One of Scotland’s leading music festivals is fighting for its future after being turned down for Creative Scotland funding. 

Lammermuir Festival, which is based around the15th century Collegiate Church of St Mary’s in Haddington, is recognised as one of the biggest events on the UK classical music calendar.

The news comes in the midst of the 2023 Lammermuir Festival with the grant, which has been awarded in recent years, expected to make up 23% of the festival budget.

Organisers said that they were “appalled and saddened” by the decision, which has effectively stripped the festival of its cash reserves and threatens its existence.

News of Creative Scotland’s decision follows multiple applications for funding, all of which were turned down by assessment panels.

Festival organisers were informed of the final decision on August 22, 16 days before the 2023 festival opened. Funds were expected to come from Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund, where organisations apply annually for funding.

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A statement from organisers said the decision represents a material threat to an event which has brought some of the world’s leading classical talents to East Lothian and, in 2022, was worth £780,000 to the local economy.

The statement read: “The Chair and Trustees of the Lammermuir Festival are appalled and saddened at the lack of investment in the 2023 festival by Creative Scotland.

“It has indisputably been a huge success over the past 14 years, giving pleasure to audiences from East Lothian and further afield, transformative experiences for people young and old through our community engagement, and presenting Scottish and international performers with worldwide reputations in beautiful and intimate settings across the county.

 “If Creative Scotland had invested the sum requested in 2023 it would have represented 23% of the Festival budget. This is crucial investment in an area of Scotland which does not have regular high-quality cultural events drawing audiences to the area.

 “This year Creative Scotland has declined to support the festival despite having encouraged us to re-apply twice over the last nine months. Reasons given were first: prioritising applications with activity earlier in the year; second: Fair Work; third: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. This third application was refused on a criterion which the Music Department assessor judged to be fully met. We are urgently seeking clarification on how this could be. The artistic ambition and quality of the festival has been consistently recognised in Music Department assessments.”

A Creative Scotland spokesperson said: “Demand for Creative Scotland’s funding is increasing, and we receive far more applications than we have the budget to support.  Whilst we recognise the important contribution Lammermuir Festival makes to Scotland's music sector, unfortunately, difficult decisions had to be made and we were unable to support their most recent applications. We understand that this is disappointing, and we continue to advocate for more resources to support culture and creativity across Scotland.”

 Festival organisers still hope that the decision will be reversed.

They said: “To deliver this year’s Festival as planned we shall be obliged to use a significant proportion of our reserves which we have judiciously built up over many years.

“Thankfully on this one occasion we were in a position to do this, allowing audiences to once again enjoy beautiful music in beautiful places as in previous festivals, and meet our commitment to artists.

 “Without Creative Scotland support the Lammermuir Festival’s future is under threat. We urge Creative Scotland to reconsider their decision and secure the future of Lammermuir Festival. 

“In order to make plans and commitments for 2024 and beyond we need the financial stability which Creative Scotland has provided over the past 13 years. We are determined to save the Lammermuir Festival for the future.”