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Scottish Screen a Review by the Scottish Executive


SCOTTISH SCREEN - A Review by the Scottish Executive


124. This chapter considers the merits of alternatives to Scottish Screen as the means of delivery of support for the Screen industries and screen culture in Scotland. These alternatives have developed out of the extended interviews and further discussions that have formed part of the review.

125. Three options are considered:

(a) Re-allocation of responsibilities and resources for support for film/screen arts from Scottish Screen to other existing support agencies: i.e. Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Enterprise.

(b) Extending Scottish Screen's remit to include either new media or all the creative industries.

(c) A radical option involving the creation of a new agency combining certain functions of Scottish Screen, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Arts Council.

Consideration is also given to the continuing status of Scottish Screen as an NDPB.


126. The existing core functions of Scottish Screen could be divided between Scottish Enterprise who would take over support for industrial development, and the SAC who would support the cultural and artistic.

127. Although this proposition has been identified as theoretically possible by a number of interviewees, there is no evidence of support for it either among the interviewees or within Scottish Enterprise or SAC. Indeed there was some argument against such a proposal on the following grounds:

  • the film/screen industry's intrinsic culture/industry duality cannot be avoided;

  • attempts in the past to divide its characteristics between agencies were rightly abandoned with the formation of Scottish Screen;

  • neither of the other bodies is currently able to provide for the particular development needs of the screen industries and screen culture in Scotland;

  • this would be widely seen as an abandonment of interest in Scottish film culture and industry;

  • the ground that Scottish Screen occupies lies between the commercial criteria of Scottish Enterprise and the artistic criteria of SAC; it involves areas of interaction with both, but is distinct;

  • the present functions of Scottish Screen are complex, interrelated, and dependent on a series of external relationships built over time. They also by design provide for a Scottish national screen agency to fit into a consistent wider UK and international pattern of arrangements for support and development of screen industries and culture that benefits the industries.

128. These arguments are significant and given the current structures of Scottish Enterprise and SAC cannot easily be overcome. However, there is greater affinity with the Scottish Arts Council. Most significantly there is no guarantee that were Ministers to follow this route the growth and development of the film industry or culture would proceed more successfully than at present. No greater resource or priority is likely to follow - the converse is more likely. On the converse, for them to turn their back on a separate screen agency would be widely interpreted as abandoning the screen industries as an area of Executive interest.


129. There has been much debate about how Scottish Screen should respond to the challenges and opportunities for cross platform screen production presented by converging technologies. Should it extend its historic concern beyond film and film culture to put increased emphasis on new media?

130. A national screen agency must understand and operate within the reality of a fast-changing technical and commercial environment. The historic core interest group of Scottish Screen, the film makers, are certainly aware that there are implications for them that are both threats and opportunities. Production for a range of platforms presents opportunities for business growth and increased stability which could help to underwrite the inherent risks in film making.

131. Creatively, the opportunities to work across platforms will encourage experimental work and new manifestations of collaboration between the creative skills. Storytelling using interactive technology may well find its way into film making, and the narrative and visual skills of film makers will probably inform the development of educational interactive software and games development.

132. These developments and opportunities present Scottish Screen with a considerable challenge - some voices prophesy the end of film making as it is currently understood. More commercially viable attractions of other screen 'products' that are easier to finance and quicker to produce may replace narrative film. It is here that the tension between the commercial and the cultural criteria to be applied becomes evident. The computer games sector is a success story for Scotland. It makes use of many areas of skill and expertise relevant to the screen industry. It would, however, be hard to find a cultural criterion on which support from public funds could be based. To be fair the sector has never sought such support.

133. The point, however, is that Scottish Screen's activities have a relevance and significance outside the general approach to the commercial development of the digital media. While new media has a significant implication for film making and Scottish Screen should take this into account, it is difficult to see a case for expanding their role to include exclusive responsibility for the creative industries or new media without reconfiguring other agencies' responsibilities. While Scottish Enterprise supports the games industry in a number of ways because it is high growth and has good access to its markets, it also supports a range of creative industries companies through joint music and publishing schemes run with the Scottish Arts Council, and production companies through the joint Scottish Screen scheme. The Enterprise network also offers a wide range of services and support to creative industries companies either through account management or the provision of advice, or through the development of physical projects or major support mechanisms like GFO and the Cultural Enterprises Unit.


134. This option extends the previous option by starting from the suggestion that the development needs across the creative industries are largely similar. It also takes into account that there is a wider concern about creativity in the economy and that there is a task to be undertaken to develop a stronger policy base for understanding and supporting this in interaction with the creative industries. Policy for development of the screen industry could form part of this.
This new responsibility might be given to a wholly new agency - Creative Scotland - whose remit would contain part of the present remits of Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen. Its role would be to foster the conditions for success and the development of new work in all sectors of the creative industries including film.

135. The development of this approach would recognise that the SAC's role as a development agency in the arts can increasingly be differentiated from its role as a funding organisation.

136. A new agency might bring about a less bureaucratically-complex machinery and allow for joint working. The limits of these at present represent lost opportunities to those in the sector and the wider cultural and economic success of Scotland. Support for film might both activate and utilise access to all the connections and resources that fuel it, for the development of the Scottish film industry and film culture, and feed into 'Creative Scotland's collective energy to develop the whole environment for the arts and creative industries in Scotland. The membership of a 'Creative Scotland' at Board and officer level could command the energy and leadership of the most talented and creative in Scotland across all sectors and in a contemporary and international context.

137. Advice to Ministers and contribution to policy making at Scottish Executive level would be informed by the best knowledge and experience available, it would not be sectoral and the cultural, creative and economic aspects could be brought together. The emphasis would be on enhancing the ability of creative enterprises across the cultural sector to move toward sustainability through business competence, quality of creative content, and wider opportunities for talent to be employed and nurtured. An objective would be for the cultural sector itself to mobilise its creative energy and assume greater responsibility for its own direction and development, and interventions could be targeted to contribute to that outcome.

138. A focus on enhancing sustainability and growth of creative enterprises should not ignore the necessary matching development of a cultural climate supportive of creativity and creative achievement or the importance of culture and creativity to Scotland's economic and social future. Integrated strategies for audience/market development, education at all levels, access to training, guidance, participation, and international outlook would involve partnership, linkage, and co-ordination between existing initiatives, connecting frameworks, and statutory, voluntary and private agencies.

139. There could be considerable potential in a new agency to take the strategic lead in this area. However, as it is set out here it is far from developed. Considerable exploration and consultation would be required to make it a reality. A major concern would be how creative risk taking and support for innovation would be properly balanced by business disciplines.

140. Less radical approaches might involve the development of more integrated joint initiatives between the existing key bodies which address agreed issues for development, which may be those listed above and others. The emphasis would be on enabling true joint action, with jointly agreed outcomes, indicators and targets, joint systems for the collection of evidence to provide for evaluation of impact, and the means to correlate cultural, social, and economic measures to an assessment of effectiveness against joined up Executive policy objectives. There is a role for the Executive and Ministers in leading this process.


141. Consideration has also been given to whether the functions of Scottish Screen should be undertaken by a NDPB.

142. Different considerations attach to different parts of the remit. For example there is no need for the training functions to be undertaken by an NDPB - an independent provider or a FE College might more appropriately take over this role. Similarly if a key part of the role is supporting productions and bringing people together as a quasi-executive producer, this might be franchised to an experienced operator on a 5-7 yearly basis.

143. Removal of an identified Screen Agency would leave a policy vacuum and would be interpreted as reduction of political support and interest in the industry. On the other hand such an option need not be associated with reduced resources. That freedom from Ministerial controls would enable the organisation to become more responsive and pro-active.

144. The most significant argument against taking this option is the implications that it would have for the distribution of lottery funds. These are the essential resource that the production support function draws on and their allocation to anything other than a NDPB would be insuperable. Reallocation of lottery funds to SAC would be possible but would remove the resource entirely from this new unit who would not be able to operate.

145. If the functions are to be continued, and this review comes to the conclusion that they should be continued, the current status as an NDPB remains appropriate.


146. It is appropriate that the functions carried out by Scottish Screen continue to be carried out by a body with NDPB status. No compelling case has been identified for allocating the responsibilities among other existing organisations. The remit of Scottish Screen should not be expanded to include wider responsibilities for the Creative industries.

147. Scottish Executive policy in the creative industries is not fully developed. Nevertheless it is clear that any developed policy approach will depend on the contributions of a number of agencies including Scottish Screen, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Arts Council and the Higher Education Sector particularly. Creative businesses themselves and the broadcasters also have a role. Scottish Screen is not an appropriate agency to oversee that process or to take the primary role.

148. Ministers should address this issue. There are issues of definition in the sector, and there is little common agreement on the potential that this sector has for Scotland. The report identifies the possibility of a radical restructuring of support for the creative sector through the formation of a single agency (Creative Scotland) drawn from existing agencies. This is worthy of further consideration but is unlikely to be able to be delivered immediately without undue disruption. Nevertheless issues of overlap and definition with support mechanisms for the wider business community and the wider cultural sector must be addressed and opportunities for joint working between agencies must be developed further.

149. At this stage in the development of the understanding of the creative sector and its contribution to economic development, Scottish Ministers should work with the relevant agencies to establish a single policy framework which will provide the basis for them to seek further and enhanced opportunities to work in partnership in key areas, and will raise the profile and understanding of the creative industries within their overall planning and strategies.

150. Ministers may wish to explore further a radical option to restructure existing agencies - that would be a medium-term approach but some progress can be made on that through the joint working suggested elsewhere in this report.