Arts for a
The Charter for the Arts plans to take Scottish arts and culture into the 215t century. Alan Morrison spoke to Gail Boardman, the
While 1991 could hardly be said to have been a morale-boosting year for the arts in Scotland, a great deal of work was being done behind the
scenes to provide a framework that would set the country‘s culture on a healthier footing for the years ahead. The origins of the Charter for the Arts go back to autumn 1989 and a proposal for a UK-wide strategy by the then Minister for the Arts, Richard Luce. At first it was expected that the entire project would be prepared in London by the Arts Council of Great Britain, but Scotland, with its own education and legal systems and a strong sense of cultural identity, made a powerful case for a separate document dealing with those issues which are particular to this country. Subsequently a steering group was set up consisting of the Scottish Arts, Film and Museums Councils and the Convention of Scottish Local
‘The purpose of the exercise is to focus thought on what is the best use of resources to promote, develop and expand art and culture in Scotland,’ says Project Director Gail Boardman. ‘Once the Charter is prepared, each of the four bodies in the steering group will mould it into their ways of
‘It struck me that the Charter is like a skeleton, and the muscles are added by the arts organisations. It’s not there to tell people what to do.’
working. For example, with COSLA: the Charter will filter through to each local authority. Now, we can’t dictate that they will all adopt it wholeheartedly, but now they will know quite clearly what is the accepted policy. It struck me that the Charter is like a skeleton, and the muscles are added by the arts organisations. It’s not there to tell people what to do, but it is there to provide a path that is the result of months of discussions.‘ These ‘months of discussion’ consisted of a series of well-attended public conferences across the country on each of the arts and associated topics, over 12,000 discussion papers sent out to interested parties for comment and an extensive survey report, commissioned by the SAC from System 3, which gives a comprehensive picture of the general population’s participation in and attitude towards the arts in Scotland. This unprecedented information base is now being
organised into draft form by columnist and critic Joyce McMillan, before undergoing further consultation and being integrated into the National Arts and Media Strategy.
‘Having it in the bloodstream of the main funding organisations will have an impact on the way they organise support,’ continues Boardman. ‘At the moment every funding body has terms and conditions for application; what the Charter will do is refine these and show a thread throughout the arts in Scotland, with clear justification for it. And that is why the consultation has been so important, because it has drawn the recipients of advice and funding into creating policy.’
Perhaps the greatest spin-off benefit of the process has been the fact that artists, administrators and audiences have finally got round the table for open discussion and have, by and large, discovered that they have a common purpose. Perhaps the ‘us and them’ mentality will not disappear overnight, but at least all sides now have a better understanding of the others’ viewpoints. A recent one-day conference on Glasgow‘s submission to become City of the Visual Arts in 1996 under the Arts 2000 programme, benefitted from the fact that many basic points had already been thrashed out at the Charter’s visual arts sessions. It is to be hoped that the same sense of working together to strengthen the arts in Scotland will continue in years to come.
‘The more discussion there is, the more people find out they’re not alone,’ agrees Boardman. ‘lt’s a means of allowing people to make their case to a person, not the voice at the end of a telephone or the writer ofa letter. In the long run, if they keep up the contacts that have been made at these meetings and share information, then the case that can be made for whatever becomes necessary is that much stronger.’
Draft copies of the Charter for the Arts will be available for consultation around A pril/May, and comments are welcomed before publication. Further information is available from the Scottish Arts Council, 12 Manor Place, Edinburgh, EH3 700 (031 226 6051).
I R80 Conductor. Regardless of recent backstage tensions, the Royal Scottish Orchestra has secured a hit with audiences and critics alike in the shape of new principal conductor Walter Weller. An orchestral player himselfsince his teens. the 52-year-old Austrian conductor has promised to endow the orchestra‘s future with new recording deals and extensive foreign tours. While continuing to fulfil engagements with other orchestras, including a spell as chiefguest conductor of the National Orchestra of Spain, Weller intends to stamp his identity on the R50 by conducting 28 concerts in a full season during the three years of his current contract. I Anti-Racist March: Against a rising tide of fascism and racism in Europe and here in Scotland, various anti-racist groups have pulled together to hold a march and rally beginning at 11am on Sat 18 Jan in Kings Stables Road, Edinburgh (near the Grassmarket). The rally will criticise the British legal system for failing to convict anyone for the allegedly racist murder in Edinburgh of Ahmed Sheikh. Meanwhile, the STUC, a recent addition to the ranks L ofthe Anti-Racist Alliance, has
4The List 1:1":30January 1992
called for all Scottish democratic political parties to refuse to share General Election platforms with the British National Party.
I Film Workshop: For all those who have an uncontrollable urge to shout ‘action’, the Glasgow Film and Video Workshop is at hand with their second annual production workshop. A minimum of ten productions chosen from submitted proposals will be made on 16mm, 8mm and video, with free use of equipment, stock and £100 to cover costs. There are no guidelines on content, which can be anything from fantasy to fly-on-the-wall, but length should be between five and fifteen minutes. Application forms are
available from GFVW, 7 James Street, Glasgow before the deadline of 8 Feb.
I Constitution Conference: A one-day conference on ‘Constitutional Reform and the Scottish Parliament‘ will be held in the William Robertson Building, George Square, Edinburgh on Sat 25 January from 1—5. 15pm. Speakers include James Cornford, Isobel Lindsay and Alan Lawson. Tickets £4 (£2/free to Charter 88 members) are available from the Centre for Continuing Education, 11 Buccleuch Place , EH8 9LW (031 650 4375). The Scotsman Debate on the future of government in Scotland, which will take place on Sat 18 Jan in
million regeneration project in the (initials area oi Glasgow. The Glasgow Development Agency, wanting with the District Council and Scottish Homes. acquired the iii-acre site, previously occupied by the infamous iiutchesontown E tiats. alter their demolition in 1 987. The new development will he designed by London architects CZWG.
Edinburgh’s McEwan Hall, is already sold out. Leading the discussion will be lan Lang (Conservative). Donald Dewar (Labour), Alex Salmond (SNP) and Malcolm Bruce (Lib Dems). The debate will be broadcast live on radio and at a later date on television.
I Women’s Saiety: As a precursor to
a major conference on women‘s safety early this year, ScotRail has agreed to meet with the STUC‘s Women‘s Committee and representatives from the Police and the Strathclyde PTE to discuss the safety ofwomen travelling on Scottish railways. The meeting and conference are part ofan on—going campaign by the Women’s Committee to improve safety for women on public transport in general. ‘Women feel more vulnerable and even less inclined to use public transport when stations and trains are not properly staffed,‘ said Ms Ronnie McDonald, STUC Assistant Secretary. ‘We have been in touch with ScotRail about measures which could be taken to improve facilities for women in public transport networks, such as increasing through journeys, introducing panic buttons and stepping up the patrol ofstations and
trainsb trans rt lice.‘ Y P0 P0 J