Campaigners for a statue to commemorate feminist icon Mary Barbour are in shock that the project could be derailed after their application for funding was snubbed by Creative Scotland.

Despite already securing almost £56,000 of donations - half the money needed for a permanent sculpture in Glasgow - the Remember Mary Barbour Association’s (RMBA) request for funds was rejected by the Scottish arts body because of an apparent lack of community engagement.

The RMBA disputed the claims by Creative Scotland and said they found it “unbelievable” the organisation would not agree to match the funds they had raised. The campaign for the statue by the RMBA has generated support across Scotland, and been the subject of much debate and press.

The group needs just £110,000 to pay for a permanent statue to the campaigner and has shortlisted five sculptors, whose maquettes or scale models, are currently touring the community and been put on display in Govan - which was Barbour's home.

Mary Barbour rose to fame in the historic 1915 rent strikes in Glasgow and was admired for her pioneering work as a political figure, and her social reform campaigns. She is considered a hero of the Red Clydeside era of political activism.

The statue, were it to be erected, would be one of just 20 monuments dedicated to Scottish women across the entire country. Debate is on-going at the moment across Scotland about the need for the nation to properly recognise its historic women figures with the kind of public works of art used to commemorate men.

Maria Fyfe, chair of RMBA, said: “We are very disappointed and a bit surprised because we had thought this is the kind of thing Creative Scotland were likely to support as it relates so strongly to the community and gives work to an artist who would win the selection.

“Creative Scotland said they didn’t think there was enough involvement from the community, but what more do they want? We were very engaged - and with Govan people in particular. It had full support from all the councillors in Glasgow and the Scottish Parliament. So there has been a lot of public attention ... much more than other projects that have received funding.”

Local councillor John Kane, who worked on the application to Creative Scotland, was also dismayed by the decision. He said he found the Creative Scotland decision “unbelievable given the extent of what we have been doing both on our own and in conjunction with our artists”.

He added: “To ensure we had community engagement we had two people before Christmas last year going to schools, council events and pensioners’ lunches and we used all that feedback to put together a good application to go to Creative Scotland.

“I think we’ve carried out huge levels of community engagement. I almost fell off my seat when I read that. I’m desperately disappointed, given the amount of work we put into it that Creative Scotland picked that out as a reason for not giving us a grant."

A spokesperson from Creative Scotland said: “We experience a very high demand on our grants programme and we have to select projects that we feel fit most strongly with our ambitions for the arts, screen and creative industries across Scotland.

“We appreciate the important place in local and national history that Mary Barbour occupies and recognise the significant efforts that have been made to raise a memorial statue that will mark her contributions to civic life.

“While not being in a position to fund the project we do wish the organisers well and hope that the campaign will lead to a successful outcome.”

Those wishing to view the maquettes or donate to the fund can visit the association’s website at

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