Union leaders warned 8,500 jobs could be put at risk by funding cuts to Creative Scotland.

Eight unions representing actors, musicians, artists, writers, crew and technicians called for a rethink over £7m cuts in the arts agency’s grant for the next financial year.

They have urged the Scottish Government to reverse the ‘perverse’ 10 per cent cut and warned it will affect already low-paid arts workers.

The alliance includes the Musicians’ Union, the Scottish Artists Union, BECTU, Equity, the Writers’ Guild, the Scottish Society of Playwrights and the Society of Authors.

The Scottish Trades Union Congress wrote to Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Culture Secretary Angus Robertson on behalf of the unions.

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It comes days after the launch of a campaign calling on the government to pull Scotland’s cultural sector back from the brink.

More than 12,000 supporters have already backed an online petition launched by the UK-wide grassroots Campaign for the Arts alliance.

It highlighted a string of closures in recent months, including the Filmhouse cinemas in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, the Blue Arrow Jazz Club in Glasgow and the Nevis Ensemble street orchestra.

The STUC warned that going ahead with Creative Scotland’s budget cut would put at risk 5,000 permanent jobs, along with more than 3,500 freelance workers.

The letter from STUC general secretary Rozanne Foyer states: “We’ve been campaigning for increased support for all workers right across Scotland to receive the urgent assistance they need to survive the cost-of-living emergency.

“Among the most precarious of these are those in our creative industries.

“They're twice as likely as other workers to be working two jobs and disproportionately subject to low pay and insecure work.

“They’ve also been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

"At a time when we should be rebuilding our creative industries, cutting arts funding is the wrong choice at the wrong time.

"It seems perverse to simply cut funding in this way without any seeming rationale for doing so.”

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Adam Adnyan, national officer at Equity, said: “Let's be clear, with inflation into double digits, this isn’t a 10 per cent cut to arts funding.

“It’s much worse than that.

“These cuts shouldn’t be used to justify low pay offers or the end of stable work.

“We call on the government to revisit these economically illiterate cuts.

“And we also give fair warning to employers that we will not allow them to use this as an excuse to degrade terms, conditions, or pay offers.

“No tactic will be off the table.”

Musicians’ Union regional organiser Caroline Sewell said: “Our members and other workers across the creative industries are currently facing a ‘perfect storm’ having been amongst the hardest hit by the pandemic and the least supported.

“This sits within a bleak context of ever-reducing income streams, the impact of Brexit and the cost of living crisis, from which no-one is exempt but particularly those who are already in low-paid, precarious work.

"We urgently need to see the reversal of the proposed cuts to Creative Scotland and long-term, sustainable investment across the arts elsewhere.”

BECTU negotiations officer Paul McManus said: “Many organisations are now facing deficit budgets for the coming year and with that comes the reality of significant job losses, cuts in earnings and venues closing in an industry which is already struggling to cope with a mass exodus of workers who can no longer afford to live off the disgracefully low wages and poor conditions historically prevalent in an industry that creates many millions of pounds in inward investment.”

Peter Arnott, one of Scotland’s leading playwrights, said: “Scottish theatre has never been as culturally weak as it is now.

“Like everyone else, we’ve suffered the multiple shocks of the pandemic and the following recession.

"Two or three years down the line and no-one is commissioning us for a future that doesn't look like being there.

“We need to arrest the culture of pessimism. The current cuts are disastrous."

Campaign for the Arts director Jack Gamble said: “In just a few short days, thousands of people from communities across Scotland have joined our campaign to urge the Scottish Government to think again.

"So much is at stake – not just for those who work in the cultural industries and depend on them for their livelihoods, but for all of us.

"When the arts and culture flourish, we all benefit – personally, socially and economically. Especially now, the arts should be supported, not cut.”


A government spokesman said: “We value the importance of cultural organisations and their contribution to the wellbeing of the country to promote the arts, provide employment and engage with communities across Scotland.

“It is for these reasons, among many others, that we provided £256 million in COVID support funding to help them navigate the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

“However, given the current difficult public expenditure environment, there are significant pressures on funding.

"We’ve provided Creative Scotland with over £33 million over five years to compensate for generally reduced lottery funding. When we’re facing difficult funding decisions, the time is right for Creative Scotland to draw on the lottery reserves available to them.”