Scottish Screen a Review by the Scottish Executive

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SCOTTISH SCREEN - A Review by the Scottish Executive

3 SCOTTISH SCREEN - BACKGROUND, REMIT AND OBJECTIVES

14. Scottish Screen was established in 1997 as the national body for the promotion of film culture and of the film and television industry in Scotland. It is a company limited by guarantee with the status of Executive NDPB. It is grant funded by the Scottish Executive who appoint all its members.

15. The formation of Scottish Screen brought together four previously existing bodies, the Scottish Film Council (SFC), the Scottish Film Production Fund (SFPF), Scottish Screen Locations (SSL), and Scottish Broadcast and Film Training Ltd. (SBFT). Grant in aid from the Scottish Executive in 2001/02 was 2.6m. In addition in 2000 Scottish Screen became the distributor for Lottery funds to film in Scotland, with responsibility for investment of 2.6m-3m each year. Scottish Screen has a staff complement of 45.

THE REASONS FOR SUPPORTING THE SCREEN INDUSTRY

16. The creation of Scottish Screen as a national screen agency reflects 2 underlying objectives. The first is to develop a sustainable production industry in Scotland; the second is to promote and nurture film culture. In combining these objectives in one agency a centre of knowledge and expertise on the screen industries would be established which would have positive impacts on both. Each of the objectives carries important implications and challenges.

17. The screen industries, and the wider creative industries, can and do play an important role in the attainment of cultural/economic objectives The creative industries in Scotland support over 70,000 high-quality, full-time jobs and contribute around 5 billion to GDP.

18. Within the creative industries, the screen industries (i.e. cinema, video, TV broadcasting, and new interactive media), occupy an important position.

19. There are significant commercial challenges in film production for cinema. In Scotland that potential is not yet adequately underpinned by a supporting infrastructure of mature production companies, investment in content and project development, nurturing of talent, physical facilities, marketing to the world, or financial risk sharing. Nonetheless, film production has the potential to be an influential and high profile promoter of contemporary Scottish culture in an international context.

20. More people today have access to shared narratives through the medium of the screen, whether cinema, video, TV, or new media, than by any other means. The screen industries therefore have impact on our shared cultural life and personal creative development. They are a powerful vehicle for the collective stories we tell, to ourselves and to the world. This gives rise to issues of access (both to the means of production and as audience), development of talent, creative education, technological skills, and the development of infrastructure implicit in the recognition of this common cultural language.

MANAGEMENT STATEMENT

21. In this context, the underlying objective of the then Scottish Office in forming Scottish Screen was to establish a greater profile for the industry in Scotland with a view to increasing the level of activity and impact on both domestic and world markets. The functions required of Scottish Screen by the Executive are set out in the following extract from the Management Statement of 1997, updated in 1999 following devolution:

"The Board (of Scottish Screen) is established to encourage the development of the screen arts (which include television and new media related to film and television) in Scotland and has the following functions:

I. to develop and implement a strategy for the growth of the screen (film, television and related media) industry in Scotland;

II. to promote Scotland as a location for film-making;

III. to stimulate and promote interest in and access to film in Scotland;

IV. to preserve and make available Scotland's film and television heritage; and

V. to advise the Scottish Ministers on any matters relating to the screen arts."

22. The Management Statement also identifies a set of more detailed aims:

"The Scottish Ministers expect the Board to pursue the following aims in the discharge of its functions:

I. to encourage and support the development and production of locally based films for cinema and television release;

II. to work actively with the Enterprise Network, local authorities and other bodies to secure the infrastructure to meet the current and future business needs of the screen industry in Scotland;

III. to deliver services to the screen industry in Scotland that represent good value for the input of public funds;

IV. to distribute National Lottery funds for film production in Scotland, advise the Scottish Arts Council on capital funding for film-related projects, and to help arrange for private capital to be attracted to film-making and other film-related projects in Scotland;

V. to promote the awareness of and the use of Scottish locations for filming and photography, including television, by film-makers and photographers, whether based in Scotland or elsewhere;

VI. to assist in the promotion of Scottish talent and local support services and in the effective marketing of Scottish-produced film and television products;

VII. to ensure that the training needs of the screen industry, including those of the broadcasters, independents and new entrants, are met most effectively;

VIII. to encourage access to, study of and understanding of the screen arts, working with education authorities, schools, colleges and universities;

IX. to promote and, where appropriate, provide financial support for access in all regions of Scotland to film exhibition facilities with a high standard of viewing exhibiting a wide range of films; and

X. to preserve and to make available for public access, public exhibition and broadcast the archive film and other screen industry heritage of Scotland."

23. In addition, as a distributor of Lottery funds, Scottish Screen is required to act in accordance the direction under section 26 (1) of the National Lottery etc. Act 1993. This is in the same terms as that issued to the UK Film Council by DCMS. The full direction is at Annex A. It identifies a range of factors for Scottish Screen to take into account including the need to foster within Scotland the development of a sustainable film industry as a part of a healthy film culture in the UK. It also identifies the strategic goals of attracting more private finance into film and improving the quality of Scottish films and raising their profile in the marketplace. Scottish Screen is also required to take account of issues of access across Scotland and the development of talent.

THE WIDER POLICY CONTEXT

24. Scottish Screen also requires to take general account of the wider policy context of the Scottish Executive. The National Cultural Strategy ( Creating Our Future - Minding Our Past. - Scotland's National Cultural Strategy) and the economic strategy are particularly relevant. The National Cultural Strategy, published in August 2000, set out four strategic objectives:

  • Promote creativity, the arts, and other cultural activity

  • Celebrate Scotland's cultural heritage in its full diversity

  • Realise culture's potential contribution to education, promoting inclusion and enhancing people's quality of life

  • Assure an effective national support framework for culture

25. This framework will guide the future allocation of funding by the Executive to the cultural sector. The strategy identifies specific actions in relation to the screen sector and the creative industries e.g. 'The Executive's review of Scottish Screen will consider whether present organisational arrangements are best fitted to the needs of the creative industries.' Its general emphasis on widening access and education is also clear. It is clear also that the Executive wishes to maximise the economic contribution of the cultural sector more widely and the approach to film and screen is significant in this context.

26. The Scottish Executive's economic strategy is also significant. The Framework for Economic Development in Scotland (June 2000) focuses on four outcomes:

  • accelerated growth through international competitiveness;

  • all regions of Scotland contribute and benefit;

  • all in society contribute and benefit;

  • development is sustainable so that future generations are considered.

The Executive's objective is to ensure the correct economic conditions and policies which stimulate high and sustainable levels of growth, rather than look to retain or create a specific economic structure. The Executive has an important role to play through:

  • contributing to the development of the economic infrastructure;

  • supporting enterprises where the circumstances of the market place are such that intervention is necessary;

  • promoting social and regional development and sustainability.

28. ' Smart Successful Scotland' published in January 2001 set out a strategy to underpin how the Enterprise Networks could contribute to improving the competitiveness and productivity of the Scottish economy. It identified a number of areas where there were particular challenges, including a weakness in entrepreneurship, the need for the right creative skills, and the importance of digital communications in the future economy. Against that background ' Smart Successful Scotland' sought to identify the key aspects of the economy which the public sector should seek to influence in order to drive further improvements in productivity and pointed to creating, connecting, and learning faster as the basis for sustained growth in prosperity.

COMMENT

29. The statements of role and function are diverse and extensive, reflecting some of the background functions of the bodies absorbed into Scottish Screen and also the aspirations of the Scottish Office as it then was in establishing the new body. The description of the management aims clearly identify the role in terms of supporting and development of production in Scotland; it may be that this aspect of the role is emphasised by comparison with the cultural role of widening understanding of the screen arts. Nonetheless, funding comes from the Executive's cultural budget.

30. The aims and functions set for Scottish Screen in the management directives from the Executive are not, at present, sufficiently defined or specifically linked to Executive policy objectives or priorities. This does not permit authoritative benchmarks against which to assess the effectiveness of Scottish Screen. The internal aims of the organisation and the external objectives set for it in the Executive management directives display some mis-match and the 'fit' varies from one goal to another. There is an immediate need to clarify and define Executive objectives, targets, and priorities with the organisation and provide clear guidance about the policy framework within which they are expected to deliver.

31. Beyond these general statements of function, the Executive has given Scottish Screen no specific objectives or instructions and, as an arm's length organisation, it has been for the Board itself to determine the balance of priorities in its approach to fulfilling its remit within the resources made available to it.

SCOTTISH SCREEN'S CORPORATE PLAN PRIORITIES

32. Scottish Screen has determined its own strategic priorities in relation to this policy context, basing its planning and delivery on what it describes as its '7 pillars'.

  • Develop World Class Production Businesses In Scotland

  • Attract Major Productions To Scotland

  • Champion A Culture Of Investment In The Screen Industries

  • Nurture And Develop Talent And Audiences

  • Preserve And Present Scottish Screen Production

  • Encourage And Support An International Outlook

  • Drive Screen Policy From School To Statute

33. These first appeared in Scottish Screen's Annual Review Report of 1999/2000 and were used there to structure discussion of its work. There is no clear indication of how they came about, of what consultation was undertaken to produce them, or of how they connect specifically to the objectives of the Management Statement and Lottery Directive described above.

CONCLUSION

34. The terms of reference for this review explicitly locate the screen industries within the creative industries and reflect Ministers' concerns to ensure the realistic development of viable and sustainable industrial and commercial frameworks for film making in Scotland. The criteria for identifying success in that objective are still uncertain and it must be recognised that this takes place in a UK context and an international marketplace for product and talent.

35. Ministers have other concerns beyond the strictly economic. Film is a powerful medium for presenting images of Scotland to an international audience. Scottish Screen's remit also includes significant cultural responsibilities and activities which are reflected in the Management Statement and the Lottery Direction. This review has also considered Scottish Screen's performance in this respect and in relation to the National Cultural Strategy. Those cultural roles remain important and the screen archive and the regional film theatre network are significant parts of Scotland's cultural infrastructure.

36. The management statement is a very broad guide to Scottish Screen's functions. Ministers should examine it and consider revising it to ensure that it reflects their priorities and provides a clear basis for performance indicators.