A SCOTTISH Labour bid to reverse the £6.6 million funding cut for Creative Scotland was rejected by MSPs.

The party brought forward a motion on Wednesday afternoon in the Scottish Parliament calling for the in-year reduction to be reversed with “immediate effect”.

However, the Labour motion failed, as Culture Secretary Angus Robertson’s amendment passed with 65 votes for Yes and 51 for No.

This meant that Scottish Labour MSP Neil Bibby’s motion was changed to exclude the call to reverse the cut and instead state that “in common with other sectors, arts and culture organisations are experiencing significant pressure due to increases in the cost of living as a consequence of Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the actions of the UK Government”.

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Robertson’s amendment also welcomed Creative Scotland’s use of its National Lottery reserves to compensate for the budget cut.

The final amended motion passed with 65 votes for Yes and 52 for No.

It comes after First Minister Humza Yousaf pledged more cash for the culture sector during his keynote speech at the SNP conference.

He said the commitment would mean that “by the end of the five years, our investment will be £100 million higher than it is today”.

Speaking in the chamber, Bibby (below) noted the “enormous contribution the arts and culture sector makes to Scotland’s national life”.

Bibby said the cut was a “serious betrayal of trust” for a culture sector which he said was at “breaking point”, and questioned whether the pledge made by the FM meant funding for the sector would "more than double".

"Why is the Government stating it is doubling the arts and culture budget by £100 million when the existing budget appears to be £175 million. People in the sector deserve to know," he said. 

“We do not welcome broken promises, we do not welcome the cut this year, that risks organisations going to the wall, who have to submit their applications today to Creative Scotland, and we won’t welcome more baseless promises," he added.

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“Today’s debate is an opportunity for the Cabinet Secretary to cancel his cut this year and set out details of the announcement and answer a series of questions.”

In his opening remarks, Robertson commended Bibby for bringing forward the debate but not the motion that “can’t bring itself to welcome a doubling in planned culture spending”.

“I fully appreciate that this is an incredibly challenging time for the sector, enduring the shocks of Brexit fall out, the pandemic, the energy crisis and the mismanagement of the economy by the UK Government which has sent prices spiralling,” he added.

The Cabinet Secretary insisted that the Scottish Government will “more than double” arts and culture by £100m over the next five years.

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He added: “As a result of rising costs and pressures across Government, we are unable to make up the ongoing shortfall this year, so I agreed with the Creative Scotland board that they will use their National Lottery reserves to make sure that all regularly funded organisation payments are met in full, as provided for in the 2023-24 funded agreement.

“This will mean that the regularly funded organisations will not receive reduced funding this year.”

Scottish Tory MSP Alexander Stewart (below) told the chamber that to say the culture sector has been “left struggling to trust this government would be a major understatement”.

“The Government’s record on this issue is not one of empowerment, rather it is one of non-committal and uncertainty,” he added.

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He accused the Scottish Government of “leaving the sector to look after itself” and said if it wasn’t for the lottery reserves there would be “massive cuts”.

Meanwhile, Scottish Green MSP Mark Ruskell said there needs to be a “radical rethink” of how the arts and culture sector is funded.

“We need to see a long-term strategy for culture that pivots away from stop-start funding towards multi-year budgets,” he said.

“A strategy which values the wider benefits that culture brings, including through preventative spending as well as creative use of the Transient Visitor Levy at a local level.

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“A strategy co-produced with the cultural sector, reflecting calls from artists unions for Fair Work conditionality on arts funding, to value, protect and grow the workforce in Scotland while attracting even more talent.”

It comes after the First Minister told his party conference in Aberdeen that ministers would “more than double our investment in Scotland’s arts and culture” over the next five years.

Yousaf added: “This means that by the end of the five years, our investment will be £100 million higher than it is today.”