A councillor launched a scathing attack on the Scottish government’s record for spending on the arts as a new four-year cultural strategy for Shetland was launched on Friday.
Lerwick South member Gussie Angus made his feelings known to official Angela Saunders, who was attending the launch at the museum and archives of “On the Cusp …”, which spells out how the isles’ burgeoning cultural sphere might develop in the future.
In her remarks to a gathering of those who had been involved in devising the plan and invited guests, Ms Saunders said culture made a “massive difference” to people’s lives and praised Shetland for its strong emphasis on culture. She went on to say that she had been impressed by the live performance the previous evening of musicians Chris Stout and Catriona Mackay at the Town Hall.
That provoked Mr Angus to retort that Mr Stout was an “example of the investment this council makes in instrumental tuition”, adding that the government had failed to make similar necessary investment.
“I’m disappointed to see the Scottish government has cut funding to the Royal Scottish Academy. They’ve been demonstrating on the streets of Edinburgh about it. It’s to the detriment of students all over Scotland.”
He said arts students struggling to find places and tuition in Scotland were heading south of the border to Newcastle instead.
“The Scottish government’s not funding Newcastle. They are cutting money all over the place from arts and culture, and it’s bound to have an effect.”
Ms Saunders, who leads a team in the culture division at the Scottish government, said her brief did not cover education, but pledged to take Mr Angus’ concerns back south with her.