Culture and Communities Convener: A bit of creative accounting will keep city culture thriving

Councillor Donald Wilson writes in today's Edinburgh Evening News about the new approach to Third Party Cultural Grants

Culture is in our city’s DNA and I believe our vibrant cultural heritage and festivals offering is at the heart of what makes our Capital unique. As a council we are dedicated to supporting the sector’s continued creativity and success.

So I was very pleased that at yesterday’s meeting of the Culture and Communities committee, our new approach to Third Party Cultural Grants was agreed. This will see an innovative programme of strategic partnerships, funding models and the creation of a Flexible Fund for new applicants, which will begin from 2020/21.

This new programme was developed after consultation feedback showed that there was a real desire for funding to be more accessible as well as the need and the expectation to keep evolving and developing the cultural offering in the Capital, whilst ensuring a degree of stability to retain the city’s current success – this was no easy task!

Councillors have agreed newly banded funding allocations to a group of Strategic Partners including festivals, theatres and literary organisations alongside a brand new Flexible Fund of £200k, which will be an opportunity open to organisations not currently revenue funded by the Council.

I believe cultural organisations play a crucial role in our communities and the lives of our residents and that is why I’m so pleased that we have been able to complete this review whilst still delivering on our commitment to maintain as stable an environment as possible with our partners.

Our grants programme has always supported the city’s year-round cultural offering. The development of these new Strategic Partnerships is intended to strengthen our cultural infrastructure for a three year in principle term from 2020/21, which I strongly believe meets our aims of sustainability and ensures Edinburgh-based practitioners, participants and audiences benefit.

As I said before this was no easy task, and tough decisions had to be made, but in doing so we can be proud of the creation of the Flexible Fund, which will open up a substantial new annual project resource to companies and projects.   I’m excited to see what it will bring.

We have fought to make sure there is no proposed further reduction in the overall fund for culture, and have developed a renewed way of working that reflects our commitment to maintain our success whilst also responding to the need to provide more access to our limited resources.

Of course, we recognise that realigning our existing resources in new ways means change for some - there has already been criticism in the press from organisations who have seen a reduction in their existing funding – however, I am confident that we have equitably answered the remit and renewed opportunities and partnerships for all concerned.  These new allocations reflect our clear and ongoing shared commitment to the cultural health and vitality of the city.

We remain committed to actively supporting the upcoming generations of creative talent in Edinburgh and will continue to work in partnership with the culture sector over the next three years to plan for their continuing role in the city’s ongoing and future success.

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