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by Margaret Taylor
14 March 2024
Creative Scotland pulls funding from explicit film project

Culture secretary Angus Robertson said the project should not have been funded | Alamy

Creative Scotland pulls funding from explicit film project

Arts agency Creative Scotland has withdrawn funding from controversial film project Rein after facing a backlash about its explicit nature.

The organisation, which is funded by the Scottish Government and effectively distributes money to arts organisations on its behalf, had agreed to award almost £85,000 for the development of a 45-minute film by director Leonie Rae Gasson that was initially presented as “an exploration of dyke sexuality”.

Over the weekend it emerged that the film would be more explicit than originally thought, with the project seeking participants to engage in "non-simulated" sex and "hardcore" acts.

Following an outcry, culture secretary Angus Robertson told parliament earlier this week that Rein should not have received public money and that he “share[d] the concerns that have been raised”.

Creative Scotland has today released a statement saying it has decided to withdraw support from Rein and will be “seeking recovery of funding paid in respect of this award to date”.

“What has emerged in the latest phase of the project represents a breach of the conditions of funding award, as the nature of the project has changed,” the statement said.

“The central role that ‘non-simulated’ (ie real) sex acts now play in the project marks a significant change to the nature of the work presented in the original application which was assessed for funding.

“This significant change to the nature of the work has been evidenced in the most recent announcement on the project’s website, without the agreement of Creative Scotland.”

Organisations funded by Creative Scotland have complained about the tight funding regime they have been operating in in recent years, with those eligible for repeat funding seeing their annual awards held steady since before the pandemic.

Creative Scotland has also warned that, due to confusion over its long-term funding settlement from the Scottish Government, it may have to reduce the number of organisations it provides support to.

First Minister Humza Yousaf promised £100m of additional funding for the sector at the SNP conference last October, but that came after the government cut £6.6m from Creative Scotland’s budget in December 2022 before reinstating that sum in February 2023 and cutting it again last September.

In its 2024-25 budget the government delivered a small proportion of the £100m, with its allocation of £68m representing a rise of £13m on the £55m awarded in the current year.

In its statement on Rein, Creative Scotland noted that it seeks to “push creative boundaries” in the way it allocates that cash but that projects must represent an appropriate use of public funds and must not be varied after an award has been agreed.

“Creative Scotland makes in the region of 2,000 funding awards each year. We support artists and projects across all art-forms, some of which are challenging in content, and push creative and social boundaries,” it said.

“However, Creative Scotland has important responsibilities to the public for the appropriate use of public funding, and, as recipients of that public funding, award recipients also have legal responsibilities as reflected in their funding contract.”

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