SCOTTISH Labour leader Anas Sarwar has highlighted The Herald’s campaign to secure a fair funding deal for Glasgow’s culture and leisure services at Holyrood.
The campaign has taken a major step forward after the Glasgow MSP raised a motion at the Scottish Parliament in support of our A Fair Deal for Glasgow drive, which is calling on both the Scottish and UK governments to consider a new path to fund critical services that have been severely impacted during lockdown.
The Herald launched A Fair Deal for Glasgow campaign in June calling for agreement on a new funding deal for Glasgow’s assets and venues of national and international significance. It has gained support widespread support from politicians and academics.
We are also seeking commitment from both Scottish and UK governments to work with the city to achieve this and Glasgow’s cultural assets and collections of national and international significance are recognised and funded at national level.
Charitable organisation Glasgow Life, which runs culture and leisure on behalf of Glasgow City Council, lost £38 million last year due to lockdown and its estimated income for 2021/22 is around £6.4m. An agreed council funding deal will see Glasgow Life receive a guaranteed £100m for the next four years to open 90 out of its 171 venues. Without further funding, it says it cannot reopen any more venues.
Our funding call comes at a time when around 500 jobs will go at the organisation over a five-year period.
Mr Sarwar’s motion urges the Scottish Parliament to welcome the launch of The Herald campaign, A Fair Deal for Glasgow, which calls on the city’s arts, culture and leisure venues to be properly funded and supported.
His motion adds that there is an understanding that Glasgow’s cultural venues, such as the Kelvingrove and the Riverside museums, run on just over £12m of support for their 4.4 million annual visitors, while the National Museums of Scotland and the National Galleries of Scotland, which attract 3.2 million and 2.4 million annual visitors, have budgets of £22.4m and £21.2m respectively.
While more than 90 of Glasgow Life’s 171 venues have reopened without further funding, it cannot reopen any further sites. The motion reflects this as it also asks that the Parliament notes what it sees as the threat to more than 80 venues in the city due to insufficient funding and the risk to over 500 jobs at these venues. It also calls on the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council to come together to deliver a sustainable funding plan for Glasgow’s cultural and leisure venues, which will safeguard jobs and the attractions for future generations.
Mr Sarwar offered his support following our campaign launch, saying: “SNP austerity and the failure of Susan Aitken’s Glasgow administration means we face a situation where the people of my home city will be denied access to their own cultural heritage.”
Our campaign has been supported by various sectors involved in building a vibrant city. Scottish Event Campus chief executive Peter Duthie, who backed the campaign, said the success of Glasgow is crucial to the success of Scotland.
“It is easy to say that resources should be spread evenly across the country, but there is a critical mass impact of levels of investment in Glasgow and Edinburgh across that Central Belt that help deliver massive value across the whole of the country,” said Mr Duthie.
While Glasgow Airport operations director Ronald Leitch said: “When the city does well the airport does well, that is how close we are.”
Donald Martin, Editor of The Herald, said the Parliament motion was an important step in our bid to raise awareness of the financial crisis faced by Glasgow Life and garner support.
Mr Martin said: “This is a crucial development in our campaign to secure A Fair Deal for Glasgow.
“We appreciate Mr Sarwar’s support and hope the motion will be backed by politicians from all parties to allow it to progress at the Scottish Parliament.”