Festival bosses have questioned John Swinney’s decision to axe his Minister for Culture.

Last week’s reshuffle saw the new First Minister make a handful of changes to the government, with Kaukab Stewart, who had been Minister for Culture Europe and International Development,  made Minister for Equalities.

Her previous role was scrapped completely. 

The responsibilities were merged into Angus Robertson’s brief as the Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, External Affairs and Culture.

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However, as he is the MSP for Edinburgh Central, that could cause problems when it comes to Edinburgh's festivals.

Nearly all of them have their base and put on events in his constituency.

The ministerial code states that ministers need to “exercise careful judgement about possible conflicts between their constituency interests and their ministerial roles.”

It goes on to state that “they need to be alert at all times to the possibility that a conflict might exist or be perceived to exist.”

According to the most recent register of interests - last updated before the reshuffle - Mr Robertson “recognises that within the culture portfolio there is a heavy concentration of cultural venues, organisations and festivals in the Edinburgh Central constituency.”

It continues: “The Cabinet Secretary engages with the Edinburgh Festivals, for example attending performances, and as regards the work they do for international cultural links, but has recused himself on decisions on support for the Edinburgh Festivals.”

Mr Robertson’s entry then states that he has also recused himself from decisions about the Edinburgh Filmhouse, the King’s Theatre given his constituency interests and from “day to day decisions” about the national collections - National Galleries, National Library, National Museums.

His register states that the “Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development, leads on all the issues that Mr Robertson has recused himself from.”

However, as there is now no Minister for Culture, it is not clear who will now lead on all the issues Mr Rorbertson has recused himself from.

It is understood an update will be provided shortly.

Francesca Hegyi, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh International Festival told The Herald: “We note that Constitution, External Affairs and Culture now sits as the only portfolio within the Scottish Government where a Cabinet Secretary has no direct Ministerial support.

“A commitment to work collaboratively, and a focus on driving economic growth is essential if Scotland is to thrive and so we look forward to understanding how the Scottish Government plans to address the urgent issues faced by Festivals and the broader arts and culture sector."

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Last October, in his speech to SNP conference, the then first minister Humza Yousaf announced that the government would "more than double" the investment to the arts and culture sector, with a £100m increase in funding over the next five years.

The announcement followed pressure from the sector after ministers unexpectedly cut Creative Scotland's budget by £6.6m, despite promising not to.

Despite Mr Yousaf’s announcement, there is still some uncertainty over Creative Scotland’s budget for the next financial year.

Last month, they revealed that they had received 281 applications for their multi-year funding programme.

The bids will come from some of the country’s most well-known theatres, venues, festivals and arts companies total £87.5m However, Creative Scotland has said they will only be able to back “a proportion” as their budgets “remain extremely limited.”

They say that it is still not clear how much of the £100m announced will come to them.

Jack Gamble, Director, of Campaign for the Arts said: “I certainly can't see how a reduction in personnel is going to help the Scottish Government deliver the increased support it has pledged to the cultural sector."

"Despite the Scottish Government’s pledge last year to ‘more than double’ investment in culture, analysis by the Campaign for the Arts shows that this year’s culture budget is actually 6% smaller in real terms than it was in 2022/23," he added.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The First Minister has appointed a Ministerial team that reflects his priorities for Scotland. Work to sustain and develop Scotland's culture sector will continue to be led by Culture Secretary Angus Robertson. 

“Despite the challenging budget situation as a result of high inflationary pressures, Scottish Ministers have increased culture sector funding by £15.8m to £196.6m this financial year, as the first step to achieving our commitment to invest at least £100m more annually in culture and the arts by 2028/29. 

“Through this increased investment we want to drive up opportunities for participation in creative pursuits, support the production of new works, and ensure that Scotland’s cultural output has platforms at home and abroad.”