In My Opinion: Janet Archer: Support for the TV industry an important part of Creative Scotland

This is an edited extract from a speech given on Friday August 23, at a networking event hosted by Creative Scotland at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival…

SUPPORT for the TV industry has been an important part of Creative Scotland’s work since we began three years ago.

We’ve partnered with independent producers to develop and support productions – such as the feature documentary, Everybody’s Child, by Gary Fraser for BBC; the latest, two-part instalment of Field of Blood, by Slate North for BBC; and the CBBC series, Katy Morag, from Move On Up Productions, which has just finished shooting in and around Stornoway.

We work with broadcasters in a range of partnerships.

This includes supporting Channel 4’s Alpha Programme, which created more opportunities for strong Scottish projects to be developed such as The Neglected, a short documentary from photo-journalist, David Gillanders, and Blackwatch Media, a powerful stills based moving image portrait of dispossessed street children in Ukraine.

We partnered with STV in the development of a range of projects which led to the acclaimed feature documentary commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster, Fire In The Night.

And we hold a wide-ranging partnership with the BBC rooted in shared intelligence and maximising support and exposure of Scottish creative output. Our work together include artists residencies, bringing BBC archive material to life, delivering a live streaming of Michael Clark’s Barrowlands project and a film as part of The Space project about NVA’s Speed of Light which saw hundreds of runners and audience lighting up Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh in a mass participation art work.

A project close on the horizon is the new high profile television series, Outlander. The advent of the High End TV Drama Tax credit is a welcome boost for TV production in the UK and has led to increased interest in Scotland. We are particularly delighted that Outlander has chosen to be located here and will be starting production in the next few weeks.

Alongside this kind of global project, we shouldn’t also forget the importance of the development of local TV. We think, through this, there is exciting potential for STV to offer new routes to the screen for artists and others making new kinds of broadcast content.

We are firmly committed to continue to work with independent producers, broadcasters and Scottish Enterprise towards the strengthening and sustainably of the television industry in Scotland.

There is a wealth of Scottish writing and performing talent in this country,

Creative Scotland wants to ensure that programme makers here can work with that talent base, and vice versa, even more closely in building our TV sector’s ability to increase its contribution to UK television and exports.

We need to take care of our three areas of responsibility – the arts, screen and creative industries – and their discreet development needs. However, I’m also keen to encourage different types of creative practitioners, artists and filmmakers to work more closely together – to share expertise and to create new ideas. I’m keen to encourage an environment where that can happen more often, creating real fizz and energy. I want Scotland to be a magnet for the best of the world’s artists and creative businesses while simultaneously being a springboard for Scottish talent to go out into the world.

Going forwards Creative Scotland is focusing on producing a new, long-term plan and associated funding programmes. These will go live in April next year.

Scotland has deep and rich seams of creative capital already but my instinct is that there are many more people out there with ideas and imagination who can add to this. Part of our role is finding ways of enabling this to happen and I am keen to work with partners, both public and private, to increase creative opportunities. Creative Scotland is only one part of the cultural landscape and we know that we can’t operate alone.

Janet Archer is chief executive of Creative Scotland.

Pic: Drew Farrell.