Ambition 1: Transforming through culture
The draft strategy is structured around three key ambitions, the first of which focuses on transforming Scotland through culture. The consultation paper notes that the cultural and creative sectors are a significant and unique force within society that contribute to physical wellbeing, mental health and community strength. Yet this contribution could be significantly boosted by better inter-sector and cross-sector partnerships that plan for the long-term.
Ambition 1 – Transforming through culture: Recognising that culture and creativity are central to Scotland's cultural, social and economic prosperity.
Question 3: What is your view of the ambition, 'Transforming through culture' as set out above?
Question 4: If you have further comments on the ambition 'Transforming through culture', please provide them below. What do you like, dislike, or what would you change?
Table 3: Question 3 – What is your view of the ambition, 'Transforming through culture'
|Support||Do not support||Don't know||Not answered||Total|
|Academics, University, Higher Education or Further Education||6||6|
|Culture (arts, cultural heritage, creative industries) organisation, group or company||42||1||1||2||46|
|Local Authority or Culture Trust||13||1||2||16|
|National Collections and Performing Companies||9||9|
|Representative or umbrella group||25||2||7||34|
|Union or political party||4||1||1||6|
|% of organisations answering||94%||3%||3%|
|Individual (on behalf of a community)||1||1|
|% of individuals answering||74%||14%||12%|
|% of all respondents||79%||6%||6%||9%|
|% of all those answering||87%||7%||6%|
* if figures do not sum to 100% this is due to rounding.
A clear majority of respondents – 87% of those answering the question – supported the 'Transforming through culture' ambition. Organisational respondents were more likely to support the ambition than individuals (94% of those answering and 74% of those answering respectively).
The analysis below begins with comments made by those who supported the ambition and concludes with an analysis of comments made by those who did not. Issues raised by those who did not answer Question 3, or who did not know at Question 3 tended to raise similar themes to those who supported the ambition.
Views of those who supported the ambition
Respondents who supported the ambition often went on to stress the importance of placing culture at the heart of broader transformation. The power of culture to transform was noted, both in terms of the positive impact on individuals, communities and places, and in the potential of artists to lead debate on issues faced by society. It was seen as important for the draft strategy to strike the right balance between the Scottish Government supporting and promoting culture and ensuring that it remains free from political interference and remains true to its aspiration of being inclusive and open to all across Scotland.
In terms of reach and potential, a number of respondents noted that they were pleased to see culture taking its place through an outcome in the National Performance Framework. It was suggested that this is a key recognition that culture is not about 'additional benefit' but is essential to our quality of life and wellbeing.
The importance of creating an open and inclusive approach was highlighted:
Culture only matters if it's shared. Unless people have access to cultural resources, those resources cannot have an impact upon people's lives.
(Culture organisation, group or company respondent)
Further comments included that open knowledge is as important for culture as for industry, education and other sectors. It was suggested that public access to items within the cultural commons, such as out of copyright artworks, is important for maintaining the cultural health of the nation.
The importance of ensuring that everybody can access cultural events and opportunities was also raised, with particular points including that:
- for some communities, such as British Sign Language users, the economic and social benefits of cultural participation may be harder to deliver. Suggestions for positive change included setting up a British Sign Language TV channel and giving deaf people free access to cultural and arts events.
- there are still very limited opportunities for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities to access culture.
- it must be remembered that there are many small and scattered communities within Scotland that are not geographically based but which share the same or a similar heritage. Central funding to the relevant communal umbrella bodies is, therefore, necessary to reach those groups and individuals.
- there is scope for the draft strategy to consider more concrete ways in which accessibility can be realised, including through a creative and inclusive use of translation.
It was suggested that the draft strategy should articulate the barriers to culture so that they can be addressed. Barriers to culture engagement identified by respondents included:
- having to demonstrate change even if a model is working in order to secure project funding for something 'new'.
- the lack of affordable, appropriate spaces in which to practise creative cultural activity is a key issue for voluntary arts groups across Scotland.
- threats to the continued existence of live performance spaces.
- the erosion of support for culture at a local authority level, including through reduction in grants for community-led culture.
- people working in culture not feeling valued for the work they do and with low pay and long hours.
Some respondents noted the important role that their own organisation or others working in the same sector could play in transforming through culture. There was particular reference to:
- museums, including as being in a unique position to deliver across many policy areas.
- archives, by casting light on the communities that engage with them. It was suggested that the funding of public archives needs to reflect their role in transforming through culture.
- conservation and heritage science, which enable the impact of heritage to be maintained in the long-term.
- faith-based communities, including the central place the church has played in the arts through commissioning, sharing works with communities and exploring aspects of faith through the medium of the arts.
Respondents also identified areas which they felt should be given greater emphasis or coverage in the final strategy. These included:
- intangible cultural heritage, including the role of traditions and how they can be safeguarded and celebrated as an integral and valued part of Scotland's culture.
- traditional crafts and skills.
There were also suggestions about additional themes or groups of people that could be acknowledged or considered in the draft strategy including:
- the role of charitable or philanthropic support in cultural development in Scotland, for example through supporting the development of V&A Dundee.
- the role of the arts in helping people experiencing homelessness.
In addition, it was highlighted that the third sector also galvanises opportunities to access and support vulnerable people who can benefit from arts and culture but who may be unlikely to engage with it on their own. It was suggested that the draft strategy needs to do more to ensure that the third sector is seen as an equal partner in the delivery of arts and culture as well as the mechanism through which people access culture.
In terms of how the transformation ambition itself should be defined or phrased, comments included that:
- recognising culture is insufficiently ambitious. It was suggested that 'embedding' could be an alternative.
- it should also refer to wellbeing and not just prosperity.
Other comments included that balance is key, and that economic considerations should not have automatic precedence over other measures of prosperity. With a slightly different emphasis it was suggested that:
While the intrinsic value of creativity and cultural tradition should not be overlooked, Scotland's multi-faceted national culture and the local and regional cultures and the creativity on which it is built have a vital contribution to make to the 'whole economy approach' promoted in Scotland's Economic Strategy.
(Local Authority or Culture Trust respondent)
On a connected point, it was suggested that the draft strategy should include cross-referencing between existing legislative and policy frameworks. There was specific reference to:
- the Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.
- the Social Enterprise Strategy for Scotland.
- links to public health reforms.
It was also suggested that this section of the draft strategy would benefit from more concrete examples of how transformation can be achieved.
Culture and health
The consultation paper notes that culture contributes to health and wellbeing in a myriad of ways, from improving the overall environment for individuals and communities, to offering alternatives and complementary activities that support treatment and care.
Some respondents noted the important role that their own organisation or sector already plays, including that a number of third sector organisations are using cultural approaches to support people's health and wellbeing. Examples given included working with local nurseries and schools, community groups and unemployed young people to deliver creative workshops on food growing, gardening, and environmental art.
However, issues about funding were also raised, including that museum programmes that focus on health and wellbeing, community cohesion and education often operate on very small budgets, and are reliant on external funding beyond Government grants.
More generally, it was suggested that projects can be difficult to get off the ground for funding reasons and that identifying additional funding streams would be very valuable. It was also reported that it can be difficult to demonstrate the value of cultural services or projects with a health and wellbeing angle and this can make it difficult to justify spend on what may not be seen as an essential service.
Finally, it was suggested that the draft strategy needs a much stronger emphasis on the need for the worlds of health and social care to join forces with the worlds of arts and culture in a shared effort to improve and nurture people's health and wellbeing.
Culture and education, children and young people
The consultation paper states that culture and creativity empower young people, building their self-confidence, enabling them to express their thoughts and emotions, and encouraging them to work collaboratively with others.
Some of those who commented noted the importance of ensuring children and young people have access to culture. For example, it was suggested that:
Arts and culture in Scotland will not benefit and inspire positive change for less advantaged citizens unless we are able to provide frequent, high quality access to the arts, from the earliest possible age. It is therefore essential that our youngest citizens are able to access arts and cultural activities from infancy.
(Culture organisation, group or company respondent)
A number of other comments focused on the delivery of, or access to culture through schools and included that it will be at the pre-school, primary and secondary school stages that the foundations, enabling a lifetime of appreciation, participation in, and understanding of, the inherent value of culture, will be built.
In terms of how those foundations can be built, comments included that:
- more could be done to support culture across the curriculum and not just in arts subjects.
- extra-curricular opportunities need to be maximised giving children the opportunity to pursue activities that are of interest to them.
- the scope should be expanded to include early years, further education, youth work and lifelong learning establishments.
Other respondents commented on:
- the loss of specialist teachers in schools.
- the current disparity between local authorities regarding instrumental music provision.
- difficulties for young people from marginalised communities accessing higher education in the arts and culture.
In terms of the draft strategy itself, it was suggested that it could contain a bolder statement of intent about the need for arts delivery in schools and that it is an opportunity to highlight a training need across education practitioners. Free access to instrumental music tuition was specifically raised by a number of respondents.
Culture and technology
The consultation paper states that technological change is transforming how culture is developed, produced, delivered and experienced, such as online streaming, digitisation and in online communities. It also notes that technology offers both new opportunities for expanding culture and improving access to certain types of culture.
Further comments sometimes echoed this perspective, including that if the final strategy is to be a living document it must take cognisance of the upcoming digital and technological advances and the significant opportunities and implications these will have for the arts and cultural sector.
There was specific reference to the importance of recognising new and emerging technologies, including the growth of virtual reality, immersive technology and 360° filming, augmented reality, live streaming and performance capture. It was suggested that while the draft culture strategy rightly identifies how digitisation and online streaming offers new opportunities to engage with culture, it is also changing the form of culture itself.
In terms of challenges faced, comments included:
- that there is currently no support for existing technological infrastructure in organisations that are actively addressing digital access to provision. It was suggested that the draft strategy should set out support and a financial commitment to access culture via technology for people with disabilities.
- an academic respondent reporting that the majority of their funding for new technologically-oriented opportunities has come through the UK Government's National Productivity Investment Fund.
In terms of opportunities, it was reported that the music industry has always responded to technological advancements with creativity and that, while the digital era has presented the industry with challenges, it also presents opportunities as long as musicians and creative content creators are fairly remunerated for this work.
It was also suggested that Scotland's continuing capacity to engage in and lead innovation across the creative and cultural sectors could be further highlighted through the draft strategy.
Culture and climate change
The consultation paper explains that the draft strategy aims to place culture and creativity at the heart of a progressive and innovative society where the struggle against climate change will become even more vital and relevant to everyone.
One suggestion was that the 'Transforming through culture' ambition should recognise the environmental impact, with the ambition being 'Transforming through culture: Recognising that culture and creativity are central to Scotland's cultural, social, environmental and economic prosperity'.
Other comments included that the Scottish museums sector is committed to doing what it can to influence behavioural change with respect to climate change, and that culture can both support the campaign against extraction of fossil fuels as well as imagine a post fossil fuel future for Scotland.
Issues raised included that:
- the relationship between arts organisations and oil and gas company sponsorship needs to be considered.
- there is a need for investment in the fabric of museum buildings in order to reduce their impact on the environment.
Collaboration, co-operation and policy integration
The consultation paper suggests that developing a more collective understanding of what culture does will mean that culture will be better integrated across other policy areas.
Some respondents noted the importance of taking a collaborative approach, including suggesting that a more structured and sustained approach to collaboration across disciplines would be welcome. In terms of how any approach should be taken forward, suggestions included that:
- it will be important for cultural heritage to have a place at the table.
- the draft strategy should consider how cultural life in all its forms can be successfully integrated within other policy areas, including health and wellbeing, learning and attainment, planning, place-making and community regeneration.
- the support and partnership of Scotland's local authorities will be key to helping facilitate the building of effective networks, partnerships and sharing of best practice.
- there needs to be more detail here about how culture is expected to feature in Local Outcome Improvement Plans and Community Planning.
In remote and rural areas, support is needed to create partnerships with businesses outside the culture, heritage and arts sector.
Views of those who did not support the ambition
Some of those who did not support the ambition asked whether society needed to be transformed or queried the role of culture in that transformation. Some respondents also queried whether there is evidence about the use of culture to deliver other outcomes, for example, around health and wellbeing. Other comments focused on which sectors, groups or types of people will be central to any transformation. They included that:
- the cultural heritage sector should be given greater recognition for the key role it plays.
- local authorities have a big part to play and their cultural planning will be key.
Further issues raised included that:
- there is no explanation of why linguistic diversity is regarded as a strength.
- with reference to climate change, a perception that the intention of the government to pay artists to deliver its message is stated clearly, and that paying artists to speak on the state's behalf is not acceptable in an open, democratic society.
- alternatively, and as expressed by some who supported the ambition, that environmental sustainability is essential to cultural, social and economic prosperity and that the ambition should be amended to that effect.
On a similar theme to comments made by those who supported the ambition, it was also felt that culture does not always have to act in transformative ways to be of value and that its intrinsic value should be recognised.
Question 5: Please provide comments on the aims and actions under this ambition. What do you like, or dislike, or what would you change?
In their general comments at Question 5, some respondents made a broad statement of support for the various aims and actions set out, with further comments including that they are all relevant or progressive.
Others suggested that more specific and measurable aims or actions will be required. It was suggested that:
- further definition of the aims could help ensure that the associated actions are the most appropriate.
- academic and sectoral reports on both benefits of culture and recommendations on addressing inequality of access, representation and inclusion in the arts should be drawn together to produce a cohesive action plan.
It was also suggested that government should first examine barriers to innovation and creative approaches to problem solving across policy, public sector activity and investment.
In terms of who should be involved in delivering the aims or actions, comments included that:
- it is vital that local authorities are at the core of how these aims are delivered. They need to be an important partner in the actions listed as, so often, the funding, projects and partnerships needed to achieve these aims are delivered through local government.
- strategic or steering groups should include British Sign Language or representatives of deaf culture, not just disability groups and those who focus on hearing 'loss' or 'impairment'.
Issues raised included that the actions outlined for 'Transforming through culture' all feel quite high-level and top-down, which runs counter to other aspects of the draft strategy which seek to empower individuals and communities in a new way. Specifically, it was suggested that the actions should support communities that are not engaged.
Other general comments made often reflected issues already covered at the analysis presented at Question 4 or elsewhere.
Aim 1: Place culture as a central consideration across all policy areas.
Those who commented often made a statement of support for Aim 1, including suggesting that, if achieved, it could be critical in delivery of key elements of the vision, especially that 'culture is to be experienced by everyone'. To be successful it was suggested that the aim:
…should not be seen as a bid to other fields by culture for more territory, funding or clout, but as a reminder and statement to those non-cultural policy areas that culture is essential to achieving their aims, and an offer to help achieve them.
(Representative or umbrella group respondent)
It was suggested that active engagement at the highest levels of government will be required, particularly in an economic and political climate which is increasingly uncertain. It was also suggested that, in addition to policies, funding streams and grant-making responsibilities and their respective processes, would also need to be aligned and simplified.
Others were looking for changes or additions to the aim, including suggesting that:
- 'consideration' is not strong enough and does not suggest definitive action.
- the aim would be strengthened by clear reference to tourism and visitor attractions and their links to economic regeneration and wellbeing.
There was also a concern that this aim may not be realistic.
Action 1: Develop a new cultural leadership post within Scottish Government, supported by strategic thinkers from across the culture sectors and beyond. The role will support creative and innovative thinking and highlight the benefits of a more connected and multi-disciplinary approach across all areas of government and its major stakeholders to consider the big societal issues faced in Scotland today and in the future.
Views were mixed amongst those who made specific reference to the new cultural leadership post.
Many respondents made a clear statement of support, including suggesting that the role will be crucial to helping deliver the changes proposed. For example, it was suggested that:
The Cultural Leadership post could be a game changing shift in policy making. It is vital that they are able to work across departments to ensure policy makers throughout the Scottish Government understand the benefits of and their responsibility to consider culture in their work.
(Representative or umbrella group respondent)
Suggestions for how any post should be framed included that:
- it should be akin to the Chief Medical Officer or Chief Scientific Officer.
- the postholder would need to be given sufficient authority and resources to effect change. This was a frequently raised issue.
- it would be essential for this post to have the influence and resources to work across all Scottish Government policy areas.
- it may be most effective if focused on influencing and enabling.
- the strategic thinkers should be from across the full breadth of the culture sector and include individual artists. It was suggested that it will be important that this group reflects Scotland's geography and demographic diversity. In terms of those beyond the cultural sector, those with a knowledge and awareness of marginal groups should be included.
- consideration should be given to a complementary support structure for the post, such as cultural champions in each policy area who could be networked with each other, with the leadership post and with cultural leaders in local authorities and Community Planning Partnerships.
Queries were also raised, including whether artists will be involved in the selection process for the post, and whether the postholder would be accessible and accountable to the arts community. There were also questions about the relationship between the role and Scottish Ministers, Creative Scotland and the other public bodies and major institutions that support Scotland's culture sectors.
Alternative approaches or suggestions included:
- the postholder could be a 'champion', 'advocate' or 'protector' rather than a leader.
- the role should be clearly designated as an ambassador for culture, both within government and in facing outward into the community.
- a Cultural Leadership Team could be a better way forward. Specifically, it was suggested that the sheer breadth of experience and expertise required to execute such a position effectively could be an issue, and that a committee or collaborative approach would be more effective.
Comments on the potential of the post, included that:
- the post-holder might have an international ambassadorial role.
- the post-holder's first action should be to engage immediately and meaningfully with the Learning Directorate to ensure that arts and culture are, once again, a well-funded core element of the curriculum and that training and pathways into the cultural sector/creative industries are supported and promoted.
- a strong link could be made with teacher education and career-long professional learning for teachers.
Some respondents commented that they would need more information about the proposed role before being able to take a position. Other points made included that:
- there is little clarity about the purpose and remit of the role. It was suggested that the generalist nature of the description, the lack of any clearly defined authority or leadership role and the lack of any commitment to resources undermines the original aim it addresses.
- there is a risk of complicating an already busy landscape and it would be helpful to understand the wider strategy for cross-government engagement and collaboration with executive agencies and sector bodies.
- funding of the role could divert resources away from grassroots organisations.
Fewer respondents disagreed with, or were not convinced as to the benefits of, developing a new post. Their further comments included that it could create another layer of bureaucracy and that the resources could be better used elsewhere.
There were concerns about whether the post holder would have sufficient authority to drive change and a question as to whether one individual can really represent the whole culture sector. Other issues raised included that:
- it is not clear how the new leadership role differs significantly from existing leadership roles, including within the Scottish Government or Creative Scotland.
- there was also reference to the role of Scottish Enterprise, the network of local authorities, and Arts and Business Scotland.
- there are already impressive cultural leaders working at grassroots level across Scotland and the money would be better spent supporting them to achieve the ambitions and actions set out in the draft strategy.
Finally, there was a concern running across this action, and the development of national partnership for culture (Action 2 below), that black and minority ethnic communities will be inevitably disadvantaged by these approaches. Further comments included that black and minority ethnic groups are under-represented within the culture sector, particularly in positions of leadership and academia, and that if an internal post is to be created, it should be accompanied by a panel of partners within the sector which includes black voices; if this is not the case, the inequality will be perpetuated.
Aim 2: Open up the potential of culture as a transformative opportunity across society.
There were relatively few comments specifically about Aim 2, although some respondents noted their support for the aim or made suggestions about how the potential of culture to transform could be opened up. These included:
- shifting away from short-term goals and the thinking that often comes with them. Specifically, the proposed changes in the draft strategy must be protected for the longer term if they are to have an effect.
- using data on existing activity and matching that data with the best research on initiatives that have already been proven to have an impact.
It was also suggested that achieving the aim will require a review of the role of cultural activity within our society and that this review should be carefully designed by a multi-disciplinary team with expertise in facilitated methods of consultation and debate. Another suggestion was that the Scottish Government should support the establishment of an academic centre of excellence to research and support the development of cross-sector cultural integration using arts and health as a key model of practice.
Other comments on the aim itself included that it is meaningless or that further consideration needs to be given to whether culture can or should address inequality or climate change. Some wanted the draft strategy to recognise that evaluation and evidence gathering on arts and health is advanced and that it consistently articulates the societal value of creative and cultural engagement.
Action 2: Develop a national partnership for culture that includes working with academic partners to develop new approaches to measuring an extended view of culture and better articulate the benefits of culture to society.
Respondents often noted their agreement with Action 2, including suggesting that the development of a national partnership is essential. Benefits of the approach identified included that:
- it could help achieve consensus on national priorities across cultural organisations.
- it could help explore ways of sharing good practice.
There was a request for further information on the proposed membership of any national partnership with suggestions including:
- representatives from Further Education and Community Learning and Development.
- individuals and organisations directly involved in cultural production or presentation.
- all of Scotland's creative industries' unions.
- the Scottish Contemporary Art network.
It was also suggested that any approach should include international connections and there was reference to Internationalising Social Enterprise – A Strategy for Scotland as setting out an approach based on academic and agency partnerships.
There was a query as to why academic partners have been singled out, and a suggestion that academic contribution can move things away from plain English and being easily accessible. Other issues raised included that a national partnership is a top-down approach, and something should be done to connect with communities and give them a say.
With reference to approaches to measuring an extended view of culture, comments included:
- it is incredibly hard and is possibly damaging to the development of cultural initiatives.
- to have an impact it is essential to first accurately map existing cultural provision and existing research on the impact of different types of cultural provision.
- action research or similar approaches might be better suited to this work than desk-based research.
- it should be remembered that for small organisations, measuring the impact of their work is already a huge undertaking.
Not all respondents who commented agreed with the action, with their further comments including that work is needed to understand how culture contributes to transformation in society and that more thinking is required before a move to measurement of an extended view of culture.
It was also suggested that Action 2 does not flow from Aim 2 and offers a very narrow interpretation of what 'opening up' the potential of culture could mean. Specifically, it was suggested that there is more to this than measuring. A revised version of the action proposed was that it should read '…develop a national partnership for culture that includes working with academic partners to articulate and measure the benefits of culture to society.'
Aim 3: Position culture as central to progress in health and wellbeing, economy, education, reducing inequality and realising a greener and more innovative future.
Respondents often welcomed the aim of positioning culture as central to progress in health and wellbeing, economy, education, reducing inequality and realising a greener and more innovative future. Further comments included that increasing the sector's involvement in social innovation can build resilience by attracting greater public support and awareness of the importance of culture.
However, there were also questions as to whether the aim is achievable within the current funding environment. Other issues included that the reference to 'a greener future' is insufficient and environmental sustainability should be embedded throughout the draft strategy.
As at other questions, it was also noted that the case for culture for its own sake must continue to be made.
Action 3: Develop alliances that support social change through culture and promote leadership and joined-up working across the culture sector, other sectors, local and national government and communities.
Respondents often gave their support for the approach, with further comments including that alliances and joined-up working is crucial. It was suggested that:
The strategy should provide encouragement and opportunities for local and national government to adopt a more inclusive and timely approach to engaging with cultural heritage across the wider agendas including economic regeneration, education, equalities and health and wellbeing.
(Local Authority or Culture Trust respondent)
As at Action 2, there were suggestions about who should form part of any alliances. These included:
- the National Performing Companies.
- individuals. It was noted that artists are also active citizens, for example as members of community councils, school governors, community groups and movements for change across our society.
- trade unions.
It was also suggested that there should be specific reference to the role of Community Planning Partnerships in developing alliances.
More widely, it was suggested that developing alliances should begin with cultural organisations working at community level. It was frequently noted that there is already a lot of joined-up thinking and working across the sector and suggested that existing alliances, often working slightly below the radar, should be sought out and strengthened before 'the wheel is reinvented'.
In terms of how any alliances should be set up and run, further comments included that it will be important to design collaborations that can be sustained rather than being shorter-term and project-based. Other comments included that:
- it will be important not to force partnerships or alliances to the detriment of any of the partners.
- alliances must be based on being equal partners.
- it is not clear who would be responsible for developing alliances.
- participatory arts practitioners are already good at working together but are not particularly highlighted in the draft strategy.
However, concerns were also raised about Action 3, including that it is not clear how the action will be delivered and lead to change.
It was also seen as important to ensure culture retains its ability to be independent from government and can continue to question, criticise and challenge.
Other suggested aims or actions
Finally, a small number of additional aims or actions were suggested. These included:
- an aim to recognise the potential of cultural heritage, conservation and heritage science to act as subject for climate change research and communication.
- an action for government and funders to offer guidance and signposting on best practice in environmental sustainability and to encourage compliance with guidelines.
Email: Donna Stewart