Where is the 'No' case for culture?
It is notable by its absence. In the arts world, the Yes campaign, and those in favour of independence (which does not, necessarily, mean they are SNP supporters) hold the dance floor.
Any artistic 'Nos' sit silently off to the side. The Yes campaign has a real, if unquantifiable in electoral terms, advantage in its vocal, organised and articulate support from a significant portion of the artistic world.
Some are more high profile than others, but one could be forgiven for thinking (as some apparently do) that nearly all artists and those working in the cultural world in Scotland are instinctive and passionate 'Yes' voters.
Just this week, the playwright David Greig posted on Twitter, the social networking site, a series of exchanges between a Yes and a No point of view, which made his by now well-known opinions on the matter both amusing and clear. He later added: "'No' rhetoric is reduced to a dismal litany of fears. They are not saying we are Better Together, they are saying we are trapped." As I have written before, whatever your thoughts on the independence referendum, the National Collective is a creditable exercise in momentum-building, advocacy, and organisation and has provided a forum for some articulate thoughts about Scotland and its possible futures.
Where is such an articulate cultural voice from the No side, or the Better Together campaign? There really isn't one. Yes, some artists, individually, have come out against independence, but there is nothing on the No side to compare to the organisation and enthusiasm of the National Collective.
There are isolated voices: in September 2012 JK Rowling said devolution had been "fantastic for Scotland" and had given the country "a great deal" (although her views may have changed since then). Also last year, the author CJ Sansom used the notes of his book Dominion to say the SNP was "dangerous". Who else has spoken out from the No side of the fence? Susan Boyle and Sharleen Spiteri, lead singer of Texas.
The Better Together campaigners have not elucidated what they believe are the benefits of staying in the UK for the Scottish cultural sphere. But they believe many artists and people working in the creative industries are not in the Yes camp. One source in the No camp believes 'No' leaning artists are afraid of speaking out, not only because they might be barracked or ridiculed online, but also because they are worried it may affect their prospects of future funding. These fears are likely to be unfounded, but if they exist, it is easy to imagine why the people who hold these views are staying quiet.
But given the running made by Yes voters in the cultural sphere, and how articulate and, to some, even inspiring some of these voices have been, perhaps it would behove their opponents to make a case for culture from the opposite point of view.
Indeed, I have been informed this will happen. A "fair sized group" of artists and practitioners from various parts of the cultural world are being assembled to argue the 'No' case. They may speak out nearer the time of the vote. For the time being, in the cultural sphere of the debate, it looks like the No campaign is ceding the floor.
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