This tenth paper in the ‘Building a New Scotland’ series sets out:
- how independence could further support Scotland’s creative economy
- how an independent Scotland could realise the potential of our culture and creative sectors on the international stage by re-joining the European Union and removing barriers for international performers
- how public service broadcasting would be protected with independence, and build on the strength of the Scottish screen sector
The full publication provides more details on these proposals, including the evidence that informs them, as well as references to sources.
This summary is available in other versions:
The transformational power of culture
Scotlandis a country that has cultural assets that are distinct, globally connected and internationally recognised. Our music, landscape, festivals, writers, actors, design, historical figures and landmarks all have international appreciation. Culture in Scotland is central to building inclusive communities, promoting positive citizenship, and helping us reflect on the biggest issues we face.
The Scottish Government has used its devolved powers to support the culture sector by creating opportunities to access culture and providing help to fully realise the transformative potential of the sector. This has included engaging children and young people in cultural activities and launching innovative programmes through the Culture Strategy, such as the Creative Communities, Arts Alive and Culture Collective programmes.
The First Minister announced in October 2023 that the Scottish Government will invest at least £100 million more annually in culture and the arts by the financial year 2028/29. To support this aim, funding to the culture sector will increase by £15.8 million next financial year to £196.6 million. In 2025/2026 the Scottish Government aims to provide an additional £25 million to the culture sector. This commitment to additional funding despite the challenging budget situation signals the Scottish Government's support for the culture sector.
Independence would build on all the progress that has been made under devolution, creating new opportunities to support access to culture.
Broadcasting refers to television and radio services, which are highly valued by audiences in Scotland. Our public service broadcasters have a long and respected tradition of delivering impartial and trusted news and high-quality distinctive programming.
With independence, the Scottish Government would establish a new Scottish public service broadcaster, providing TV, radio and online services. The scope, remit, governance, and funding model for a new broadcaster would be explored with Scottish audiences and industry, to ensure that the public is served by an independent, accountable, sustainable broadcaster that sits at the heart of Scottish life.
A new Scottish public service broadcaster would work with counterparts across the UK and internationally to ensure continued access to the programming we know and love. The new broadcaster would better reflect and prioritise the specific needs and interests of Scottish audiences, including a focus on local and national Scottish news, as well as providing a Scottish perspective on current and global affairs.
This approach would also enable a larger creative output in Scotland, with decision-making on programming and budgets sitting with those creative professionals who live and work in Scotland.
Scotland in the European Union
The UK's exit from the European Union had profound, negative consequences for our culture and creative sectors. In particular, the removal of free movement had a major impact on touring artists, who have found it increasingly difficult to reach new audiences and generate income in a key export market.
As a member of the European Union, an independent Scotland would have barriers to cultural exchange and collaboration with our neighbours removed. Freedom of movement would allow artists and creative professionals from the EU to come to Scotland more easily and remove barriers to Scottish artists touring in the EU.
An independent Scotland would also be an enthusiastic participant in culture policy initiatives such as the Creative Europe programme, the European Commission's flagship programme to support the culture and audiovisual sectors.
Scotland on the world stage
Independence would also provide opportunities for promoting Scottish culture on the world stage. In strategic locations, an independent Scotland would use its network of embassies to promote Scottish culture globally. This would build on the current 'Scotland House' model, which fosters connectivity with international partners.
The culture sector in Scotland is internationalist and outward looking, and cultural exchange and collaboration is vital to continued innovation in the sector. With independence, this government would further support culture in Scotland through a migration system flexible and responsive enough to support the evolving needs of the sector and tailored support for the creative industries in Scotland.
Independence would also allow Scotland to be a member of multilateral institutions, like the Council of Europe and UNESCO. As a member, Scotland would not only have full access to organisations that exist to nurture and protect our culture and cultural heritage, but could also play a key role in influencing how these organisations shape their cultural policies.
Scotland's creative economy
While Scotland's creative sector makes a valuable contribution to the wider economy in itself, it is also a driver of other sectors such as tourism and hospitality. Creative industries such as music, video games and the screen sector play an important economic role, while also supporting Scotland's international reputation.
The support provided by government and public bodies can be vital in helping our culture and creative sectors to develop and thrive, particularly as the sector continues to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Independence would give the Scottish Government and Parliament the necessary powers to make important fiscal decisions about how support for the culture sector can be funded and delivered – powers that are currently reserved to the UK government.
These could include tax relief and wider powers over taxation, borrowing and spending. Such measures could play a role in helping to ensure that Scotland's creative sectors have the support and stability that they need.
With the powers and international influence of an independent country, Scotland's culture sector could thrive, supporting access to our culture for people in Scotland and from abroad.
An independent Scotland in the EU would have enhanced opportunities to engage internationally, supporting the cultural exchange and collaboration that are so fundamental to cultural innovation.
And while our creative industries already make an important contribution to our economy, with independence, they could play an even stronger role in building a wealthier, fairer, and more inclusive Scotland.
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