I attended the ITC/FST reception the other night where the head of Creative Scotland Andrew Dixon gave a speech. He spoke about the fantastic effect that 'Made in Scotland' branding had had on local theatremakers. There has always been plenty of Scottish theatre in the festival, but by drawing attention to high quality examples of it 'Made in Scotland' has created an exciting snapshot of the sector in Scotland. It serves as a stamp of quality and as a celebration of modern Scottish culture.
The same could be said of The Arts Council's Escalator East to Edinburgh scheme which supports artists from the East of England. We are very privileged to be part of this scheme this year, which has seen more promoters than ever before in our audience. Again the scheme draws together a group of artists and provides a stamp of quality. I think I may be too closely tied to the Eastern region to see what working in the East produces in terms of common culture, but I'm sure there are many similarities in style and methods which come from shared geography.
Andrew Dixon did make a very interesting comment though about the case that is being made in Scotland by artists, Creative Scotland and other organisations in relation to impending arts funding cuts. He spoke positively about recent acknowlegdments from Scottish politicians of the importance of the arts to Scotland's cultural, social and economic life. Of course there will be cuts, but hopefully with a respect for the sector in mind.
I have to say as an English artist that I don't feel so positive or safe. Unfortunately national pride is not big in England, I'm sure that this is directly related to the problems that English artists encounter when trying to make the case for arts funding. You only have to look on the response board of a blog which mentions funding to see that there are a good number of English people who are just not getting it. I've always found this baffling, as the main attribute that binds us together seems to be our love of moaning about our lack of national pride. How about this year on St. George's day instead of campaigning for a day off work to drink beer, we take a snapshot of English culture and campaign for a 'Made in England' scheme instead?