WORKERS in Scotland’s culture sector have railed against the re-imposition of a £6.6 million cut to Creative Scotland funding.

Shouts of “fund the arts, stop the cuts” rang out around Holyrood as more than 100 people gathered outside the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday to denounce the funding reduction, which First Minister Humza Yousaf said was down to the strained finances of the Scottish Government.

Speaking during a by-election campaign stop, Yousaf said that ministers had been forced to make “really difficult decisions”.

He said: “Our public finances are the most strained in the devolution era and that is not down to decisions we've made. It's down to the disaster of the mini-budget, sky-high inflation, which has impacted our budget.

“It's impacted the Welsh Government's budget, impacted the UK government's budget, and the Northern Irish government budget too. So we are facing extreme financial constraints in relation to our budget.

The National: A protester calling on the Scottish Government to reinstate £6.6 million of Creative Scotland funding A protester calling on the Scottish Government to reinstate £6.6 million of Creative Scotland funding (Image: NQ)

“But what's important in relation to this specific issue is that any funded organisation that was due to receive funding, that £6.6 million funding, will still receive that funding.

“What we've simply asked Creative Scotland to do is to use their reserves, that £17 million of National Lottery reserve that they have, to use a portion of that reserve.

“And what I've made abundantly clear, and Angus Robertson has made it clear, is that subject to Parliament approving the 2024/2025 budget, we will make sure that money is restored in full.

“So no funded organisation is going to be out of pocket. They're going to continue to receive the funding they expected to see this financial year.

“The difference is that they will get that money from a reserve, a portion of a reserve that's coming from Creative Scotland as opposed to from the Scottish Government.”

READ MORE: Protesters call on Scottish Government to withdraw spaceport support

However, Rachel Flynn – an actor, writer and member of creative sector trade union Equity’s national committee for Scotland – told crowds that the cuts stripped away power from artists.

“With rising costs current funding alone without the cuts will not even maintain the regularly funded organisations we already have,” she said. “So, how are freelancers meant to survive?

“Where will we have space for new voices?

“Not only is this U-turn a huge betrayal of national trust but yet again another case where art and culture is being constantly devalued by people who consume our output on a daily basis.

“This is not just a hobby. This is our career, our jobs. We deserve to be properly paid for what we do. We deserve to be seen as the lucrative investment that we are for this country.”

The First Minister said Creative Scotland would have to use some of its £17 million of reserves to make up the shortfall.

Several MSPs from the Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Labour were in attendance at the protest and signed a petition calling for the funding cut to be reversed.