the idea of directly funded national companies, which she felt could lay the situation open to the minister in charge favouring his own preference – ballet, opera etc. Jamie McGrigor– said the Scottish Ballet changes had given rise to concern that Scotland wouldn’t be able to stage a full length ballet. He believed they should be able to do both – preserve Scottish Ballet and make room for contemporary. David Bruce (Chair of the Argyll and Bute Arts Action Group) – pointed out that matters had improved, in that at least the government and the SAC are both in Edinburgh, whereas it used to be the government in London and the SAC in Edinburgh. Mike Russell (chair) – said the arm’s length principle was developed post-war. He believed there were grounds for governments not being so involved in arts funding, and artists being more involved. However, the reality at the moment is that national companies are, in effect, directly funded. He thought the arts strategy to date had been “a total failure”, and that a new exciting and invigorating policy was needed. He felt culture had been the most “pedestrian area” of the Scottish Parliament to date. Cathy Peattie– said there needed to be a wider debate on culture, and wanted the minister responsible for culture to have a stronger role. On policy, she said that what they had set out to do needed to be clearer. 10
Jamie McGrigor– believed that an open and free society was needed to promote culture, not the “dead hand of the state”. Session 3 Delivering the Arts: the role of Local Government Panel session with Councillors: Stan Latimer (Argyll and Bute: Helensburgh); David Webster (Argyll and Bute: Oban); Jim Brennan (Fife); David Alston (Highland). Cllr David Webster. As the Chairman of the Lorn and the Isles Committee he thanked the Scottish Arts Council for their financial input into the refurbishment of the Corran Halls, and told the conference that Argyll and Bute was going to make the arts work. He extolled the value of traditional music in Scotland, and spoke of a commitment to the culture of the Highlands and Islands. He pointed up the small budget for the arts in Argyll and Bute, and said central funding for the arts in the area was a clear aim. Cllr Jim Brennan Councillor Brennan told the conference that he came from a small mining village in Fife. The arts provision in the village was “brilliant”, and was developed after the war on the back of the ‘miner’s penny’, which funded the services – poetry societies, drama and music. He said it was rich, diverse and multicultural: the arts were seen as relevant, and took their place alongside politics. He said the main recreation was drinking, and the arts brought a balance, which was recognised by the miners who all paid their dues. The provision more or less collapsed when the pits closed, but Fife Regional Council was established bringing a strategic overview, and starting ‘Arts in Fife’ with limited resources but a great deal of commitment. It continued for about 50 years, and the coming of the Scottish Parliament brought about big changes. Arts were out on the back burner, and they entered a big consultation process on the arts in Fife linked with the regeneration of areas. Councillor Brennan said that there was not much money in the arts, but they could access money for regeneration, and it was important to continue to include the arts in the forefront of planning. He made it clear that he believed that the links were not made enough, and that in discussions on culture and rural affairs at the Labour Party Conference no-one had made the connection. He saw culture as part of 11
social inclusion, and that the arts should be at the heart of it, and influencing every decision. Cllr Dr David Alston He recalled the death of a young man in Cromarty a few years ago, and how he was piped to the cemetery with the “Lament for the Children”, played not in a concert hall, but in raw emotion. He saw the occasion as representing a great depth of culture. Councillor Alston said there were a great many things going on in communities which were at the heart of the arts: for example, Alex John Williamson, a traveller, telling traditional travellers’ stories – tapping into a tradition, performing in a small community, and being included (travellers having traditionally been outcasts). He believed that culture has been and still is neglected, not least in our own ethnic community, although reconciliation was now going on as part of the need for inclusiveness. He said artistic policies are about what sort of communities we want. Strategies are needed, as is a network of local arts officers as points of contact. Cllr Stan Latimer Councillor Latimer told the conference that Argyll and Bute Council will continue to support the arts. He said the county had a wealth of talented people, and the council would support them as much as they could. He was disappointed that nothing had been said about rural culture at a recent meeting of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, but that a Rural and Islands Forum had been launched in Orkney principally to promote Physical Education in schools – however, there was a plan to add culture to the agenda. The session was opened for discussion. Delegate – raised the problems surrounding delivery of the arts in his native Roseneath, which he said was remote in terms of Argyll, and had seen no new development in years. He suggested Argyll and Bute Council had “washed their hands of artistic and cultural development” in Roseneath, and said the area was devoid of places specifically for the arts – particularly visual and music. He asked how Argyll and Bute Council intend to fill the gap?
Cllr Stan Latimer (panel) – said that the Cove Hall did need to be regenerated, and promised to make enquiries as to why it had slackened off in that area. John Jacobs (delegate) – said there had been great co-operation from Argyll and Bute Council in the beginning, but that it had shrunk away. He thought Argyll and Bute might be interested in supporting the arts, but they didn’t have the budget, which meant people were struggling to do things without the means. He asked what the Rural and Islands Forum would want to achieve? Cllr Stan Latimer (panel) –said they would have a better chance to go forward as a group of six areas than as one. Lillian Ross (Cairngorm Connections) - said David Webster had referred to start-up cash: while she agreed that projects should be started, the biggest problem was sustainability, which could lead to a lot of work going to waste. She also referred to Jim Brennan’s discussion on regeneration which she said had contained some good points, but that it all still needed support for sustainability. Alison Duncan (delegate) – raised an issue from a previous ABAAG conference: she said there had been a decision try and take forward a plan to bring a fiddler-in-residence to Argyll and Bute, following recommendations in a discussion group at the conference. She said Councillors Latimer and Webster had been present, but nothing had subsequently happened. Cllrs Latimer and Webster – had no recollection of the recommendation. James Boyle (chair) – Said that regeneration was not necessarily all about starting up; many places had things going already and it was a question of keeping things going – and starting as well if required. He agreed that the arts had a pertinent and leading role to play as part of the overall environment. He said it was about making arts central. On resourcing the arts, he said there was not a lot of money in local authorities, and that they were not keeping pace, but there was recognition coming that there should be a holistic approach. He said there was a lot of money for education, but it was now being recognised that children couldn’t come home to “damp houses and no facilities”. He said there was a need to work as partnerships and forge purposeful 13
relationships. He said “the arts without chances are anodyne”; there was a need to take chances, and for there to be the resources for that. Maura Cairns (delegate) – described her position as a mother of two young children in Campbeltown looking for clubs to attend. She had discovered one club involving arts for children, but was unhappy about the lack of an arts facility in the town. She saw it as a necessary provision to raise confidence in children. She said Campbeltown was remote, and that artists going into Argyll generally stop at Ardrishaig, making it necessary to take the children outside the peninsula. She described it as a very deprived area, with many of the population without transport to travel outwith the area. She said that without provision, children in Campbeltown would never know the arts. She asked the panel how they could provide this, and what parents could do to make a difference? Cllr Dr David Alston (panel) – said rural areas always depended on voluntary input, but professional input was also needed. He said many Highland areas were now reaching crisis point, and there was a need to look nationally at what kind of infrastructure could be sustained. At local level he saw the need for arts officers and budgets. Jim Tough (SAC) – said partnerships were crucial, and that relatively little capital investment was needed. He cited An Tobar and Taigh Chearsabhagh as excellent examples – adding that buildings weren’t essential, they were a start. His advice to Maura Cairns from Campbeltown was they needed to start with enthusiasm and embryonic activities; such as after school clubs, making use of the SAC’s Access and Participation Scheme. Cllr Jim Brennan (panel) – said arts in very rural and fragile areas was a very difficult situation, and that it took 16 years of investment in Fife through a meaningful, generous and long term grants programme for their rural and fragile areas. Delegate (Lorn Arts and Crafts Association) – regretted that arts such as her work of embroidery wasn’t taught in schools any more. Cllr Stan Latimer (panel) – agreed that it was important to start with children, particularly in primary school. Cllr Dr David Alston (panel) – said the demands of the curriculum had put a straitjacket on what can be done in school – even in pre-school. 14
Cllr Stan Latimer (panel) – gave the example of how money was raised to teach some children how to swim in the West of Scotland, but then lost the opportunity because head teachers were unable to get it into the curriculum. Vanessa Morris (Ayrshire and Arran Craft Development Project) – suggested a survey of the SAC and the local enterprise company regarding support for the craft sector, and economic input. She drew attention to the members chosen for the conference panel: she said there were council representatives, but where were the people from the audience? She identified a need for a national debate, including everyone possible on the same playing field. Alison Gaukroger (Lochaber Music School) – echoed the sustainability argument. She said the Lochaber Music School had received a fairly major lottery grant, but now find it very difficult to get core funding for sustainability. Highland Council had been unable to help, and while SAC might be able to address the problem, she wished to draw attention to this problem. Cllr Dr David Alston (panel) – said it was a problem right across the voluntary sector. Cllr Jim Brennan (panel) – said there should be a debate about resources, and that community art and rural areas are “sorely done down”, and that all money now came from the Lottery. He suspected that opera and ballet fans did not buy lottery tickets, and that the main buyers were “punters”. However, he said that the distribution of lottery money was mostly to high arts projects. He said there should be a debate on the imbalance of the distribution of resources. He suggested that MSP’s become “precious” when asked to discuss it, and accuse people of “whinging”. James Boyle (chair) – agreed that lottery ticket buyers are a “skewed sample”, and said it was the same with Children in Need – most of the money came from the poorest areas. He said it was important to get the distribution right. Jim Tough (SAC) – said the issue was at the top of the agenda, and that there was an ongoing debate over how to get new people into the arts. He said the SAC got funds from the government and lottery, and they were 15
dealing with delivery as a matter of priority. He thought the “cut of the cake” was shifting. Anita Hurding (Skye and Lochalsh Young Music Makers) – said that like Lochaber Music School, they were coming to the end of 3 years funding, and they needed to do bigger and better things in order to go on. She referred to James Boyle’s discussion on risk taking, and suggested that their school now knew what it was doing and that the risk was not so high. She asked whether councils could come into play? She said that Skye and Lochalsh was a microcosm of the nation: everything goes to Portree in the centre, and then funders say they are doing it for Skye and Lochalsh – but they have 20 children living 80 miles from Portree. She added that their project was never going to be self-sustaining. Sue Clayton (SECNAD) – said there was a lack of knowledge within the local authority over how to contact trained professionals who deal with complex needs. She personally found there was a lot of ignorance about her own work and the service she provided, and asked the council to produce a register of skills and professionals. Cllr Stan Latimer (panel) – said it had been valuable to hear of the models in Denmark, but that it came down to budgets, and the need for MSP’s to give more to local authorities. He said there wasn’t the budget for it in the local authority at present. Cllr David Webster (panel) – agreed. He said the major problem in Argyll and Bute was to look after the islands, and that they do not receive Special Islands Needs Allowance – if they received it, they could do something for the arts. He said being so “strapped for cash” was a big problem, and that they only receive £20,000 for Lorn and Isles for one year. He said they needed more funding for the arts, but that unless the Scottish Parliament take cognisance of the importance of the local authority and give more money, they will not be able to do it. Cllr Jim Brennan (panel) – referring back to the start of the parliament, he said that neither Donald Dewar nor Rhona Brankin had made one mention of local authorities. He said local authorities were not “Neanderthal nut crackers”, and they had to establish partnerships. He said councils were nothing if not pragmatic, and would be able to support and take risks.
Lillian Ross (Cairngorm Connections) – knew of Arts and Business, but said there were no government initiatives to encourage corporates to sponsor the arts in a prolific way. Barclay Price (Arts and Business Scotland) – said he had been involved in a meeting yesterday where businesses were looking to deliver corporate objectives within the arts. He said the arts were not just coming for money “for art’s sake”, but that each delivered something to the other. He said they were looking at working partnerships on the American model. He said the corporate message was – we must make communities stronger in Scotland, and businesses must play their part in that. Alison Duncan (delegate) – asked what about areas that don’t have industries and groups with the drive to take it forward? Can these areas be targeted? Could the council or the SAC look at it? James Boyle (chair) – said they did need to do that, and needed to ensure that lottery money went out, and need to see who isn’t asking. Delegate (Rosneath and Helensburgh) – said it was a matter of organising what was already there. He suggested the local authority take the lead, and with a small amount of money get something going now. He said this should happen while the overall debate went on, rather than waiting for the outcome. BREAK FOR LUNCH Session 3 Keynote Speech. Jim Tough, Head of Strategic Development, Scottish Arts Council. ‘The Scottish Arts Council and Strategic Development’. Jim Tough reminded the conference of the pivotal role of the Scottish Arts Council, how its function is to champion and sustain the arts in Scotland, how it seeks to celebrate and encourage excellence and innovation in the arts. The quality of life for the population as a whole can be improved through the arts, strengthening communities’ self confidence and awareness.
For SAC to provide leadership of the arts in Scotland it must be responsive to the needs of the arts and society, must be open and accountable and must encourage investment in the arts and, importantly, it must develop links with education. He described SAC’s Development Strategy, how the Strategy Development Group was structured in four divisions dealing respectively with Education and Life-long Learning; Area Development; Capital and Audience Development and Advancement and how each pursues its objectives. The factors influencing development policy are both external – social, technological, economic and practical – and internal to SAC such as its Charter and the resources, human and otherwise, available to it. Current concerns in development include such as issues as social justice, arts and disability, cultural tourism, black and minority ethnic arts and artform strategies. The discussion which followed Jim Tough’s presentation focussed on how such policies impacted at grass roots level and how they helped individuals working in the arts in areas such as those present were from. One delegate wanted to know how people could find benefit from them and, indeed, could access the arts at community level where there was no obvious or established arts provision. Delegates with such concerns were invited to contact SAC or their local arts officer directly to see what could be done. Note: Copies of Jim Tough’s slides are attaches as Appendix B Session 4 Case Studies: ‘Delivering the Art on the Ground’ Norah Campbell, Director, An Tuireann Arts Centre, Portree Gordon MacLean, Manager, An Tobar Malcolm MacLean, Director, National Gaelic Arts Agency Marcus Wilson, Visual Arts Marketing Co-ordinator, HI Arts The session explored the situation of two arts centres, on Skye and Mull, their histories, how they operated and in particular how they related to the local communities they served. The two agencies outlined their functions, Marcus Wilson of HI-Arts detailing the Visual Arts Marketing Project – how it had come about, the partnerships involved, the residences, the joint initiatives and out-comes. In both latter cases the creation of rational 18
frameworks, the highlighting and sharing of models of good practice, were crucial not least to increase the confidence of arts practitioners and, very importantly, funders. Note: Copies of Marcus Wilson’s slides are attached as Appendix C Session 5 The Role of the Artist Sarah Sumsion Jane Kelly Namasté McLardy Three individual artists explained how they worked in their individual situations, what were their problems, not least financially and in gaining support generally. Their main concern, however, was in the lack of outlets for their work particularly exhibitions spaces – a matter which they urged administrators, local and national, to do something about. In general discussion the issue of accessibility for artists and their potential customers to appropriate exhibiting and selling spaces emerged as key. While the artists recognised that it was by choice that they lived and worked where they did, they still felt that they did not deserve to be penalised for bringing to, and exercising their talent in, rural areas.
Session 6 Summing Up: The Role of the Audience. David Bruce, Chair, Argyll and Bute Arts Action Group. In concluding a most interesting and often illuminating conference, David Bruce reminded delegates – artists, administrators, politicians and others – that at the end of the day it was the public as tax-payers, rate-payers, sponsors, purchasers and audience who had to be persuaded of the value of the arts to the community and their contribution to the quality of individual and collective lives. That did not mean that the arts had to pamper to a complacent public; in fact rather that the audience required to be challenged just as much as entertained, but retaining the connection was vital be it in the grandest opera-house or the smallest village hall. He hoped that the conference had been useful as well as enjoyable and that it might set a pattern for future events. On behalf of ABAAG, he 19
thanked warmly all the speakers and contributors and especially the funding bodies, the Scottish Arts Council, HI-Arts, Argyll and the Islands Enterprise and Argyll and Bute Council without whose support such an event would have been quite impossible.
APPENDIX A Text of Mr Finn Anderson’s case-study
APPENDIX B Jim Tough’s Slides
APPENDIX C Marcus Wilsonâ€™s Slides