The latest row over Creative Scotland's funding decisions has prompted one oriental arts journalist to dust down his back catalogue and recylce some of his favourite fantasties. Since a number of these involve myself, and since he persists in attributing my tweets to Creative Scotland, supposedly as a part of some devilish spin operation, let me wearily remind him of those chiels that winna ding.
He has exhumed a tweet I sent last December following the Scottish budget and applauding the better than hoped for settlement for CS. Like all my tweets, this was a personal assessment of a situation where there had been widespread alarm at the possible level of cuts in CS's budget, and widespread relief when a generous settlement was finally agreed. The journalist in question saw fit to re-tweet it again this week, helpfully adding: "
"The full folly of this messaging (quoting my tweet) from @CreativeScots in Dec about the averting of Armageddon is becoming clearer as each week passes."
My tweet, he has suggested, was part of an "ill advised spinning operation" in which the organisation, its senior team, its board and uncle Tom Cobbley were complicit in crying wolf about the budgetary threats coming from the government. Pointing out to him that this was, to use a technical term, complete mince, has had little effect on his thought processes.
Some chronology and some facts: The board of Creative Scotland were given a presentation by the senior team during the run-up to the budget. It posited three scenarios which Creative Scotland had been asked to work up with different levels of possible cuts to be imposed. This scenario planning is the process undergone by many government funded budget supplicants, but the level of potential cuts this time was on the terrifying side of scary. Worst case scenario would have resulted in devastation of the sector.
At this point I wrote an article for the Sunday Herald outlining my personal alarm. According to the conspiracy theorist, this was yet another dastardly plank in the spinning machine. Scarcely. Not only did CS not see this article prior to publication, not only was it not in any way shape or form prompted by them, but the board was routinely advised ate meetings to make no public comment and direct any inquiries to the Comms team.
I have patiently explained this to the journalist in question. Several times. (And it is also pertinent to ask why an already over-stretched staff would spend weary and doubtless dispiriting weeks working up fake game plans.) But there are few as deaf as those who will not hear.
What did happen in that period, and it would have been strange had it not, was that Creative Scotland presented a paper which detailed how much the arts and creative industries generally brought to Scotlands wellbeing in terms of its hard economy, its self confidence, and its international impact. This was disemminated to anyone and everyone who might help to make the case for keeping the arts budget healthy. Some might call this spinning; I think it's more generally known as lobbying.
The allegation was also made by the arts correspondent that the culture secretary was already making speeches backing arts funding some time before the budget announcement. Well bless my soul! Culture Secretary calls for money for culture! Whatever next. Because, like every other cabinet secretary she too was lobbying the Finance Secretary to look kindly on her portfolio. Acknowledging her success in nourishing the arts kitty is apparently "cheerleading for the government".
The solid matter hit the fan a month later after a board meeting in January at which the senior team gave a presentation of who they planned to underwrite as regularly funded organisations and who they had axed from or added to the list. It is hardly a secret that this caused huge unhappiness. I subsequently resigned along with Maggie Kinloch. And, at a later board meeting where neither of us were any long present or involved, some of these decisions were re-evaluated and changed.
Not for the first time Creative Scotland finds itself in the firing line. And not for the first time some of its wounds are self inflicted. But it helps nobody to re-write history, or invent self serving narratives.