Here MSP for Cunninghame North, Kenneth Gibson discusses how important it is to maintain our cross-cultural and creative links with Europe, at a time when our political and economic connections are subsiding.
With the UK on the brink of leaving the EU, Scotland’s role as an open, connected country is more important than ever.
While Brexit threatens our ability to connect and prosper, the SNP Government is doing everything possible to enable Scottish cultural connections to flourish. This includes setting up an International Creative Ambition Programme by May 2019, to support international cultural partnerships that develop new work and support talent through collaboration and exchange.
The programme will assist organisations and artists and help to pay for major new works to be staged both in Scotland and around the world. It will showcase the best of Scotland’s creative industries, promoting the importance of culture and creativity as a fundamental and powerful means by which Scotland remains open to the wider world and interested and welcoming of new ideas, people, languages and cultures.
The SNP Government has long shown its commitment to supporting the culture and creative sectors’ international ambitions. This has included the international touring fund open to national performing companies such as Scottish Ballet and Scottish Opera, both of which have performed on Arran.
The Scottish cultural sector has benefited from at least £59 million in European funding over the last decade, with more than 650 projects receiving help. Furthermore, around 6% of the creative industries workforce in Scotland comes from EU countries.
It is vital that these links and cultural exchanges with Europe are nurtured and valued for the way they connect Scotland to the wider world, and that they are able to continue their long and illustrious history.
Culture and artists also play a key role in how we are perceived internationally. Scotland is widely respected as an outward-looking and globally aware country that has a long history of cultural collaboration, not least through Scottish migration across the globe.
This year, the SNP Government’s budget will continue its commitment to the arts, with £269.6 million for Scotland’s culture and heritage sector. This includes continued support for the screen sector, with a further £10 million to support the work of Screen Scotland.
It is essential to continue our friendship, partnership and collaboration with EU nations. We all want Scotland to be recognised globally as a welcoming, creative and open nation, proud of our reputation and optimistic about the future.