Transmission, an artist-led organization, in Glasgow, Scotland.

Creative Scotland Board Members Resign After Controversial Budget Cuts

Days after Creative Scotland announced that it would award funding to nineteen new organizations and withdraw support from twenty other institutions for its 2018 to 2021 cycle, its board members, including broadcaster and journalist Ruth Wishart and Maggie Kinloch, a former deputy principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, began to resign.

Wishart told Brian Ferguson of The Scotsman that the body’s decision-making process is stressful and rushed. “Board members are not there to micromanage, but to offer strategic guidance to the executive, to interrogate decisions and their impact before approving them, to clarify any aspects which seem to be problematical or lacking obvious rationale, and to ensure maximum transparency can be offered as to why the executive has reached the decisions it has,” Wishart said. “It follows that the board can only exercise proper scrutiny and judgement if it is given sufficient background information, and, crucially, sufficient time in which to digest and consider it prior to meetings.”

Among the organizations that lost long-term funding are the Dovecot Foundation in Edinburgh and the NVA and Transmission in Glasgow. Founded by graduates of the Glasgow School of Art in 1983, Transmission is an artist-led space that produces exhibitions, events, and publications and hosts a residency program, among other initiatives. Upon learning that it would not receive its regular funding from Creative Scotland, Transmission released a statement condemning the decision. “This withdrawal of support severely compromises the future of the gallery and comes at a devastating time given the recent demographics and aspirations of the space,” it said. “Transmission interprets this decision as discriminatory, conscious or otherwise, and indicative of a wider but pressing issue of institutional bias.”

Transmission’s letter continued: “We understand our situation in a wider context of simultaneous cuts to disability-focused theater and children’s theater projects this year, following historic dismantling of grassroots and minority-led arts organizations across the UK.” Transmission will hold an emergency meeting to access its options this week.

Despite Creative Scotland’s acting chair Ben Thomson’s defense of the funding body—he claims that the decisions were arrived through a “clear and careful process” and were “unanimously” approved by its board—it will also hold a special meeting to review the mounting criticism of its funding allocations.