Europe, External Affairs and Culture – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:15 pm on 21st June 2007.
To ask the Scottish Executive how it will define "artists" in relation to the manifesto proposal for a new grants scheme for artists. (S3O-324)
I thank Andy Kerr for almost giving me notice of the question when he phoned me by mistake last week. Unfortunately, he did not tell me what his supplementary was going to be. I am considering an appropriate definition of "artists", which is needed for the operation of the proposed scheme.
It is reassuring that some members of the Labour Party do call on occasion. Whether they do so by accident is another matter entirely. I was concerned by the narrow definition of "artists" in the proposals in the SNP manifesto, which suggested that only those earning revenue from their work at this time would benefit from the proposed tax concession. I am concerned about how the minister will support aspiring artists who may not yet be in a position to put product material and their creative work on the market, to allow them to generate income. I asked about the definition because it appears that only artists who are earning now will benefit from the grant scheme that is described in the SNP manifesto.
Mr Kerr and I are thinking along the same lines. In an overall arts and culture policy, it is important to ensure both that emerging artists and those who are earning are treated well and appropriately, to ensure that their art is able to flourish, which is why I do not want to define quickly what we mean by "artists". I am considering the issue carefully and I am taking advice on it. I am looking closely at the Irish artists exemption model and at how other countries define "artists". The report of the Cultural Commission in 2005 showed clearly that a number of definitions and models are employed. So that no one is disadvantaged and that we do our best to boost the arts in this country, I intend to take advice and to make decisions once we have all the advice that is necessary.