Pioneering Inverness-based Play Pieces Arts now faces a £14,500 shortfall needed to stage its season of sell-out lunchtime drama performances.
Director Lindsay Brown said “We are saddened that Creative Scotland has decided not to support what we and others believe is one of the most innovative and successful initiatives in the Highlands. We understand that there are limited funds at their disposal and difficult decisions need to be made but they are denying support towards significant cultural opportunities for artists and audiences in rural areas.”
This outcome will surprise many who believe the Play Pieces initiative is a perfect example of just what the Highlands have to offer and contribute to the wider Scottish Arts scene. Play Pieces was even heralded by The Scotsman's Joyce McMillan as 'one of the strongest signs of a cultural shift'. The organisation has already been successful in securing funds from private sponsors and other sources, but the Creative Scotland support was vital to completing the funding package.
Creative Scotland also delayed the funding decision, which they haven't been able to explain, losing the organisation a valuable 2 week window of opportunity for the Play Pieces team to salvage the season which now hangs in serious doubt, denying many Highland theatre makers probably the single most important opportunity of their career.
The body controversially gave £15,000 to a single artist to stay in Glasgow for one year to see how that affects her work, yet apparently don’t see the benefits of supporting 6 theatre companies and artists to create work and tour, in the Highlands. Creative Scotland also appear very supportive to regional promoters who want to programme work created by Central-belt companies, but to date have shown very little support for emerging original Theatre produced in the Highlands. Even their Producers Hubs are based outwith the Highland area.
“We already attracted new partnerships who want to work with us next year but for another year to go by without a Lunchtime Theatre Season in the Highlands, there is the potential risk of losing audiences, as well as funders, advertisers, sponsors and strategic artistic partners which we have spent years developing. It’s creating a huge cultural and regional disadvantage.” Lindsay explained.
Thanks to support from Bòrd na Gàidhlig, through funding from Creative Scotland, Play Pieces will have a lunchtime theatre event as part of Blas Festival. Hallaig by Robhanis Theatre Company from the Western Isles is the only production the organisation is able to confirm due to the shortfall in budget. Tickets for this event will go on sale 1 July and the Play Pieces team will try to find support for the rest of the Season to ensure that Highland audiences don’t miss out on new contemporary work by home-grown talent.