Scotland’s arts funding body Creative Scotland is under fire after the Lammermuir Festival revealed that it has been refused an award from its Open Fund for this year’s Festival.
In a robust statement, the chair of the Lammermuir trustees, Sir Muir Russell, outlined the threat to the future of an event that began in 2010 and was awarded a Royal Philharmonic Society Award in 2017. Displaying a candour that is unusual in Creative Scotland supplicants, the festival has outlined the lengthy and time-consuming process involved in the grant application, the encouragement it received to continue with it, the stated reasons for its rejection at previous stages, and the evident disagreement within Creative Scotland itself about the festival’s attainment of certain criteria.
With a model balance of income between box office (currently running at 80% of target), support from sponsors, benefactors and charitable trusts, and government money (with just 23% of its budget requested from Creative Scotland), Lammermuir is able to demonstrate a high level of engagement from local people as audience and participants in its community programme, as well as substantial economic benefit to East Lothian.
“To deliver this year’s Festival as planned – with what is already being acclaimed as an outstanding artistic programme – we shall be obliged to use a significant proportion of our reserves which we have judiciously built up over many years,” the statement continued. “Without Creative Scotland support the Lammermuir Festival’s future is under threat.”
As well as messages from participants in this year’s community opera, Catriona and the Dragon, the statement came with a long list of supporting quotes from prominent musicians, including Lammermuir’s Patron Steven Osborne, his fellow pianists Jeremy Denk, Danny Driver and Malcolm Martineau, violinists Elena Urioste and Maria Wloszczowska, accordionist Ryan Corbett and Maxwell Quartet cellist Duncan Strachan.
The statement concluded: “We urge Creative Scotland to reconsider their decision and secure the future of Lammermuir Festival. In order to make plans and commitments for 2024 and beyond we need the financial stability which Creative Scotland has provided over the past 13 years. We are determined to save the Lammermuir Festival for the future.”