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RFO announcements: 25 Jan

The 23 visual arts organisations in the updated RFO Portfolio remain broadly unchanged. Stills Gallery and SCAN are new additions. It appears that Transmission Gallery has not been successful this time. Artist led organisations are a vital part of the visual arts scene as the Visual Arts Review evidenced very clearly and this will be a major blow for the many artists involved in the organisation either as committee members, members and supporters. Fife Contemporary Arts and Crafts is now part of the Craft Portfolio having previously been listed under Visual Arts. SCAN member Dovecot based in Edinburgh also appears to have been unsuccessful.

Many awards to visual arts organisations are at standstill with two showing cuts and two showing an increase. This will be disappointing for many as they already deliver high value programmes on very small amounts of funding with tiny staff teams. Many have ambitions to improve levels of pay and develop new opportunities for artists and audiences. The portfolio retains its strong geographic spread and includes the main production facilities that support artists and a wide range of gallery and non venue based organisations. Many of the multi art form venues that remain also have strong visual art programmes such as CCA, Tramway, DCA, Comar, Cove Park, Platform and Shetland Arts.

NEoN digital arts festival based in Dundee is a new ‘Digital’ RFO and Creative Dundee and Creative Edinburgh also join the Creative Industries portfolio

Other sector agencies and membership organisations including The Federation for Scottish Theatres, Creative Carbon Scotland, Craft Scotland, SMIA and Arts and Business Scotland have been brought into the portfolio however they were all annual clients funded through targeted support.

There appears to be quite major losses and some new organisations across the theatre sector and there has been an announcement of a new fund to support touring theatre. Multi art form venues seem to have taken the brunt of the cuts with the total number of organisations dropping from around 30 to 21.

We of course do not know how many visual arts organisations applied and were unsuccessful. There will be many I’m sure.

Considering the threat of large cuts to the total budget the visual arts have fared well and this is testament to the high regard in which the organisations are held. However the issues with funding routes and levels remain. Open Project Funds will continue to be an ill fitting solution for other small organisations that need to cover core ongoing costs. Other routes for support like local authority as one example continue to be diminished. And the level of funding available overall leaves Scottish based visual organisations way behind their peers in the rest of the U.K. Artists and those working independently rely on Open Project funds, alongside employment and opportunities within funded organisations, and this route will continue to be massively oversubscribed.

SCAN are pleased to have been given the opportunity of RFO funding but it is of course bittersweet when others have not been successful or secured the funds they need. However this investment will help us become the organisation that our members want and deserve. We will continue to work with them and our partners to progress our manifesto demands, address sector challenges and develop ambitious sector wide projects.

Seonaid Daly
Scottish Contemporary Art Network

Date: 25 January 2018