Dunedin Consort’s application for Regular Funding from Creative Scotland has been unsuccessful. This decision is particularly unfortunate in the wake of the Scottish Government’s recent commitment towards Creative Scotland, offsetting the decline in Lottery funding. We presented an ambitious and wide-ranging programme of activity in our Business Plan for 2018-21, which was highly commended by Creative Scotland’s assessors. Despite being recommended for funding, our application was refused by the Music Team at portfolio level because ‘other organisations more fully met the strategic needs of the sector’.
As Scotland’s leading specialist period instrument ensemble, and the most decorated of any Scottish music company (with two Gramophone awards, a Grammy nomination and two Scottish Album of the Year nominations to our name), this comes as a significant disappointment. In the landscape of Scotland’s musical culture, no other organisation focuses on this vital area of the repertoire, uniting excellence in scholarship and performance to explore new ways of encouraging listener engagement. Dunedin Consort has achieved great success with very limited resources. Our artistic output, recognition in the industry and impact in the international and national music landscape in proportion to the level of funding and our turnover, cannot be matched by any other music company in Scotland.
Creative Scotland has in the past been very supportive of our work. Its funding currently accounts for 20% of our annual turnover (where other music organisations receive support between 46-74%) representing exceptional value for public money and without it, Dunedin Consort will be forced to capitalise more on its opportunities elsewhere. This, in turn, will reduce the performance opportunities for our Scottish audiences and supporters, including the valuable outreach work we undertake in schools and with young performers. After the enormous success of our recent performances at the BBC Proms and the Edinburgh International Festival, our national and international profile continues to develop apace – only yesterday we confirmed a further seven concerts in our residency at London’s Wigmore Hall, which sits alongside residencies at the Misteria Paschalia festival in Krakow and the Handel Halle Festpiele in Germany in 2018, and tours planned for Spain, France, Bolivia, Brazil, the USA and others over the next three years. Without support at home, this international impact – something vital to Scotland’s reputation – must be at risk. What is certainly clear, is that the lack of Creative Scotland commitment will mean that it will not be possible to match this international demand with performances on home soil.
We now have the option to apply for limited project funding through Creative Scotland, accessing a funding stream that is consistently oversubscribed and which brings with it the uncertainty of not being able to plan well into the future. Our board will need to consider how this will affect the future of the company as a whole, and whether – over the coming years – the impact of poor Scottish national support will ultimately deprive Scotland of one of its greatest cultural assets and ambassadors.
Alfonso Leal del Ojo