CUTS to cultural funding in the upcoming Government budget would "devastate" the arts north of the border and cause "irreversible" damage, leading arts figures have claimed.

A new letter published today, signed by several cultural organisations including the Scottish Contemporary Art Network (SCAN), says that arts support is now at a "tipping point."

They are concerned that a cut in funding to Creative Scotland from the Scottish Government, in the looming budget, would add to funding woes already felt by declining Lottery funds.

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The letter comes as Creative Scotland, the national arts funding body, has reiterated that it expects the amount of arts companies it supports with its crucial regular funding pot to decline.

Creative Scotland has said that decisions on future funding for regularly funded organisations will now not be known until the end of January.

The letter from a group of arts bodies says that the cultural sector is awaiting the looming Budget with "trepidation".

It adds: "We have now arrived at a tipping point where even a small cut to Creative Scotland’s Grant-In-Aid, alongside reductions in Lottery and local authorities, will devastate Scotland’s cultural infrastructure.

"Damage to this infrastructure, developed with the aid of public investment over the last fifty years, will be irreversible.

"This cannot be overstated.

"Conversely, a very small increase in funding would allow the core infrastructure of arts and culture in Scotland to survive and to thrive."

It adds: "We welcome the positive public statements made by the Scottish Government in acknowledging the central role culture plays across our society, and we applaud the major new investments in film and the Edinburgh Festivals, The Burrell Collection and The V&A in Dundee. Clearly, the will to support arts and culture exists at the highest level.

"However, big flagship investments cannot substitute for the basic funding that our everyday, small-to-medium sized cultural groups need to exist.

"If these disappear, which many will if predictions about cuts to Regular Funding Organisations (RFOs) are correct, how will we nurture and sustain the highly skilled but low-paid artists who deliver arts, culture and creative experiences to audiences across every community in Scotland?"

The Creative Scotland bulletin says: "We are committed to doing everything we can to announce these decisions as soon as possible after this but it is now clear that this will not be before Christmas.

"With this in mind, our planning now means we will announce decisions by the end of January 2018."

The body said because the lateness of this decision, in the financial year, will be mitigated by extending regularly funded organisations contracts until May 2018.

It will also offer "transitional funding support" for existing companies which have been unsuccessful in their application for Regular Funding 2018-21.