With the Scottish Budget being announced on Tuesday 19 December, we are encouraged to see some funding being restored to the arts in Scotland. After Edinburgh Deaf Festival was denied funding for on two occasions by Creative Scotland, we hope this means more deaf-led projects will be fairly funded in the coming years.
Deaf Action’s Edinburgh Deaf Festival is just one of many to face challenges securing funding, prompting a collective effort from other organisations who support marginalised groups, including F-Bomb Theatre and Cutting Edge Theatre.
The standard response from Creative Scotland has been to point to Scottish Government budget cuts as the cause. However, we hope this recent financial injection is the first step towards restoring much needed funds to deaf-led projects within the arts.
Whilst we are hopeful of more funding being given to deaf arts in the future, a recent Freedom of Information request has exposed the reality of the situation. We learned that Creative Scotland currently award 0.4% of their budget to deaf-led projects. With 1 in 5 people in Scotland experiencing some degree of hearing loss, this is clearly inadequate, and shows that deaf people are not being treated equally. This is a significant discrepancy which demands attention and correction.
The data speaks volumes, highlighting an urgent need for better deaf awareness.
As set out in the BSL National plan, the Scottish Government wants to make the country the ‘best in the world for BSL users to live, work, visit and learn’. The government has also committed to working ‘with Creative Scotland to help embed BSL further within culture and the arts in Scotland’, yet this recent funding decisions means this cannot be achieved.
It simply isn’t good enough for deaf people in Scotland.
Given that Edinburgh Deaf Festival is unique in Scotland, and so completely meets the aspirations of the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland, we are at a loss to understand how the needs of the deaf community will be met, if not by us.
We are appealing to the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland to consider ring-fencing a portion of this replenished budget for support for BSL-led projects, including Edinburgh Deaf Festival. This call for a dedicated allocation is not just about numbers; it’s about recognising the importance of deaf representation, ensuring that the arts are truly inclusive.