Creative Scotland (Expenditure)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 10th March 2011.

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Photo of James Kelly James Kelly Labour

1. To ask the Scottish Executive what procedures are in place to monitor the expenditure of Creative Scotland. (S3O-13228)

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

As it is a statutory non-departmental public body, the expenditure of Creative Scotland will be monitored through the statutory requirements that apply to it, principally through the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010, which requires it to exercise its functions in accordance with the act, audit its annual statement of accounts, lay an annual report in the Scottish Parliament and prepare a corporate plan.

Photo of James Kelly James Kelly Labour

I thank the minister for her answer. Recently published details of expenditure by Creative Scotland have caused some concern—specifically, expenditure of £58,000 to fund a dance programme based on the works of Alfred Hitchcock and a trip to Tonga to study Polynesian dancing. That is at a time when hard-pressed organisations throughout the country are facing up to the financial crisis. Will the minister commit to a review of Creative Scotland expenditure and outline what actions will be taken against unnecessary expenditure, such as on the examples that I gave?

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

I have already met Creative Scotland and reminded it of its duty, which other bodies also have, to ensure that public spending provides value for money for the public purse. I point out that our world-leading creative industries support 60,000 jobs and generate £5.2 billion each year for the Scottish economy. I was frequently asked during the passage of the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Bill, which I think the member was involved in, to reassure the Parliament that as a minister I would not interfere in artistic decisions made by Creative Scotland. Unless the Labour Party is now backtracking on its commitment to artistic independence, the member may want to reflect on his question.

Photo of Linda Fabiani Linda Fabiani Scottish National Party

Will the minister reiterate on her Government’s behalf the commitment to the hands-off principle in the arts, as included in the Creative Scotland Bill by this Government? Does she agree that when we start talking about the potential for Government censorship of the arts, that is a bad prospect for Scotland?

Photo of Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop Scottish National Party

The arm’s-length principle was enshrined in recent legislation and supported by all parties in the Scottish Parliament. Policing and censorship by Government of individual artistic expression or of decisions made by artists or by Creative Scotland, as the body responsible for artistic grants, would be of some concern to the cultural community in Scotland. I agree with the member that we need to be cautious and careful about the arm’s-length principle.

Photo of Alex Fergusson Alex Fergusson None

Question 2 was to be from Elizabeth Smith, who I think must have failed to notice the change of starting time.