A MOTION raised at Holyrood in support of The Herald’s campaign to secure a fairer funding deal for Glasgow’s cultural assets and attractions has received cross-party backing.
As reported in The Herald yesterday Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has put forward a motion calling on the Scottish Parliament to support our A Fair Deal for Glasgow drive, which is calling on both the Scottish and UK governments to agree a new funding deal after culture and leisure services were hit hard by the pandemic.
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, the arms-length council organisation says it cannot reopen any more venues.
The motion raise by Mr Sarwar has now received crucial cross-party support to help it progress to a further stage and spark a debate.
Scottish Conservative Glasgow MSP Annie Wells offered her support and said this has been a hugely worthwhile campaign from The Herald, while adding: “It should be a source of shame for the SNP Government that so many vital facilities and venues in Glasgow are under threat.
“The Scottish Conservatives have repeatedly called for a fair funding deal for our local authorities to be enshrined in law. For far too long, SNP Ministers have passed on huge cuts to our local authorities.
“We welcome all ideas, including this motion, to help pressure SNP Ministers into ensuring Glasgow City Council has the funding it needs to continue to deliver vital services for people across the city.”
Mr Sarwar’s 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.
We are 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.
Around 500 jobs will be cut back from Glasgow Life as a result of the financial crisis. However, the organisation has said the jobs will go over the next five years and will be through methods such as early retirement and voluntary redundancy.
It’s chief executive Dr Bridget McConnell last month said she fears even greater budget cuts could be looming next year.
Dr McConnell said Glasgow City Council is probably the biggest funder of culture and sport amongst all of Scotland’s local authorities, but even that funding, which is huge, is still less than five per cent of the council’s total budget.
She said conversations about the settlements that may be coming next year for local government, and because of the prioritisation of social care, education, and, understandably, environmental health, there might have to be an even bigger cut in their sector.
Scottish Labour MSP Paul Sweeney supported Mr Sarwar’s motion and said it was now time to come together to fight for Glasgow.
Mr Sweeney said: “Glasgow’s cultural, arts and leisure venues have been decimated in recent years due to disproportionate cuts imposed on the city by the Scottish Government, compounded by a supine SNP administration at Glasgow City Council more interested in party loyalty than the interests of Glaswegians. Rather than invest in our world-leading municipal assets they have cut them to the bone resulting in closures in many instances.
“The focus of these closures is often on museums and art galleries, the reality is that they are predominantly community centres, libraries and venues which serve as a lifeline to many Glaswegians. They are venues that bring local communities together, fostering a spirit of cohesion and togetherness – to watch them close will be devastating for so many.”
He added it was time for the people of Glasgow to come together regardless of political affiliation to send a message that they will not tolerate it any longer.
“The Herald’s Fair Deal for Glasgow campaign aims to do just that and it has my full support. I truly hope it results in Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government coming to their senses,” Mr Sweeney added.