This is a side-project where I interviewed the last 3 Heads of Music at SAC/Creative Scotland.
See the three interviews with Matthew Rooke, Nod Knowles, and Ian Smith in seperate blog posts below, along with a text synopsis of each interview:
The last 30 years in the Scottish Music scene have been quite a rollercoaster. The recent hoohah over Creative Scotland funding coincided with the completion of a side project of mine which is laid out here.
I feel that the history of Scottish music funding is very specific – we got here for a bunch of specific reasons and the road was quite winding with some significant winners and losers along the way. I thought it may be important for younger musicians and interested people to know how we actually ended up here. I think it is fair to say no one planned it to happen this way!
Anyway rather than just chunter about my own opinions of this ( I will do a video at some point of my experiences of the last 30 years and my views on how things have gone) I thought it was important to document what has actually happened – at least 3 very knowledgeable versions of what actually happened by the 3 men who were Head of Music at SAC/CS from 1992 to 2016.
Each video has a text synopsis of what each interviewee talks about if you don’t want to listen to the whole thing.
One of the biggest moments was the change from SAC to Creative Scotland and the 3-4 years of limbo that caused.
The way funding is “done’ has also changed massively:
1) with a move to Portfolio funding (where separate artforms now don’t have their own budgets – everyone applies for the same pot),
2) where there has been an apparent retreat from the funders taking a strategic leadership role – by that I mean strategy when you view the world from an ArtForm/Sector/Genre perspective, and
3) an apparent move away from specialist knowledge and engagement with the complexity of the world out there and the different contexts and needs of different genres.
Whilst one can understand the reasons in favour of this shift ( there has been a move towards focussing on delivery of public access, diversity and vulnerable groups, and social equity), none of the 3 Heads of Music certainly feel these trends have been positive.
One other point to make is this. Despite all the genuine intentions about “equality of opportunity” that was front and centre for Nod and Matt – and that was equality of opportunity for artists and musicians from different genres living in Scotland – and the need to redress the balance etc laid out in these interviews, that intervention/re-balance agenda seems much less prominent in current music funding policy – and many things haven’t changed as much as maybe we think.
If you just focus on National Bodies and Regularly Funded Organisations – ie music organisations funded on more than an annual or project basis- ‘Classical’ Music still actually gets 95% of that type of state music funding (which is roughly £30 million a year).
Obviously there is another £13 million or so given out per year in open project and targeted funding, but Creative Scotland doesn’t even list what Artform the recipients are ( ie whether Dance, Music, Visual Art etc) let alone which musical genre – so it would be quite a research job to get an overall figure for all funding. That in itself – that not even Artform is listed in the list of Project/Open Funding Awards – shows how far the modern funding culture has moved away from thinking in terms of Artforms and Genres.
Anyway I hope someone finds these interviews useful. There were enjoyable and educational to do.