THE Culture Secretary Angus Robertson has warned that divestment campaigns against corporate sponsors pose an “existential threat” to Scotland’s arts sector.

Speaking in the wake of Scotland-based investment firm Baillie Gifford pulling its funding for literary festivals around the UK in the wake of boycott threats and divestment demands from campaigners, Robertson said that public money would not be able to step in if private investment dwindles.

Earlier this year, the campaign group Fossil Free Books urged the Edinburgh International Book Festival (EIBF) to end its sponsorship arrangement with Baillie Gifford unless the firm stopped investing in the fossil fuel industry and companies linked to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

After several authors threatened to cancel their events and campaigners continued to apply pressure, the EIBF announced that its 20-year partnership with Baillie Gifford had come to an end after both parties “collectively agreed” to terminate their relationship.

READ MORE: Tony Blair blasted for latest verdict on Scottish independence

Book festival bosses said the decision had been taken “with great regret” due to its ability to host future events being “severely compromised following the withdrawal of several authors and threats of disruption from activists”.

Soon afterwards Baillie Gifford cancelled all of its remaining sponsorship deals with literary festivals, with one executive stating that they held “activists squarely responsible for the inhibiting effect their action will have on funding for the arts in this country”.

The company also described the assertion that it had investments in Israeli companies involved in the occupation of Palestine as “misleading”.

Robertson has said more efforts by campaigners to encourage divestment will “profoundly damage” Scotland’s cultural sector.

He told The Times: “People need to wake up to the existential threat to many of Scotland’s festivals and cultural organisations. 

“Disinvestment campaigns are fundamentally undermining the arts sector causing immediate financial challenges and now face contagion by deterring further private sector and philanthropic support.

“This will profoundly damage festivals, venues and organisations which depend on a mixture of public and private funding.

“Resources are already stretched in sustaining the sector and we run the risk of choking off recovery for many already in financial distress.”

Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie has said the campaign to make Baillie Gifford divest from fossil fuels and companies linked to Israel “hasn’t worked” and called on activists to direct their ire towards more obvious targets.

He told BBC News: "I have mixed feelings on this in the same ways that I do with Extinction Rebellion protests, which impact on people rather than on the targets like the big fossil fuel companies.

"If the target of that campaign was to get Baillie Gifford to divest from fossil fuels and from companies tarred by association with Israel, then it hasn’t worked.

"The objective shouldn’t have been to defund literary festivals."