The potential impact of Creative Scotland’s decision to cut future funding for Lammermuir Festival has been raised in the Scottish Parliament by Martin Whitfield MSP.
Mr Whitfield raised the matter at Portfolio Question Time, asking Angus Robertson, Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, about the effect the funding cut could have on the Festival’s future.
In replying, Mr Robertson described the South Scotland MSP as “a doughty campaigner for Lammermuir Festival” before reiterating that financial decisions around specific organisations or events are matters for Creative Scotland, not government ministers.
Speaking after his question, Martin Whitfield MSP said:
“I had already written to the Cabinet Secretary about my concerns for the future of Lammermuir Festival, but was pleased to raise the matter with him again in the chamber.
“The decision to cut the festival’s funding is a hammer blow to one of Scotland’s most critically acclaimed live music events, which also makes such an important cultural and economic contribution to East Lothian.
“I will continue to press for a reversal of the decision to enable the festival to continue its excellent work.”
The full exchange in parliament is set out below:
Martin Whitfield: I know, because he kindly wrote to me about it, that the cabinet secretary is aware that as a consequence of those discussions, Lammermuir Festival in East Lothian has lost its funding from Creative Scotland. Its award-winning festival, which has been around for a number of years, is facing the real possibility of closure. How can the enhanced funding that has been promised for the future do any good if the quality, expertise and institutional memory of an award-winning festival such as Lammermuir Festival’s are lost in this financial year?
Angus Robertson: I pay tribute to Martin Whitfield, who has been a doughty campaigner for Lammermuir Festival. He is right to acknowledge that we have been in correspondence about the matter. It will be no surprise to him that I repeat the point—which I have made a number of times during this question session—that financial decisions by Creative Scotland in relation to specific organisations or events are for Creative Scotland, and it is not for Government ministers to be directly involved in them.
That said, Martin Whitfield is absolutely right to point out—although I am not sure whether he was welcoming it—that the Scottish Government is proposing to double the culture budget. That should be hugely welcome in all corners. I encourage Lammermuir Festival and all others that are in such circumstances to make clear their plans, hopes and aspirations to Creative Scotland for forthcoming funding decisions.