Arts Council funding

A LOT OF people are asking us why the Scottish Arts Council (SAC) has decided to axe Wildcat’s revenue funding and thus destroy the theatre company. Some favour the conspiracy theory. There is certainly some evidence that the current director Seona Reid has for some years held Wildcat’s work and audience in thinly disguised contempt. Myself, I incline more to the cock—up theory. The precedents are there. They have made a complete hash of their relationship with Scottish Screen and as a result lost Stuart Paterson’s £5 million Cinderella to Ireland. They have marched over Scottish Ballet with all the sensitivity of a Jurassic dinosaur. One of the problems of a small clique of like-minded bureaucrats operating behind closed doors is that they seldom hear any opinions but their own.

It must have come as something of a surprise to them that almost the entire theatrical profession has sprung to our defence. But the support goes far wider than that. Messages of disgust at the Arts Council's decision have flowed in from as diverse vorces as Campbell Christie of the S.T.U.C., Tommy Gemmell the Lisbon Lion and Duncan MacLaren, Head of International Relations, Caritas

Internationalis, Vatican City! And of course, the public. Thousands of people are signing our petition to have this destructive deCision overturned.

The problem is a much more serious one than the incompetence and insensitivity of a few people who work at the SAC. The Arts CounCil itself is in urgent need of a root and branch reorganisation. It must be made to operate in a more open way, its deliberations should be made in public, it should consult With a far Wider range of people from all walks of life and it must be acc0untable to a Ministry of Arts and a new democratic Scottish Parliament.

What are Wildcat going to do? We are going to tour The Gun from October 9 to November 22 Some people will love it and some Will not. Not everyone shares our tastes. The SAC ShOuld not demand that everyone shares theirs.

David MacLennan

Artistic Director

Wildcat Stage Productions

Moffat Street, Glasgow

Sexism and racism

WITH REFERENCE TO your Referendum feature (issue 314), which included quotes from 'some of Scotland's high- profile voters’, I count twelve men and three women giving their opinions and they all look white to me. Have times changed so much that this kind of thing doesn’t matter any more? I think not. The List, in particular, should know better and has no excuse self- monitoring and awareness of sexism and racism is still essential in the 90s.

I hope you will pass my comments to your staff.

PS. I am one of Scotland’s very few women sound technicians and screenwriters; against a lot of odds. Becky Thomson The Biggins Dunblane

Tightening the


GIVEN THE RECENT epidemic of whingeing over cuts in various sections of the arts, I thought it might be helpful to point to the example of the Central Belt's grassroots music scene.

Both Glasgow and Edinburgh have thrivmg local band crrcurts which receive almost no public funding. Every night of the week unsigned bands play in both cities for free or for

a nominal door charge. These bands

put on concerts and often manage to

release singles and even albums under their own steam. Some of them lose money, some break even, some make money and some go on to become household names. All of them flourish or fail purely on how much they interest the general public.

Now I realise that taking the public into account is a novel idea when it comes to dispensing public funds, but surely audience figures are the only yardstick of merit. Perhaps the Arts Council would like to invest some money in the local music scene, a field of the arts that appeals to a much wider section of the community than theatre. Who knows, with a reasonable amount of funding they could help set up enough of an infrastructure to initiate a self- financing Scottish music scene, rather than pouring tax-payers’ money into the financial black hole we call the theatre.

Ben Dougal Marchmont Road Edinburgh

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6 THE LIST IO Oct-23 Oct 1997