Archive for July, 2017

‘An important message about the arts’ – an animated video by artist David Shrigley from 2010

Sir Humphrey and Jim Hacker discuss art subsidies

Scottish Pop Music Exhibition Centre + Scottish music’s infrastructure

First of all can I say the cost of reaching this point has been too high. Had I known it would take this long and cost so much I wouldn’t have done it. Having said that all the people I spoke to who had had a similar idea to archive and preserve in some way the fantastic history of Scottish popular music had never even started due to lack of funding so I’m proud that I’ve got to where we are. In the arts world a good idea always plays second fiddle to funding !

What is frustrating is that the idea was really perfect in its timing two years ago and yet those who could have helped didn’t. What I didn’t realise was when I spoke to Creative Scotland about sending some of Avalanche’s best selling Scottish albums worldwide to shops I knew would be supportive as well as having special sections in UK shops that was exactly what was being recommended in the independent report. Setting up distribution to back this up was something that was accepted at the time as being extremely useful but little did I know it again featured in the report along with manufacture. Sadly they had felt they couldn’t help. 

Now with dowloads and streaming coming to the fore it has been felt more recently that manufacture might not be an issue in the future but there is a concern that Creative Scotland will feel the same way about retail and that would be huge mistake. There have been many reports that have shown that if you put good music in front of people they will buy it. The issue with record shops was people stopped visiting and I had always maintained that other avenues such as cafes and cultural venues should be considered. Here of course Creative Scotland should have some influence and yet have done nothing to make sure that the music of the artists they support has a beter chance to reach people than the black hole that is available online.

Now of course record shops have had a resurgence along with vinyl but new music is actually struggling more than ever as sales go to the latest reissued albums. However marketed properly in the right places it would still be possible to break new music in conjunction with social media and promotion. What Creative Scotland needs and is not mentioned in reports is in-house promotion for artists. When it does give artists funding they waste large sums of money paying English PR companies to do a job that at best is average and at worst is no better than the artist could have done themselves. Amazingly social media is something that is poorly handled from all sides. Again so much more could be done.

Going back to the centre which of course could incorporate many of the things identified as being needed there has been without doubt a large amount of snobbishness as to the place of pop music in Scotland’s history. I have to thank the Fruitmarket Gallery both for the opportunity they gave to show what could be done and for adding credibility to the idea. Having said that it would be disingenuous of me given what I know to let these music elitists dig themselves into a hole I know they won’t be able to get out of. Suffice to say they wil be proved wrong ! 

Without a doubt there are decisions to be made and they will be made in the coming week.

A brief update on the Scottish music exhibition centre

I’ve finally recovered from the Fruitmarket Gallery exhibition and contemplating how everything can be moved forward. I had fairly relentless advice to not give up on Creative Scotland as the centre and exhibition should be exactly what they should be funding. Consequently I did have a close look at how their funding works with I have to say help from Creative Scotland themselves but it has raised far more questions than given answers. Having said that I’m now very clear on what the approach has to be and also what indeed needs to be done if music venues are to be supported in the same way theatres are now.

Finally getting the pop-up exhibition after waiting so long dealing with the City Art Centre it didn’t feel like winning but then it was never about winning. It wasn’t about beating the system and it certainly wasn’t about blaming people though a few people have delayed the idea by years. It was about showing it works and hopefully with a lot of help we did that.

While the council supports in theory I’ve yet to get any positive help officially and now a new administration is in place I’m waiting to hear what if anything they feel they can do. While I’ve been given lots of valuable advice, and as I say the exhibition was the result of many people’s help, I’ve yet to receive any firm offers of financial support or sponsorship and whatever happens with Creative Scotland that needs to be forthcoming. I must ask people to seriously consider what they can do to help with this. There will I know be even more positive news in the autumn for the centre but not only is it important to keep the momentum going but there has been so much interest in whether there wil be something for the Festival it would be a shame to let people down.

There were many more people I could have spoken to before the exhibition and thanks to the fantastic feedback even more afterwards. Ironically a bigger plan fits better within the Creative Scotland funding structure and there is clearly huge potential in the centre but that is all too far away and they will want to see other support anyway. This is not something that would be resolved by crowdfunding. This is something that is a fantastic oportunity to create goodwill to a business or for somebody with the wherewithal to see something very positive from their involvement. It could not have reached this point without a huge input of my own cash and time so I’m not asking for anything I haven’t done myself.  

I’m happy to discuss the opportunities that lie ahead privately and look forward to hearing from individuals and businesses alike. My email is

Once again can I thank everybody who helped make the exhibition happen and the 1,500+ people who came.

Creative Scotland funding for music

In the last figures given by Creative Scotland in their press release they said that £12.8M had been allocated to music and this represented 18.3% of their total allocation. I asked them how this broke down by genre and they said they couldn’t say but they did very quickly provide me with all the grants involved so the “rock & pop” figure could be extrapolated.

The first thing that is obvious is that a huge amount of money is tied up in Youth Music Initiative funding. Of the 230 grants made 101 were covered by the YMI including most of the largest amounts. This funding was never available to musicians so should really be removed from the figures in my opinion. My understanding is this money is allocated under direction rather than at the discretion of Creative Scotland.

When it was suggested I should look at these figures by an arts funding veteran I said I didn’t really have time. A week later another old hand to all this said it wouldn’t take ten minutes to see the inequalities that were present and he was certainly right. Much more of all that another time as I want to look into things further and give Creative Scotland a chance to respond. Suffice to say “rock and pop” artists receive considerably less than 1% of the funds allocated to music and in fact even if money given to Wide Days and funding the Great Escape is included it doesn’t reach 1%.

Here then for those asking are the “rock and pop” awards that were given.

Firstly Wide Days received £40,000 and Great Escape funding stretched to £9,150 plus Wide Days received £8,018 for the networking reception they orgaqnised. There was also £2,500 to Nothing Fver Happens Here at Sumerhall.


Be Charlotte £15,000   (South East Asia Territory launch)

Martha Ffion £10,560  (Debut album)

Modern Studies + Lomond Campbell  £10,000  (showcase performances)

Best Girl Athlete  £9,080   (Second album recording, production and promotion)

Mt. Doubt  £7,400   (2 EPs in 2017)

Bdy_Prts  £7,000   (Fly, Invisible Hero)

Youth of America (Simon Shaw)  £6,412    (Album recording, promo video and launch event)

Garden of Elks  £5,500   (Production of second record)

Pinact (Corrie Gillies)  £4,500   (Second album recording)

Honeyblood (Christina Tweedale)  £4,500   (US autumn tour 2016)

Roddy Woomble  £3,000   (Working title – miserable miracles)

Inkfields (Samuel James-Griffiths)  £1,700   (Third EP)

To put this in context the total here is easily less than half say of the £225K regular funding awarded to Enterprise Music Scotland  who “provide financial support to promoters and other constituted bodies promoting chamber music in their local area” among other chamber music related things.

The largest funding figure outwith YMI is for the Scottish Ensemble who received £333,333 as part of regular funding. their wikipedia page states

Scottish Ensemble is the UK’s only professional string orchestra. Founded in 1969 and based in Glasgow, Scottish Ensemble is built around a core of 12 string players who perform together under Artistic Director and violinist Jonathan Morton, standing up and without a conductor.

Now several of those rock and pop awards seem inadvisable to me and given Creative Scotland’s criteria I’m not even sure how they could be awarded but that really is nothing in the big picture of how funding is allocated. All of this is before we even get onto the milions being poured into theatres and the millions going to art galleries whose total visitor numbers for the year are less than one decent Scottish premier league football match. 

And there probably lies the nub of the problem. Yes football is not art but folk enjoy it and it very much has a value to the wellbeing of people. Rock and pop music as it has to be called has a huge value to people and at its best deserves to be compared to all the other art forms but a small and very influential minority dismiss it as not even worthy of consideration.

In a world where high rise blocks of flats are clad with inflammable material this may not be the biggest of scandals but given the enormous changes that have taken place in both people’s attitudes and access to information and entertainment via the internet since the lottery funding that lies at the heart of all this first started the current situation in which funding is made based on what a very small minority consider fitting can not carry on.