Open Letter to Creative Scotland - Lammermuir Festival
Letter from supporters of Lammermuir Festival
To Iain Munro, Chief Executive of Creative Scotland and its Chair, Robert Wilson,
We the undersigned appeal to you to save what one audience member has described as a ‘precious jewel of originality and joy’.
According to the panels judging Open Fund applications at Creative Scotland, Lammermuir Festival does not sufficiently align to your priorities, especially around Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
This is despite having the full support of the Music Officers at Creative Scotland who approved its application and strongly recommended funding without conditions.
This is one of the most acclaimed classical music festivals in the UK, recipient of an RPS award, the highest accolade in its field, and giving work to 350 musicians a year, many of them Scottish. It has a proven record of achievement, appeals to ever-growing audiences and supports performers at all stages in their careers.
It is also a festival which returns £750,000 in economic benefits for East Lothian, on top of its social and cultural benefits, bringing visitors to a region which is underserved for arts, offering audiences international quality music performances and participation opportunities.
If the festival were to not exist, neither would its work with McOpera which engaged 1,700 children, young people and adults as participants and audience through their outreach strand over the last two years. This proved a formative part of so many young musicians’ lives in East Lothian.
This strand of the festival’s work reached out to multiple and diverse local community groups, nurturing children and young people from across 31 different schools, supporting the growth of an Instrumental Music Service and creative organisations (such as Dunbar Voices), bringing to the region international conductors and Scottish creatives, composers, singers and instrumentalists. It has also regularly provided career placements to students from Edinburgh College, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh and Edinburgh Napier Universities, National Youth Orchestra of Scotland and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
This decision by Creative Scotland flies in the face of the expressions of support for culture in Scotland, and in particular for festivals, that the First Minister, Neil Gray and Angus Robertson have made in recent days.
The Open Fund process appears to have no strategic overview of provision, and no clear artistic, quality or geographic priorities.
Your process places huge pressure on organisations. Lammermuir Festival was invited to make multiple applications for the same activity with funding decisions taking their nerves to the wire – in this case Creative Scotland passed their verdict on a third application just 16 days before the festival started.
The system needs to change. As it stands it places Scotland’s cultural ecology on a downward trajectory.
Without Creative Scotland’s support the Lammermuir Festival’s future is under threat. Your decision not to fund the 2023 festival, destablises the organisation and undermines the festival’s ability to plan for or run a festival in 2024 and beyond. In order to secure the future of this festival beyond 2023, urgent support is needed.
As musicians, educators, audience members, supporters, participants, businesses in East Lothian, and community leaders we are utterly appalled at your decision and urgently appeal to Creative Scotland to reverse it in order to save this cultural gem.
This festival cannot be allowed to disappear.
Signatories: Please consider signing. You can do so here
Thank you! Your support means a huge amount to us!
First Minister Humza Yousaf
Cabinet Secretary Angus Robertson
Minister of Culture Christina McKelvie
Minister of Fair Work Neil Gray