History of Scottish Music Funding Part 3

Apologies for the sound quality in this interview:

Ian Smith took over from Nod Knowles in 2005 and retired in 2016.

In this interview he talks about how:

  • He was a gigging musician in Scotland for 20 years and then worked in the Scottish MU from '93- '05. So he knew the business inside out..
  • He had worked with Nod Knowles setting up the YMI and wanted to move from the MU to the SAC job whilst continuing to fix things for gigging musicians.
  • When he arrived he had to adapt to the bureaucracy and admin processes.
  • He inherited the approach from Nod and wanted to take focus more into commercially aware direction and to focus on what musicians and educators needed to do their work.
  • In working with organisations, as well as quality in the musical product, he also wanted similar quality in admin and infrastructure.
  • The base of the music funding pyramid had been exapnded to include folk and jazz and now was expanded further to included rock/pop indie.
  • He continued the work on showcasing - continuing to develop Showcase Scotland and adding in SXSW and Womex.

Major structural organisational changes happened during Ian's tenure as SAC changed into Creative Scotland.

Within a year of taking up the post the transition from SAC to Creative Scotland started and took 3-4 years. Ian says "the gestation period of Creative Scotland was far too long" and saw this as being difficult both internally and externally with the main negative impact being confusion. There was a limbo period that was very difficult for everyone - and he cited this as a reason why the SJF wasn't successful.

He describes having a good working relationship with Andrew Dixon who he respected, but said that he refused to work on areas outside his specialism and even declined the traditional arts portfolio - including folk music. Ian says the portfolio management culture - where different Art forms competed for the same budget - was a failure. He articulates how he had less ability to influence what got funded and be strategic once the Music Department lost its own budget. He also mentions a lot of successive Senior Management plans at CS, which had the cumulative effect of meaning that there was no clear strategy and a general move away from sector specialism and expertise.

As achievements Ian lists:

• Developing Recording Fund and touring.

• Supporting the development of SNJO to become an RFO - and he feels it should be a National Organisation alongside RSNO and Scottish Ballet.

• Having a good team with a complementary set of skills and knowledge to his.

• Promoting awareness of intellectual property awareness within CS.

• How the education sector has grown including consolidation of the YMI, and looking at the wider range of students leaving the RCS including jazz and folk musicians coming out with a very high skill level.

Towards the end Ian talks about how a coordinated investment in a sector like jazz could have a lot of positive benefits -  and when I asked "Why hasn't that happened" he said again "Portfolio management was a mistake."

At the end, following the recent controversy over RFO funding , I asked Ian what he felt about the tension between supporting existing organisations and the need to create new organisations  and infrastructure - especially in sectors where they don't currently exist - in a world of decreasing budgets.

Ian points to the SNJO, AC Productions, and SWG3 as signs that new high quality organisations are being created and supported in Scotland but also points out that the demand is too high for the available money and the sector needs more investment. He recommends making SNJO, NYOS and NYCOS national organisations- and that status needs to be more broad and inclusive. He also questions how it is possible to produce world class opera in Scotland and whether the current approach is right. He leaves us with the question:

"If there isn't enough money to go round, how do you fix that..."




Arsehole Force: How to not be an Arsehole by an Arsehole…

How to not be an Arsehole by an Arsehole

I am working on accepting and admitting that I am at times an arsehole.

An arsehole who denies he or she is an arsehole is a much bigger arsehole and much harder to be around.

An arsehole who accepts he or she is an arsehole and takes responsibility and apologises (without needing to be asked) when he or she is an arsehole is hardly an arsehole at all.

So by admitting and accepting that you are an arsehole you kind of stop really being an arsehole.

It is known as the arsehole/not an arsehole paradox.

That is it.

(This post on Facebook was the origin of Arsehole Force!)

Potted Grammy’s 2014 for those that missed it


Potted Grammys for those of you that missed it. 

Beyoncé came on looking very hot in her undies and sang a carefully choreographed incredibly lit version of Drunk in Love while sitting on a Mandy Rice Davies chair. It is an ode to having sex with Jay Z, who showed up near the end in a DJ and large bow tie and phoned in an inaudible rap. I can't have been alone in wondering if there isn't a part of Beyoncé's brain thinking "I'm working way harder at this than he is..."

 Anyhow one person who probably was wondering something like that was Jamie Foxx who came on (after Pharell appeared in a weird oversize Mounties hat looking a bit like some weird Rupert the Bear sidekick) and  basically creepily flirted with Beyoncé who was by now sitting in the front row with her husband in a "sorry Jay Z I can't help looking she's so hot" way. 

Then Mackerelmore or someone came on (a white rapper who looks like Boris Becker with a tunnocks tea cake on his head) he rapped a very actually uplifting ditty about gay marriage. This took a turn for the bizarre when Queen Latifah - who looked very happy to be there in not a totally convincing way - announces that 29 gay couples and Mackerelmore's sister were gonna get married right there and then during the song. Latifah kind of asked them to say I Do whilst stood in front of a glass door through which unbeknownst to us , and apparently Queen L, Madonna was about to make a huge entrance. 

So Ryan Halibut (Mackerelmore's mute underfed sidekick) had to manhandle the heft of Latifah out the road just in the nick of time so that Madge could burst through said glass doors dressed like a diazepam befuddled Miss Haversham in a white cowboy outfit . Madge started screeching out 'Open Your Heart to Me ' in a vocally rancid way while holding a weird white walking stick (She must have had a sprained ankle cos nobody, I repeat nobody, could have thought it looked cool) . 

Basically Madonna was only the first of several over the hill superstars stinking up the place with their dazzling hasbeenosity, and made to look even shitter by on top of their game performers like Beyonce and Pink.

Daft Punk came on , well Chic with Stevie Wonder and Pharell,  to do 'Get Lucky' . Initially Stevie appeared to be have misunderstood the gig and seemed to be working as the stenographer in a court room taking a transcript tapping on this small box . You could see him actually typing "She stays up all night for the sun...," 

Google work revealed that the small thing he was tapping was in fact an iPad. Maybe the Stylophone app as a tribute to Rolf Harris? But you couldn't hear it or Stevie singing much ( though he clearly isn't over the hill in any way) which was a shame cos Pharell sang (allegedly his first live performance of the song) and sounded nearly as bad, but not quite, as the folk cover of Get Lucky by Aly Bain et al on Hogmanay.

Suddenly a curtain pulled back and there were the two Dafties in Darth Vaderesque helmets like two elective mute boys at Nursery. The music got suitably zowie wowee for a while.

Then less like a Monster of Rock more like the Bloated Carcass of a Dead Seal of Rock appeared ie Metallica with a Chinese pianist who had a two or three letter name beginning with Y. He did a ridiculous but suitably bish bash cod Liberace intro on piano until Metallica lumbered into full er throttle? strangle? like an overweight Dad going jogging in leather trousers and a tattoo sleeve.

Lars may have once been a decent drummer but now he drums like the guy who is still in the band cos he has a van but had to cut his hair cos he works in an insurance office during the week. In fact he probably spends his week counting his money.

In the middle of this came Lorde who was pretty good.

Pink did another dazzling aerialist display which wasn't as good as the amazing one she did at the Grammys in 2010 despite an increased range of death defying moves. It wasn't as good a) because in 2010 she hadn't already done it in 2006 and b) she didn't get dunked in water in the middle of it like an overexcited teabag ( as she was in 2010 to general astonishment). Then she jumped off the ropes and started doing angry couple dancing with a bare torsoed male dancer before changing into a frock and duetting with some singer I had never heard of in unfeasably long shoes.

Then, as if Madonna and Metallica weren't enough then came Paul McCartney and Ringo. Now I love the Beatles as much as the next man but since Paul McCartney did Hey Jude at the Olympics surely someone needs to have a word. Despite the massive back catalogue of great songs he did something new from a movie that was just bleaaah. 

It had that sub Chas and Dave chug a lug groove of so much of his post Beatles stuff.

Ringo was on drums in the sense that he was sat behind a set of drums and waving his arms about holding sticks. He was clearly miming and clearly didn't even know what he was meant to be playing.

At this point I went to bed and unfortunately missed Taylor Swift head banging to a ballad while playing the piano which I have seen since and looks like she was either having an orgasm or had tetanus.

Basically it was all good.

It was definitely Not Jazz.