Arts Governance in Scotland: The Saga of Scottish Opera, 1962-2007

Huw Jones, Susan Galloway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines the Scottish Arts Council’s (SAC) role in helping to establish and develop Scottish Opera (founded in 1961). It focuses in particular on the tensions between SAC and Scottish Opera over how the company’s ‘national’ role should be defined. Up until the 1970s, both SAC and Scottish Opera agreed that the role of a national opera company should be to represent the nation’s highest artistic standards. However, from the 1970s, SAC came under increasing pressure to make the arts more accessible to the public. It therefore tried to redefine Scottish Opera’s role in terms of providing a nationwide service for opera. This was resisted by the opera company, resulting in a series of funding disputes between the patron and the artist which were only resolved due to the involvement of the UK and Scottish governments, but which ultimately undermined the arms-length relationship on which cultural policy in Scotland and the UK is historically based.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-241
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Scottish Historical Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2011


  • Scottish Arts Council
  • Scottish Opera
  • arms-length
  • cultural policy


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