Would Scottish orchestras survive independence?

Would Scottish orchestras survive independence?


norman lebrecht

August 12, 2014

The Scottish National Party say yes (but they say that to everything).

Ken Walton, music critic of The Scotsman, fears for the survival of one orch in particular.

Read his argument here.



  • Gav says:

    can you seriously imagine a new independent scottish government (of whatever flavour) closing high profile and successful arts organisation? no – i dont think so either ….. ‘the scotsman’ is a strongly unionist newpaper …

  • Svend says:

    Ken Walton’s article concerns the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra – NOT ‘the Scottish orchestras’ as your headline sensationally claims. The RSNO and SCO and Scottish Opera Orchestra are directly funded by the Scottish Government already.

  • Malcolm James says:

    I cannot imagine that an independent Scotland would want the BBC as its main broadcaster. BBC Scotland would have to become completely independent and, whilst it currently produces a large number of programmes, it would have to cover all the current affairs etc which it currently takes from London.

  • Robert says:

    Get out of your “it’s a unionist paper so it must be wrong” mindset and read the article, Gav. He’s talking about the BBC Scottish orchestra which is not funded by government but by the BBC. The SNP wants to break up the BBC if the referendum goes their way, and create a new Scottish broadcasting company. But as the article says, a lot of the orchestra’s current funding comes from its broadcasting on BBC Radio 3. Where would that come from under the new regime, unless the plan is to start a Scottish classical music radio station? Scotland would no longer be in the UK but the SNP minister claims the orchestra would still get funding from R3 in London. You don’t need to be a ‘unionist’ to think that sounds illogical at the very least.

    • Gav says:

      As I said, any newly independent scottish government will not be in the business of closing down hugely successful arts organisations. if anything the arts is likely to flourish after a yes vote. sure – the BBCSSO could be re-named .. but it wouldn’t be closed down. the scotsman and most other papers want people to believe this back to the ‘stone age’ scare mongering. however, given the opinion polls independence is unlikely to happen!

      • Nick says:

        “any newly independent scottish government will not be in the business of closing down hugely successful arts organisations”

        Sorry Gav, but wasn’t it the present Scottish government’s predecessor, the independent Executive, that forced Scottish Opera, once one of the top European companies, to close for a year in 2005/6 and emasculated it thereafter by withdrawing substantial funds? It was the Executive which mandated the disbanding of the full-time chorus and the orchestra to become part-time. That action helped reduce one of the country’s flagship companies to a mere shell.

        As to the BBCSSO’s future, that debate has been going on for decades. Around 1970 the BBC produced a Policy Paper on the future of all its orchestras. Two or three were to be axed, including the BBCSSO. An eminently sensible attempt had been made to use it as the orchestra for some of Scottish Opera’s productions thereby reducing the BBC’s costs. The Opera’s continuing expansion at that time meant it had to find additional orchestral support since the SNO did not have more weeks. But the plan was killed by regulations, either those of the BBC or the Musician’s Union, which then required massive additional payments for work outside the studio. Public pressure, if I recall correctly, succeeded in getting the BBC’s decision reversed.

        On the other hand, I suppose, had the BBCSSO been able to forge an effective association with Scottish Opera, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra which was effectively founded by Sottish Opera might never have seen the light of day!

  • Scotscellist says:

    Finally there’s some proper writing in regards the viability of the sso. We all know there is no justification for a £5mil band in Scotland whose job can be done equally well if not better by the national arts company. The real question is; do they want to lose their jobs as a positive restructuring and review of the national arts companies with possible reemployment down south or integration with other orchestras, or lose their jobs as part of a brutal cut in beeb funding due to the charter review? Simple, my partner is a member of the orchestra, a yes vote it is!