Cash in for pop £100,000 Arts Council funding for l’OCk music Words: Mark Robertson

Pop music and opera will go head to head in the battle for public subsidy thanks to a new Scottish Arts Council policy. In a pioneering move, the SAC has announced that all musical genres are eligible for funding.

Launched on 19 March, the council’s Contemporary Popular Music Policy states that funding for Scottish music should be broadened to include genres that were previously overlooked. In the last five years, the SAC gave only £24,000 to popular music. It has now set aside £100,000 for the sector in the next financial year. This money is part of the additional £15.2m package granted over three years to the SAC by the Scottish Executive in November to help implement the National Cultural Strategy (see issue 396).

Launching the policy at Glasgow’s Arches, Tessa Jackson, director of the SAC, said: ‘The policy is the result of months of debate and consultation between the council and industry figures. We hope that strengthening this sector in Scotland will allow more talented individuals and bands to stay in Scotland rather than feel they have to move to London.’

The commercial success of the popular music industry has traditionally weakened the case for subsidy. But three factors have influenced the SAC’s change of heart. Firstly, it has been stung by accusations of elitism, not least in the wake of the Scottish Opera funding saga. Secondly, it has responded to the Government’s desire for funding to be ‘socially inclusive’ (ie something

James Grant benefits from SAC cash

The policy was criticised by Brian Monteith, the Tory culture spokesman, who told The Scotsman: ‘By definition, pop music is part of popular culture and attracts significant commercial funding. We did not need Arts Council funding to create The Beatles.‘

His comments were branded ‘nonsense’ by Ronnie Gurr of the SAC’s music committee, citing Edinburgh’s Senator, a band that used SAC money to fund a recording trip to Chicago. The band has generated great interest from the recordings it made.

This is not the first time the SAC has funded popular music. Among the artists to have received funding in the past are Glasgow singer/songwriter Holly Tomas (£3,500 towards recording, distribution and promotion of an album), Horse McDonald (£1,500 for writing twelve songs) and James Grant (£3000 to record

‘We hope that strengthening this sector will 3"“ “3'93” 3 CD" "Wham

allow more bands to stay in Scotland rather than move to London.’ Tessa Jackson

for everyone). And thirdly, it has listened to arguments that for every globally successful band, there are thousands of musicians barely scraping a living.

Jackson said: ‘Our support for this area of music - which is often associated with a commercially successful industry - recognises that market forces can be very selective and can fail to provide support for experimental or

challenging work.’

We asked some of those involved in the Scottish music

SAC’s policy. Interviews: Lorna Tait

Rock, a community music resource in Royston, Glasgow received £217,929 of National Lottery funds for the refurbishment of its centre which enables local young people to make and record their own music.

Although the move to fund other music is significant, in numerical terms it is not quite as great. Of the £3m increase the SAC music department was given from the Scottish Executive, £1m is ear-marked for Scottish Opera, ten times the amount put aside for the

first year of popular music investment.

not just from a select group. The money goes into an innovative content of this new policy is scene What they thought 0' the encouraging, however we need to see this actually being implemented. The important issue over the next twelve months will be witnessing real action being taken. It's also a

initiative. Investment is always a good thing.‘

Bruce Finlay, Scottish music entrepreneur.

'The policy on contemporary popular music presents us with

‘I'm delighted to see the Scottish Arts Council at last supportive of contemporary Scottish music, in particular rock. pop and dance. and I hope that there is real Support from everyone there. and

step in the right direction in that the limited amounts of money that are available for the arts in Scotland will hopefully be distributed in smaller amounts to a greater number of projects.‘ Reachout Edinburgh-based hip hop artist who received suppOrt from the SAC to record his debut a/bum.

‘lt's hard to knock the recognition of the Arts Council that rock ‘n‘ roll is part of contemporary popular music. However it is part of an uncomfortable alliance as I'm not sure if the people of the Arts Council are in tune. It is the beginning of a potential relationship and I hope the

the opportunity to advance our artists to a level that would otherwise take years to achieve. Our artist Reachout performed at the award meeting on Monday. enhancmg the fact that the SAC is starting to support other genres of music. not just classical. The new scheme suppons tours. promoters. labels as well as musicians. which will encourage/help talent to work in Scotland rather than making that trip down south. With more diverse independent Scottish records labels springing up, it is good to see that they are not only being noticed but also supponedf

Geoff Ellis. DF Concerts.


THE SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE'S relationship with Scottish Opera has come under scrutiny once more, after claims by the shadow minister Michael Russell MSP that the provision of an extra £1.9m in grant aid in the current financial year and an additional £1m each year for the next three years had been handled in ‘what appears to be a rushed and irregular manner‘ in the final days of minister Sam Galbraith’s career in politics. Speaking to The List, Scottish Opera’s chief executive Christopher Barron said: ‘When I arrived last October we were still digging our way out of a financial hole.’ The new money, he said, put Scottish Opera ‘back on the straight and narrow.’ For more details, see Music, page 48.

THE JUDGEMENT ON THE LORD Advocates Reference relating to the trial and acquittal oi the ‘Trideht Three' Will be given in Edinburgh's High COuit of Justiciary on Friday 30 March at 10am. At issue !S the legality of the UK's Trident nuclear weapon system and the rights of Citizens to intervene to uphold international law. The peace coniiiiuiiih in Scotland wrll hold a Vlgll outside the High Court from 5pm on Thursday 29 March until the Judgement is de|i\.ei‘ed. HAVING SPONSORED T IN THE Park, T on the Fringe and the unsigned bands competition, T- Break, it was only a matter of time before Tennents branched out onto the internet. Its new website RedT brings together news on all its existing musical interests, with an extensive guide to live music and clubs throughout Scotland (courtesy of The List). Find out how to get ahead in the music biz, plan your week’s entertainment or post your own reviews at

EVER HEARD OF GRAVE ROBBERS: THE Mowe’? No? Well. the Dominion. Edinburgh is screening the capital-set film on Sunday 1 April, and tickets are gouig like fool's gold. Unsurprising perhaps. seeing as the film picked up awards at the recent small but Significant Paisley Film Festival. See revrew next issue.

29 Mar—12 Apr 2CD? THE LIST 5