- Dunedin Consort is an organisation that, under the direction of John Butt, a world leading scholar, has won two Gramophone awards, a Grammy nomination and three ‘BBC Building a Library recommendations’, highlighting its exceptional contribution to the development of the music sector in Scotland. Over the past three years we have delivered everything that was required of us under the terms of our RFO agreement and the support from Creative Scotland has been a major contributor to this success.
- The decision to stop regular funding of Dunedin Consort sends an appalling signal about the priorities of Creative Scotland: it suggests that CS does not support excellence of performance in Scotland; it undermines our important work in reaching out to schools from deprived areas and amateur singers; and it calls in question our ability to maintain our programme of work outwith Scotland, that we believe contributes strongly to projecting our country in international terms. In short, we believe this decision flies in the face of the objectives of the Scottish Government in relation to the arts.
- We met with representatives of Creative Scotland earlier this week. They were unable to give us a sound justification for the decision, against the background of what was clearly a very supportive evaluation of our submission and a recommendation from the team that our case was strong and fundable. We cannot avoid the conclusion that Dunedin was ruled out for reasons that have nothing to do with our performances, reputation and plans, but which reflect a policy of supporting “enabling” organisations rather than performance, to widen “sectoral development” rather than continuing to support an established organisation with proven reputation and pedigree. As things stand, we have no indication whatever that any future efforts on our part – however recast – would bring us any closer to securing the type of funding we have been denied.
- We are particularly concerned that this decision appears to take little account of the achievements of Dunedin outside Scotland. The record is outstanding, including: Wigmore Hall residency 2016 – 22, BBC Prom 2017, Krakow residency Easter (2018), and planned activity in the United States, a territory that the Scottish Government has flagged as strategically important in their letter of guidance. We believe that we project Scotland well on the international stage, and that this accords with the general objectives of the Scottish Government. We cannot continue to do this without a strong home base of performance activity.
- Without Regular Funding we will find it difficult to continue to provide the range and quality of performances within Scotland that we have achieved in recent years, a paradoxical outcome given the reputation and success that CS’s own evaluation has recognised. We therefore urge the Board of Creative Scotland, at its coming meeting, to re-instate the Regular Funding of the Dunedin Consort. Given what has happened to other organisations across the board we recognise that the uplift we sought, albeit for justifiable reasons, is not possible at this time.
- We recognise that at our meeting the possibility of a strategic relationship was discussed, building on 6 months’ transitional funding and a strategic approach to Open Project Funding. We must first point out that any such approach starts from a position that is arbitrary and unfair, for the following reasons. While Creative Scotland has removed key Theatre performance companies from the RFO roster, it appears to have made more generous specific provisions to mitigate these cuts (transition funding extending to 12 months and the development of a new touring fund). The same courtesy has not been extended to the two Music organisations affected.
- If Creative Scotland is suggesting a way forward that is based on transitional funding and a strategic approach to Open Project Funding, we need better transitional support, covering a full year, and bankable assurances that the future strategic approach is a reality. We must be able to plan ahead.
Sir Muir Russell
Chairman, Dunedin Consort