Art cuts would “devastate” culture north of the border, leading arts organisations warn

As arts organisations across Scotland, that receive Regular Funding from Creative Scotland, await the news of what funding they will receive for the 3 years between 2018 – 2021, an article in The Herald reports on the concern shared by leading arts organisations.

Art cuts would “devastate” culture north of the border, leading arts organisations warn

Phil Miller – The Herald (Nov 21 2017)

CUTS to cultural funding in the upcoming Government budget would “devastate” the arts north of the border and cause “irreversible” damage, leading arts figures have claimed.

A new letter published today, signed by several cultural organisations including the Scottish Contemporary Art Network (SCAN), says that arts support is now at a “tipping point.”

They are concerned that a cut in funding to Creative Scotland from the Scottish Government, in the looming budget, would add to funding woes already felt by declining Lottery funds.

The letter comes as Creative Scotland, the national arts funding body, has reiterated that it expects the amount of arts companies it supports with its crucial regular funding pot to decline.

Creative Scotland has said that decisions on future funding for regularly funded organisations will now not be known until the end of January.

The letter from a group of arts bodies says that the cultural sector is awaiting the looming Budget with “trepidation”.

It adds: “We have now arrived at a tipping point where even a small cut to Creative Scotland’s Grant-In-Aid, alongside reductions in Lottery and local authorities, will devastate Scotland’s cultural infrastructure.

“Damage to this infrastructure, developed with the aid of public investment over the last fifty years, will be irreversible.

“This cannot be overstated.

“Conversely, a very small increase in funding would allow the core infrastructure of arts and culture in Scotland to survive and to thrive.”

It adds: “We welcome the positive public statements made by the Scottish Government in acknowledging the central role culture plays across our society, and we applaud the major new investments in film and the Edinburgh Festivals, The Burrell Collection and The V&A in Dundee. Clearly, the will to support arts and culture exists at the highest level.

“However, big flagship investments cannot substitute for the basic funding that our everyday, small-to-medium sized cultural groups need to exist.

“If these disappear, which many will if predictions about cuts to Regular Funding Organisations (RFOs) are correct, how will we nurture and sustain the highly skilled but low-paid artists who deliver arts, culture and creative experiences to audiences across every community in Scotland?”

The Creative Scotland bulletin says: “We are committed to doing everything we can to announce these decisions as soon as possible after this but it is now clear that this will not be before Christmas.

“With this in mind, our planning now means we will announce decisions by the end of January 2018.”

The body said because the lateness of this decision, in the financial year, will be mitigated by extending regularly funded organisations contracts until May 2018.

It will also offer “transitional funding support” for existing companies which have been unsuccessful in their application for Regular Funding 2018-21.

Results of PiPA research published – 8 out of 10 parents turn down work

The results of the research carried out by Parents in Performing Arts (PiPA) have been published and reveal the astonishing, but possibly not surprising fact that eight out of ten parents turn down theatre work owing to childcare possibilities.

Over 950 people responded to the survey and 81% of those who are self employed have had to turn down work and 57% of people who are employed had also declined work due to caring responsibilities.

The full results were published in The Stage today and make for interesting reading.

Stellar Quines is pleased to be part of the nationwide consortium.

PiPA Best Practice Research Survey

We are currently working with Parents In Performing Arts on their ACE and Creative Scotland funded Best Practice Research Project, conducted in conjunction with Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Please find below the link to their survey about parental and caring responsibilities in the theatre industry. It is important that as many people complete the survey as possible, irrespective of gender or whether you have caring responsibilities or not as they are trying to get a comprehensive overview of the work/life balance and need to hear from everyone. The survey closes on Sunday, the 6th of November.

For more information about the survey please visit www.pipacampaign.com/research-information
If you have any questions about the process please let us know or contact researchers Tom Cornford (tom.cornford@cssd.ac.uk) or Tom Whittaker (tom@tomwhittaker.net) directly.

Thank you for your time and support. It is greatly appreciated.

SURVEY LINK:
Best Practice Research Survey

Stellar Quines seek to appoint Artistic Director

ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

The Board of Stellar Quines seeks to appoint an inspiring new Artistic Director to lead this award winning company, which champions the work of women and others both nationally and internationally.

The appointee will be an exceptional individual with passion, commitment and ideas, who will build upon the company’s existing achievements, under the leadership of award winning director Muriel Romanes. With overall responsibility for the artistic and executive management of the company in collaboration with the Board, they will maintain the highest possible standards in all areas of the company’s work, creating and leading on the company’s artistic vision and programme; seeking out and developing work for artistic collaborations, partnerships and co-productions and touring them; building and leading teams of creative practitioners, directing live theatre projects and productions, promoting new work and supporting and leading projects for new, emerging and established talent, developing the company’s profile with existing and new audiences and, develop the company’s significant reputation and contribution to theatre in Scotland and elsewhere, by keeping abreast of innovations and developments in theatre both nationally and internationally.

The Board are happy to accept applications from individuals and from those who might wish to apply as part of a partnership or team, and can demonstrate proven experience in working as a team in the creation and delivery of high quality innovative theatre which delights, challenges and entertains a wide spectrum of audiences.

Closing date: Friday 11 December 2015. Interviews will be held in the week commencing Monday 11th January 2016. The successful candidate should be available to take up the post from 1st May 2016.

For an application pack please email Lisa Sangster, Vice Chair at board@stellarquines.co.uk

Artistic Director Application Pack

Artistic Director Application Form

Equal Opportunities Form

Fiona Sturgeon Shea

How would you describe your current job and what do you like best about it?

As Creative Director, I am responsible for the overall leadership of the organisation which supports, develops and promotes Scotland’s playwrights. A great deal of my work right now is making and nurturing our partnerships – with playwrights, obviously, but also with theatre companies, academic institutions, funding bodies and others – here in Scotland, the UK and internationally. We are governed by a great board of directors made up of professional playwrights and other skilled professionals. And I’m supported by a talented and industrious small team in Emma Mckee, our General Manager, and Emma Campbell, our Communications and Administration Co-ordinator.

I love my job. It is an absolute privilege to work with playwrights in the way that I am able to. It’s a great honour to have people share their stories and their work with me, often when they are still raw and unformed – and to be invited into the different processes that playwrights practice. I never underestimate what a gift this is.

You were recently in Canada – what are your thoughts on the artistic links between Scotland and Canada?

We are part of an international network of playwright development centres across the world. Canada has a particularly strong tradition of this. We would love to work more regularly with our Canadian colleagues and that was part of the reason for my research trip.

Playwrights’ Studio was originally modeled on Centre De Auteurs Dramatiques, the Playwrights’ Workshop Montreal (and others). I wanted to check in with these organisations to compare our models and our activities, hear fresh thinking and discover innovative approaches to developing plays from experienced colleagues. Our Canadian peers were very open to hearing about our work. Playwrights supporting one another through mentoring is something that we are particularly strong on in Scotland. Obviously, I was also there to promote Scotland’s playwrights and was really heartened to discover that awareness is still very high. I saw posters of plays I had worked on at the Traverse and elsewhere in new Canadian productions adorning the walls of many theatre companies.

Our international work is designed to complement that of producing new writing companies like Stellar Quines and the Traverse whose work with Canadian artists has been exemplary. So, watch this space – or rather www.playwrightsstudio.co.uk!

What was your first ever job?

My father was a professional artist so I grew up in a family business. I worked in our art gallery and shop from a very early age. It didn’t pay very well and I doubt if I was a model employee!

My first full-time job was Marketing Assistant at the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh. This is where I met Tom McGrath when he was Associate Literary Director (for the whole of Scotland but based at the Lyceum). Tom felt that I was wasting my brain stuffing envelopes for most of the day – which really was the main job of a Marketing Assistant in the pre-Internet dark ages – and would give me scripts to read instead. That first year at the Lyceum was very important in giving me a real understanding of how a professional producing theatre works. Doing things as basic as gathering biogs for the programmes helped me understand the different roles and contribution people made.

Has there been a particular person or an opportunity that you feel has made the most difference to your career?

Tom McGrath was one of the most inspiring and supportive people I knew – even when we were arguing about things! He had such an influence on so many people – and still does through the Tom McGrath Trust. Another person I met at the Lyceum was Faith Liddell (now Chief Executive of Festivals Edinburgh). She and Tom were the people who believed in me and recognised potential in me that I didn’t necessarily see myself.

What has been your favourite theatre production?

Oh gosh, there are too many to choose from! The one production I will mention was Sarasine by the theatre company Gloria, adapted by Neil Bartlett from Balzac’s story. I saw it in the old Traverse and I’ll never forget Bette Bourne’s entrance (in complete blackout) as a 300 year old castrati. It was so brilliant, powerful and atmospheric, it’s really stayed with me.

What do you like the best about working within theatre?

It’s really always been about the playwrights for me – even when I was working as I did for many years in Audience Development. I loved what we achieved at the Traverse in the 1990s, spending a really significant amount of time with the playwright to communicate their intentions about the play in a way which also met the audience’s expectations. The playwright Nicola McCartney says that what I used to do was dramaturgy through marketing. That always makes me smile.

Who would your Stellar Quine of the month be and why?

Ella Wildridge the translator and dramaturg and patron of the Tom McGrath Trust – the woman is a genius. She’s inexhaustible and puts me to shame with her energy, ideas and the fact that she’s always learning.

 

Creative Scotland Funding for Stellar Quines

We were delighted to receive the news on Wednesday 29th October that Stellar Quines were successful in becoming one of Creative Scotland’s Regularly Funded Organisations. This news comes in the company’s 21st Birthday year and is welcome recognition for 21 years of successfully celebrating Scottish and international women’s voices at home and abroad.

Amongst some surprising announcements the company is certainly grateful to be included within Creative Scotland’s current portfolio, however now is not the time to rest on our laurels. Our figures suggest Stellar Quines’ 2015 – 18 funding allocation represents a modest year on year decrease. This means alongside delivering an ambitious programme of work over the next 3 years, we will also be working hard to identify new funding opportunities.

The reality of the funding environment is as such that there is not enough money to go round, and as with many other organisations, Stellar Quines will be seeking to diversify our funding streams to protect our long term future once that 3 year mark comes round again far too quickly. As a touring company with 21 years behind us we’re also mindful that we are still in receipt of one of the lowest levels of funding amongst regularly funded touring theatre companies in Scotland. This is without meaning to sound ungrateful, but a call to action for the company, to make an even stronger case for our existence within the theatre ecology of Scotland.

We cannot do this without continuing to nurture a culture of collaboration with artists, venues, actors, directors, creatives, all those who share in our creative life and work; as well as striving to continually develop and find new ways to engage with our audiences.

We look forward to sharing the next three years with you, and if you’d like to get in touch we’d be delighted to hear from you.

Rebecca Davis, Producer

rebecca@stellarquines.co.uk

Laura Mackenzie Stuart

Laura Mackenzie Stuart

How would you describe your current job?
My role within Creative Scotland is primarily to have an oversight of the theatre sector in Scotland in order to facilitate opportunity through funding and other initiatives. What this REALLY means is meeting lots of people and drinking vast quantities of tea during the day, and then in the evening ….

There is no typical day however.  This week for example has included giving specialist input into applications for funding, two panel sessions, giving an update at the Federation of Scottish Theatre members meeting, joint planning with Festivals Edinburgh and British Council Scotland to deliver tailored programmes for each of the 100 international delegates coming to Edinburgh in August and preparing briefings for our new CEO who arrives on Monday.  And tidying my desk for the same reason!

What do you like best about it?
Without doubt the biggest joy is the opportunity to see a phenomenal range of sensational work.
And my knowledge of highland roads is improving greatly.

What was your first ever job?
I spent two summers working at a fun fair in Luxembourg – involving a free pass to all rides – with the sole mission of perfecting my skill at sticking upside down to the inside walls of a massive spinning drum. Not necessarily a focused career decision…

First real job was to qualify as a Fine Art auctioneer at Philips in Edinburgh specialising in oriental ceramics.  This started a long and lingering love of the Far East and especially China.

What was the contact/opportunity/job offer that you feel has made the most difference to your career?
While waiting for an interview for something entirely unconnected I wandered into the Edinburgh Festival Fringe office in 1990 looking for some temporary work and left eight years later bitten by the theatre bug and married to an actor.  Since then, and for the 24 years since, there has been no better place to be in August than Edinburgh.

What’s the biggest opportunity that you missed or wished you had taken up but didn’t?
As the wacky world of pensions looms nearer I wonder if my father had a point when trying to persuade me and my sisters to be lawyers.  One is – but the rest of us are happy!  Actually, there are so many things still to be done that there just isn’t time to ponder the ones that got away.

What’s your favourite play or piece of theatre?
Novocento by Theatre de Quat’Sous of Montreal – a profoundly emotional one-person show with striking lighting and sound effects, which succeeded in making Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum theatre’s stage feel claustrophobic and left you feeling as though you had genuinely been in the bowels of a ship for weeks.

What do you like the best about working in theatre?
That rules are there to be broken and therefore the people who are drawn to working that way.

What advice would you give emerging female practitioners or producers in theatre today?
Don’t consider yourself a female practitioner or producer but use what comes naturally to your advantage.

Who would your Stellar Quine of the month be and why?
Freya Stark- writer, traveller and linguist – who personified the value of rule-breaking until reaching a 100 years old and loudly won the argument that being female doesn’t need to hold you back.