Open Letter To Creative Scotland In Support Of Lammermuir Festival Signed By 362 Musicians, Composers, and More

The 2023 Festival came to a close this week while urgently working to secure its future.businesses

By: Sep. 22, 2023
Open Letter To Creative Scotland In Support Of Lammermuir Festival Signed By 362 Musicians, Composers, and More

The Lammermuir Festival closed its 14th festival earlier this week, one of its most successful yet. The programme was met with great acclaim cited by some music critics as the best programme presented. Audiences flocked with over 80% of tickets sold, over 30% of which were to new customers. Initial analysis indicates that a little over half of those audiences were local with the remaining travelling to East Lothian to enjoy one of the UK's best loved classical music events.

This successful edition was set against the backdrop of the festival finding out just days before it opened that Creative Scotland was not supporting its 14th festival, having invested in the event for thirteen years.

Losing the cultural funder's support this year leaves the festival in an urgent financial position, working hard to find a secure future.

Many of Scotland's leading musicians have lent their support to the festival's campaign, most recently Nicola Benedetti and Sir James MacMillan.

Nicola Benedetti said: “Being able to share the best, world-class music making with audiences not residing in our cities but in rural areas is a really important part of our nation's cultural fabric. An aspect we must support and nurture. The Lammermuir Festival has done this brilliantly over the last 14 festivals creating acclaimed events that also enable young artists to develop in the industry, and engage young people in the region to give them deep and extraordinary experiences. It would be tragic for Scotland's music scene if this festival wasn't supported to continue this work which benefits so many.”

An Open Letter to Creative Scotland has been signed by 362 musicians, composers, education workers, participants, supporters, audience members and local businesses including Steven Obsorne, Andrea Baker, Sean Shibe, Stuart MacRae, Dinis Sousa, Ryan Corbett, Sue Baxendale, Craig Hoy MSP, Douglas Alexander, Martin Brabbins, Sian Edwards, Ruth Ellis, Monica Wilkinson and Alfonso Leal del Ojo.

James Waters, Chief Executive and Joint Artistic Director of the Lammermuir Festival said: “The support and affection for Lammermuir Festival that we have seen pouring in from musicians, education providers, local businesses, supporters and audiences across Scotland and beyond has been incredible. We have never been more proud of the festival and what it brings to so many and we will continue to do everything we can to secure its future.”

Letter from supporters of Lammermuir Festival

To Iain Munro, Chief Executive of Creative Scotland and its Chair, Robert Wilson,

We the undersigned appeal to you to save what one audience member has described as a 'precious jewel of originality and joy'.

According to the panels judging Open Fund applications at Creative Scotland, Lammermuir Festival does not sufficiently align to your priorities.

This is despite having the full support of the Music Officers at Creative Scotland who approved its application and strongly recommended funding without conditions.

This is one of the most acclaimed classical music festivals in the UK, recipient of an RPS award, the highest accolade in its field, and giving work to 350 musicians a year, many of them Scottish. It has a proven record of achievement, appeals to ever-growing audiences and supports performers at all stages in their careers.

It is also a festival which returns £750,000 in economic benefits for East Lothian, on top of its social and cultural benefits, bringing visitors to a region which is underserved for arts, offering audiences international quality music performances and participation opportunities.

If the festival were to not exist, neither would its work with McOpera which engaged 1,700 children, young people and adults as participants and audience through their outreach strand over the last two years. This proved a formative part of so many young musicians' lives in East Lothian.

This strand of the festival's work reached out to multiple and diverse local community groups, nurturing children and young people from across 31 different schools, supporting the growth of an Instrumental Music Service and creative organisations (such as Dunbar Voices), bringing to the region international conductors and Scottish creatives, composers, singers and instrumentalists. It has also regularly provided career placements to students from Edinburgh College, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh and Edinburgh Napier Universities, National Youth Orchestra of Scotland and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. 

This decision by Creative Scotland flies in the face of the expressions of support for culture in Scotland, and in particular for festivals, that the First Minister Humza Yousaf, Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy Neil Gray, and Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Angus Robertson have made in recent days.

The Open Fund process appears to have no strategic overview of provision, and no clear artistic, quality or geographic priorities.

Your process places huge pressure on organisations. Lammermuir Festival was invited to make multiple applications for the same activity with funding decisions taking their nerves to the wire - in this case Creative Scotland passed their verdict on a third application just 16 days before the festival started.

The system needs to change. As it stands it places Scotland's cultural ecology on a downward trajectory.

Without Creative Scotland's support the Lammermuir Festival's future is under threat. Your decision not to fund the 2023 festival, destabilises the organisation and undermines the festival's ability to plan for or run a festival in 2024 and beyond. In order to secure the future of this festival beyond 2023, urgent support is needed.

As musicians, educators, audience members, supporters, participants, businesses in East Lothian, and community leaders we are utterly appalled at your decision and urgently appeal to Creative Scotland to reverse it in order to save this cultural gem.

This festival cannot be allowed to disappear.

362 signatures which can be viewed on the Lammermuir Festival website:


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