Days after it received news that it would lose its regular funding from Creative Scotland, Glasgow’s storied artist-run space Transmission today issued a statement condemning the decision. The statement begins, “This withdrawal of support severely compromises the future of the gallery and comes at a devastating time given the recent demographics and aspirations of the space.”
“Transmission interprets this decision as discriminatory, conscious or otherwise, and indicative of a wider but pressing issue of institutional bias,” the statement adds later. “We understand our situation in a wider context of simultaneous cuts to disability-focused theatre and children’s theatre projects this year, following historic dismantling of grassroots and minority-led arts organisations across the UK.”
According to a-n News, which first reported the cuts, Creative Scotland, a public body that disperses funds to arts organizations throughout the country, allocated £210,000 (or about $299,700) for the 2015–18 operations of Transmission, which opened in 1983 and which has long been a cornerstone of Glasgow’s art scene.
Many involved in the arts, in both Glasgow and further afield, have criticized the dropping of funding for Transmission, which is among nearly two dozen arts groups in the country. Paul Thomson, of the Glasgow band Franz Ferdinand, called it “a dreadful decision,” as a-n News notes, and Matthew Higgs, who grew up in England and now runs the White Columns alternative space in New York, said that the decision “is both baffling and depressing” and described Transmission as “arguably the most important artist-run space in the UK” in a post on Instagram.
Given the uproar over some of its funding decisions, Creative Scotland has said that it will hold an emergency meeting next week, and said in a statement it has been “listening carefully to everything everyone is saying,” The Stage reports.
Transmission’s fiercely worded statement comes on the same day that two members of Creative Scotland’s board, Ruth Wishart and Maggie Kinloch, resigned, apparently in protest over not having enough time to make funding decisions, according to BBC News.
In its statement, Transmission notes that it has in recent years been involved in the “development of a coherent, progressive programme focused on issues of decolonisation, race, sexuality and gender with an understanding that change must be instituted beyond the public programme. Creative Scotland’s withdrawal of future funding comes at the first moment in Transmission’s history that it has been led by a committee of people of colour.”
Positioning the decision in the context of the conservative political and cultural climate in the U.K., it adds, “While perhaps not explicitly racist, queerphobic, etc, it could be inferred that Creative Scotland does not see the expressions of these communities in their active, unrefined, ungentrified forms as being valuable, or the timing of this decision to be particularly loaded, and thus acts from a position of institutional bias in which which racism, queerphobia and so forth emerge.”