CREATIVE Scotland has come under fire for paying to bring in dozens of outside consultants ahead of major funding cuts that caused widespread anger in the arts world.

The arts quango paid £150,000 for 38 external assessors to cover for staff brought in during crunch budget talks that saw massive cuts across the theatre, music and disabled arts.

Creative Scotland said the extra staff were required as its experts were pre-occupied with deciding long-term funding packages.

READ MORE: Board members resign amid funding furore

But MSPs will today grill the body and ask why external staff were needed and whether such arrangements will be required in the future.


From May last year, Creative Scotland spent the funds on the assessors, which included artists, writers and critics, to judge smaller scale projects that had applied for cash.

READ MORE: Tv stars join fight ahainst cuts to disabled theatre 

They judged the Open Funding decisions, which support individual artists and companies with lottery-backed funds of up to £100,000.

Last month, the three-year regular funding (RFO) decisions, which are for major projects, plunged the arts body into controversy.

Several high-profile theatre, music and disabled arts organisations lost their funding including Catherine Wheels, Hebrides Ensemble, Lung Ha, Visible Fictions and Birds of Paradise.

It led to two board members, Ruth Wishart and Maggie Kinloch resigning and six companies were reprieved in a series of U-turns after an emergency board meeting.

Herald View: Serious questions need to be asked of Creative Scotland

Acclaimed theatre director David Leddy, whose company Fire Exit lost its regular funding in the controversial spending decisions, said the funding systems were “unfit for purpose”.

He added: “Creative Scotland urgently needs to overhaul its processes and return to using independent peer assessments of artistic quality as well as peer review panels to assess applications.”

Today the chief executive of
Creative Scotland, Janet Archer, and its former chairman, Ben Thomson, are to be quizzed by MSPs of the Culture Committee of the Scottish Parliament over the funding crisis.

The payments to the external consultants, who are contracted until next month is to be raised.

The Federation of Scottish Theatre said the removal of funds from
touring theatre groups and disabled arts “threatened the survival of not just these companies but the sector as a whole”. It added that it was viewed with “disbelief” around the world.

The Scottish Contemporary Art Network said the length of time the RFO process took was “unnecessary and debilitating which effectively undermined the operation of many organisations as a going concern”.

READ MORE: Creative Scotland to revamp funding after cuts U-turn


A Creative Scotland spokeswoman said the money for the judges was “sourced from Creative Scotland’s internal operational costs and has provided valuable employment for many in the sectors we support.

“A pool of external assessors were appointed to bring additional support and expertise to Creative Scotland whilst many of our art form specialism staff dedicated their time to assessing applications for Regular Funding, 2018-21.

Herald View: Serious questions need to be asked of Creative Scotland

“This ensured that the assessment of applications to both funds continued to be robust and fair, managed by people with appropriate levels of knowledge and expertise many of whom are practising artists, working alongside our senior specialism staff at all times.”