Saturday, October 29, 2005

£517 PER GIG

The usually ill-advised mixing of public funds and music seems to have gone awry again; the problems often happen because politicians think the best way to encourage people to create music is to pay a bunch of "experts" to work on think-tanks, pathfinder schemes and enterprise bodies which have a far better track record of burning through cash than actually encouraging people to learn how to play the guitar.

Grief this time comes from Enterprise Music Scotland, a body into which has been pumped "hundreds of thousands of pounds" from the Scottish Arts Council and more cash from Aberdeen's City Council. (Alarmingly, a City Council spokesperson seemd to be unable to say how much). It seems a "five-figure sum" is alleged to have been pinched from this money; Chief Executive Ronnie Rae has resigned from, well, being chief executive, and EMS has been redirecting media enquiries to the Grampian Police media office:

A spokeswoman for Grampian Police said: "We can confirm that we are making inquiries into allegations of fraud, involving the alleged theft of a five-figure sum from a city centre company."

She added that no-one had been charged and inquiries were continuing.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Arts Council in Edinburgh confirmed Mr Rae had resigned from Enterprise Music Scotland.

She said the Scottish Arts Council had given the organisation £207,000 for the period 2003/04 to 2005/06, but much of the money would be filtered down to promoters and performers.

Or at least some of it that hasn't gone missing would have done. If you're a Scottish musician, you might want to ponder just how many gigs you would have been prepared to perform for a fifth of a million quid.

The Enterprise Music Scotland webpage is a bit of a quiet affair - as is so often the case with these sorts of quango groups.

The news page is empty, save for a pleading "If you have any news relating to promoters and performers or agents, let us know"; the forum proudly announces that its busiest time ever was when three people were on simultaneously, and allows you to read all three messages posted during its lifetime (they've yet to edit the page properly so it claims it comes from '').

The concert diary - surely a wonderful way to promote live music in the region - is another apologetic "Sorry - this page is being updated. " On a Saturday night, at 7.45? Good god, with that sort of dedicated staff, maybe it is money well spent. Unless they're fibbing of course. Google last crawled the page on October 19th, when they found a blank page promising "Below is a listing of all concerts being organised with Enterprise Music Scotland in the next four weeks." Delve a little back further, and you discover there's only one snapshot of the site on the internet archive, from over a year ago: October 2004, in fact. Another blank page, and the promise "Below is a listing of all concerts being organised with Enterprise Music Scotland in the next four weeks." Perhaps October is just a bad month for them, although since they claim to be promoting 400 live events a year in Scotland, you'd think one October or other there'd have been something.

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