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by Kirsteen Paterson
28 March 2024
Scottish Government 'considering support' for Aye Write book festival in new Creative Scotland row

First Minister Humza Yousaf | Alamy

Scottish Government 'considering support' for Aye Write book festival in new Creative Scotland row

The Scottish Government could offer a lifeline to shelved book festival Aye Write, it has emerged.

First Minister Humza Yousaf has said the SNP-Green government is looking at "potential support" for the Glasgow literary event, which is now in its 19th year.

Run by council culture body Glasgow Life, the event was set to run within weeks.

However, organisers said it could not go ahead after national arts funding body Creative Scotland turned down their bid for £77,500.

The news prompted dismay from authors, publishers and readers and has raised further questions about the way Scotland's cash-poor cultural sector is financed.

At First Minister's Questions, Yousaf, who represents Glasgow Pollok, said: "Aye Write is a fantastic festival. Anybody that has had the pleasure of being able to attend this event in the past knows the value that it brings not just to the city, but indeed I would suggest to the country as a whole."

He went on: "These decisions are for Creative Scotland to make and to make them independently of Scottish Government ministers. Nonetheless, of course, having been alerted to the news, we'll look at what potential support the Scottish Government can provide."

Glasgow Tory MSP Annie Wells asked Yousaf to "clarify Creative Scotland's prioritisation process in cultural funding decisions" and set out "what steps the Scottish Government are taking to safeguard the diversity and vibrancy of Glasgow's cultural landscape".

Yousaf said: "Aye Write is a fantastic festival and I would say it's something of a cultural icon, an institution within our festival and cultural landscape, so I will examine the issue."

The row follows outcry over Creative Scotland's decision to give £85,000 in funding to "explicit" film Rein. It cancelled the grant after it emerged that the project would include "non-simulated" sex. 

Culture secretary Angus Robertson was questioned about the decision by MPs and MSPs and said it should not have recieved the award.

Glasgow Life told Holyrood it recieved news that the funding bid had failed on March 5. A spokewoman said: "Since then, we have been doing all that we can to use the funding we do have available to formulate a limited programme of content, by creating a small series of pop-up events, which will enable us to retain the festival brand this year. We recognise how important Aye Write is to our audiences and how much the experiences its events offer are valued by and benefit attendees.

"While we have continued to make every effort to assess alternative funding routes for the festivals, funding application processes are complex and time-consuming – as well as very challenging in the current economic climate. We therefore recognised it would not be feasible to secure the level of support needed to stage a full festival programme this year.

"As we have said, we are also preparing an application for multi-year funding from Creative Scotland, starting in 2025, and obviously if there any organisations or individuals who would be interested in supporting the festivals financially, we would of course be pleased to hear from them."

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