Ambition 3: Sustaining culture
The third ambition set out in the draft strategy focuses on sustaining culture. Specifically, it refers to nurturing culture to grow as a diverse and positive force in society across Scotland.
Ambition 3: Sustaining and nurturing culture to flourish and to evolve as a diverse, positive force in society, across all of Scotland.
Question 9: What is your view of the ambition 'Sustaining culture'?
Question 10: If you have further comments on the ambition, 'Sustaining culture' please provide them below. What do you like, dislike, or what would you change?
Table 5: Question 9 – What is your view of the ambition 'Sustaining 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||41||1||1||3||46|
|Local Authority or Culture Trust||12||1||3||16|
|National Collections and Performing Companies||9||9|
|Representative or umbrella group||26||1||7||34|
|Union or political party||4||1||1||6|
|% of organisations answering||95%||2%||4%|
|Individual (on behalf of a community)||1||1|
|% of individuals answering||82%||14%||5%|
|% of all respondents||81%||5%||4%||10%|
|% of all those answering||90%||6%||4%*|
* if figures do not sum to 100% this is due to rounding.
A clear majority of respondents – 90% of those answering the question – supported the 'Sustaining culture' ambition. Organisational respondents were more likely to support the ambition than individuals (95% of those answering and 82% 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 9, or who did not know at Question 9 tended to raise similar themes to those who supported the ambition.
Views of those who supported the ambition
Respondents often made a general statement of support for the ambition including welcoming the consultation paper's recognition that ongoing strategic direction and investment are required to support a flourishing cultural sector and cultural life across Scotland. The breadth of the ambition was also welcomed, including because it encompasses evolving forms of cultural practice and participation.
However, it was also suggested that this section of the draft strategy could be bolder, for example by setting out that 'Scotland wants to be world leading and have a thriving economy and that we believe that having a strong culture sector is key to this'. It was also suggested that 'nurturing' should be emphasised over sustaining or that the ambition should be broadened to include products of culture as well as cultural practice.
Others were looking for further detail about how priorities will be set, including around funding. It was also suggested that detailed actions and measurables are needed.
Other comments included that it will be important to draw on past strengths as well as future innovation and development and that there is a great deal of potential learning for the culture sector from outside of its own expertise, and this could be explored further.
One area which it was felt had been given insufficient emphasis was education and it was suggested that:
To ensure that Scotland's future generations are able to fully realise their creative (and therefore arguably societal) potential they require to have the means to express their creativity and to understand and be inspired by their culture. This will empower them in the future and will primarily happen by exposure to creative practitioners and teachers. This should be a key priority of Scottish Government at all levels in the education sector.
(Culture organisation, group or company respondent)
Further comments included that exposure to the positive benefits of culture from outside formal education are also vital and should be supported, particularly in programmes for youth.
In addition to funding issues (noted below), it was suggested that Brexit-related challenges need to be covered in more depth in the draft strategy. Examples given included issues related to freedom of movement and the potential loss of current European conventions which safeguard much of our natural heritage. It was also suggested that the draft strategy needs to provide more clarity on EU regulatory competences in respect of Intellectual Property.
Economy, funding and support
With reference to the economy, it was suggested that culture plays an important and pivotal role in attracting visitors to Scotland and that tourism and culture go hand-in-hand. It was suggested that for tourism to flourish, it is important that culture and events receive sufficient funding from both public and private sources for them to be sustainable and vibrant.
Many of the further comments also addressed funding issues, including that supporting the capacity and resilience of the sector will be key and that this will require financial investment.
The increasing competition for limited and often reducing resources was recognised, along with a range of specific challenges including that:
- the culture sector in general is not well paid, and that 'project culture', relying heavily on grants from the third sector, results in short-term contracts with little or no job security for many.
- investment in the fabric of buildings, such as museum buildings, has not been carried out and will have long-term consequences.
- there has been an erosion of infrastructure, such as community halls and public transport at local government level.
- Brexit is likely to have a negative impact, including on funding opportunities. It was suggested that the draft strategy needs to provide more clarity in terms of what will happen to funding beyond Creative Europe 2020 and its successor programmes.
- care will need to be taken not to spread funding so thinly that it undermines the delivery of the draft strategy.
In terms of approaches going forward, comments included that although additional funding can be brought in from other sources, such as the private sector, stable Government funding is crucial. It was also suggested that:
- there is a need to maximise the benefits of previous investment in heritage by showing organisations the advantages of focusing on sustainability and resilience.
- funding for organisations that are accepted as important and strategic should be extended to longer than 3 years.
- capital funding will be important.
- public funding has a key role to play in encouraging an entrepreneurial approach from organisations in the sector.
It was also suggested that the draft strategy could mobilise and incentivise the cultural sector to navigate the social investment landscape. Specifically, it was suggested that outline support to develop new business operating models could be offered.
The importance of including social enterprises among key strategy partners was also highlighted.
With reference to working with the private sector or on a more commercial basis, comments included that there is significant potential in boosting commercial aptitude and awareness within the leadership of the cultural and heritage sectors. Failure to do so was perceived by some as carrying a significant opportunity cost in lost self-generated income from commercial activities such as licensing, events, retail and other trading activities.
In terms of support required, comments included that quality business support designed for the cultural sector is needed. A programme of sector-specific support developed and delivered by the sector, for the sector, was proposed.
Working together and leadership
Comments included that there is a general perception that there is not currently enough collaboration to deliver on the proposed ambitions and that there is a need to demonstrate how wider partnerships can be beneficial bringing various sectors together in relation to culture and also heritage.
It was suggested that, in order to develop the conditions and skills for creativity to thrive, and to elevate creative practitioner status, it is vital that the Government and the whole public sector take a lead in best practice, for example, by commissioning Scotland's best designers for public contracts.
A regret was expressed that the draft strategy is silent on the current and future strategic relationship between the Scottish and UK Governments in supporting culture. The need for joint working between these organisations to ensure that, taking account of the balance of reserved and devolved powers, Scotland may access, benefit from and complement UK-wide cultural developments and investments, was suggested.
Cultural workforce and developing excellence
There was support for the draft strategy's focus on skills development and for the recognition of the role of freelancers.
In terms of what is required going forward, comments included that a sector-wide approach is needed for skills development and it needs to be supported with adequate investment. It was also suggested that:
- a comprehensive system of supporting artists and organisations, from when they are first training to when they are considered world class, is needed.
- the needs of freelancers and micro-businesses need to be considered, not least because they make up a substantial part of the cultural sector.
- there should be a more explicit commitment to resourcing skills development across cultural heritage.
There was also support for the focus on digital skills, with further comments including that the development of digital skills will be of central importance to the sector and support will be required.
A public body respondent reported that a very significant number of organisations applying to them for funding lack the skills and capability to make effective use of digital technology for maintaining heritage, for engaging the public with heritage, and for operating in a digital world.
It was seen as essential that the cultural workforce has the appropriate leadership, skills, training, and aptitudes to meet the rapidly changing demands of emerging technologies and it was suggested that alignment with Scotland's overall Digital Strategy for skills and infrastructure is required.
There was also support for the recognition of the contribution volunteers make across the culture sector with a high number of organisations depending on volunteers to make their organisation viable. However, it was reported that volunteering in some areas is in decline and that this reduction – and the potential consequences should this continue – needs to be acknowledged if the sustainability of the sector is to be maintained.
Culture and diversity
It was suggested that fair and inclusive representation is essential to a flourishing Scottish cultural heritage scene, but that the cultural heritage sector suffers from multiple barriers (perceived and actual) to both employment and engagement that need to be addressed.
Further comments included that:
- if our cultural producers are diverse, audiences and participants will also be diverse.
- greater diversity amongst employees in cultural organisations and funders including senior teams, boards and volunteers, will be key.
- given that the language of the cultural sector is almost uniformly English, the encouragement of British Sign Language users to become visible role models would be a positive step for supporting the aspirations of deaf children and for increasing awareness of British Sign Language and deaf culture.
The importance of looking outward was recognised and it was suggested that an international focus has a vital role to play, not just in promoting Scotland's diverse cultural assets, but in enriching and constantly renewing our culture at home through meaningful contact and exchange with cultural policy and best practice from around the world.
Further comments included that the diaspora of Scottish-trained creative practitioners and designers is proof of their internationally-recognised worth but could be argued as illustration of a present failing in the wider Scottish cultural scene and wider economy.
Suggestions included that Scotland's international ambitions could be more clearly articulated in the draft strategy. It was also suggested that there is scope to strengthen the draft strategy in terms of what it says about Scotland's cultural relationship with the wider world, particularly in relation to how Scotland is viewed externally from a cultural point of view; how international flows and influences contribute to culture in Scotland; and how Scotland can learn from the experiences of other nations.
Views of those who did not support the ambition
Those who did not support the ambition suggested:
- the associated actions are not bold enough.
- that culture does not need money to flourish and that by developing the conditions for culture to thrive and linking this to the economy we place restrictions on whose culture is acceptable
- the ambition fails adequately to engage with the built environment as an existing and continuous source of cultural capital.
Question 11: 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 11, respondents often made a broad statement of support for the various aims and actions set out. They also made further comments including that it may be necessary to clarify in more detail the proposed roles of various players, such as local authorities, businesses and voluntary organisations, in sustaining the draft strategy.
It was also suggested that timescales and further detail on the aims and actions would be welcome and that the actions do not always obviously flow from the aims. Other comments included that:
- the aims and actions would all benefit from considering the need for audiences as much as practitioners.
- museums form a core part of Scotland's tourist offer and the Scottish Government should work with local authorities across Scotland to do more to enable local museums to make the most of tourism opportunities.
- there is a need for bespoke strategies for rural and small town contexts in order to sustain cultural activities and economies.
- there should be an action relating to Value Added Tax on existing buildings.
Not all respondents supported the aims and actions and it was suggested that Government does not have an active participatory role to play in most of the areas covered under the sustaining culture ambition, other than to provide arm's length funding.
Other comments included that Scotland already has the skills to help culture thrive, and that what is needed is adequate funding and appreciation for those of all ages who contribute to our cultural industries.
Aim 1: Develop the conditions and skills for culture to thrive, so it is cared for, protected and produced for the enjoyment of all present and future generations.
Some respondents offered their support for the aim with their further comments including that:
- the conditions and skills start at primary school level for participants and professionals.
- its associated actions should include volunteer-led groups.
It was suggested that the second half of the aim is not clear, including what 'cared for, protected and produced' means in this context. Suggestions as to how the aim should be rephrased included that:
- 'protected' should be replaced with 'safeguarded'.
- 'produced' should be replaced with either 'generated' or 'created'.
- it should emphasise 'experience' as much as 'conditions and skills'.
Action 1: Explore new funding models to support the culture sector and to develop the creative economy that includes new partnerships and examining the potential of Scottish Government powers such as Scottish National Investment Bank, devolved tax and legislative powers that will generate a collective responsibility to supporting culture in the long-term.
Many of the further comments at Question 11 focused on exploring new models to support the culture sector. Although there was significant support for the action, there were also calls for more explanation of what new funding models might look like and a query about whether the Scottish Government would take the lead in determining these new funding models.
As at other questions, the need for Government or arm's length funding, was raised. Any suggestion that public cultural institutions will be encouraged to find alternatives to Government funding was seen as worrying, and there was a general call to move away from short-term and piecemeal funding to a more sustainable, strategic and long-term approach. For example:
A strong and supportive system of funding, from micro grants to multi-year agreements, is at the core of a cultural industry that is able to develop and plan for success while also nurturing emerging generations of artists and arts workers.
(National Collections and Performing Companies respondent)
It was suggested that sufficient Government funding is critically important for the culture sector to thrive and is a pre-requisite for leveraging investment into culture from other sources. However, it was also acknowledged that there is much more that Government can do to support the sector including:
- encouraging ties to business and ethical philanthropy, placing culture central to the economy, and increasing avenues of self-generated income.
- developing new taxation models to support the failing infrastructures.
- introducing a tourist tax to raise money for heritage attractions.
- exploring new measures which might support and encourage stronger partnerships between businesses and culture.
It was also suggested that the draft strategy should articulate a better understanding of the needs of artists and creative practitioners, recognising their fundamental importance to the sector, in order to invest in, and sustain, their careers.
As at the previous question, it was also noted that Brexit will close doors to European funding, which some believed could create even further constraints within funding models already stretched to breaking point.
In terms of what any new funding models should take into account or be able to support, comments included that they should:
- place greater emphasis on cultural participation and inclusion at the local level and through third sector and grassroots activity.
- recognise the value and continuing future importance of major cultural institutions, as hubs for generating increased investment, thanks to their capacity to leverage additional support for independent artists.
- recognise that many other organisations in Scotland's cultural sector can be equally strong ambassadors internationally and that funding should also be directed towards them accordingly.
- provide centralised funding to support cultural activities among the various small and disparate minority communities.
- recognise the need for appropriate remuneration for creation of artworks and artistic labour of all types.
- include artists and makers and the peripheral infrastructure supporting them, both physical (such as studio space or rehearsal space) and non-physical (such as cultural journalism).
- ensure that deaf culture is able to thrive. At present, funding models are not clear or accessible and funding may be project-specific and thus narrow in its remit, inadvertently excluding deaf culture.
- include capital investment funding models such as land value capture and planning gain instruments as well as entrepreneurial partnerships between national government, local government, local communities, universities and developers.
- be based on an understanding of which art forms are truly popular rather than following previous funding arrangements.
- be informed by assessments of all likely benefits and disadvantages.
It was suggested that the development of new funding models offer a key opportunity to empower local authorities to help find new solutions. A further suggestion was that funding provides a clear case for the draft strategy benefitting from two different strands – one for grassroots, voluntary sector and the other for the professional creative sector. The very different funding needs and barriers for both were noted and it was suggested that there should be more opportunities for micro funding. The creation of a Cultural Sustainability Fund for rural Scotland was suggested and funds targeting the most deprived communities was also welcomed.
There was specific reference to the plans around the Scottish National Investment Bank, including that an investment fund of this nature would need to come with business support and could follow models used for social ventures. It was also noted that as the majority of the sector is made up of small and medium-sized enterprises, alternatives, such as community bonds, might be a better option for smaller organisations.
In terms of the draft strategy document itself, suggestions included that it would benefit from a more candid acknowledgment of the existing funding landscape or should refer to current funding model developments, such as how funding for culture can be leveraged through City Region Deals or Creative Scotland.
Action 2: Develop programmes to support skills development, leadership and innovation to prepare for the future including digital.
Some respondents noted their support for developing programmes to support skills development, leadership and innovation to prepare for the future.
Their further comments included that skills development programmes are vital and that ensuring that Scotland's cultural legacy is both protected and made accessible, is dependent upon developing and maintaining an appropriately skilled workforce. However, it was also noted that skills development should consider the demand side of the equation, not just supply.
With specific reference to the digital element, comments included that it should be embedded throughout the draft strategy. Other comments included that digital skills are a particular issue for the cultural heritage sector, and specifically that the skills required to ensure that digital records and creations are selected, preserved and made available, are very scarce.
In terms of specific suggestions for delivering the action, suggestions included:
- carrying out a skills audit of traditional skills.
- further development of existing work, such as that by the forum for social enterprises to access peer support, share resources and develop effective solutions to shared challenges.
- third sector organisations who work with marginalised groups are an invaluable source of information and support in terms of skills, training and consultancy opportunities.
Respondents sometimes commented on the importance of the early years and school stages, with points raised including that strong links with science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects and the Curriculum for Excellence are crucial. Specifically, it was suggested that consideration be given to how the Curriculum for Excellence supports young people to make informed choices about studying cultural subjects and how those studies might inform their future career choices, with clear career pathways signposted.
The role of key strategies such as Developing the Young Workforce was also noted.
Respondents also raised notes of caution, including that there are already programmes focused around skills, leadership, innovation and digital and that the market may already be saturated. It was suggested that culture-specific programmes would need to distinguish themselves from other offerings or combine with something that already works.
Not all respondents supported the action, with their further comments including a query as to whether more training opportunities for young people at school are really needed.
Aim 2: Value, trust and support creative people – for their unique and vital contribution to society and the economy.
Some respondents noted their support for the aim, with further comments including that:
…it would be a cultural advance in itself if recognition were finally given to those who make their contribution to Scotland's cultural life entirely outwith the shelter of regular public funding. It is one of the eternal paradoxes of public funding of the arts, that it crowds out the very grassroots community, voluntary and freelance work upon which a thriving national culture – its raison d'être – depends.
(Culture organisation, group or company respondent)
The particular challenges that some deaf people can experience were noted, including that it can be difficult for prospective deaf tour guides to meet the costs of training programmes. More generally, it was suggested that support could be given to help deaf people develop their professional networking and marketing skills, so they are better able to access wider society. Other suggestions included that:
- resourcing will be required.
- it will be important to develop mechanisms which make use of the contribution of creative people, particularly around contributing to, and working with, the organisations which are local to them.
In terms of the draft strategy itself, suggestions included that it should acknowledge that skills development is strong in some areas, for example within the museums and historic environment sector.
Action 3: Support the freelance cultural workforce and nurture skills, talent and excellence by exploring ways to improve their economic and social status and adopt a broad and long-term approach to supporting skills development from early years onwards.
Many respondents noted their agreement with supporting the freelance cultural workforce, nurturing skills and talent and adopting a long-term approach to supporting skills development. Further comments included that the relatively short-term nature of cultural project funding, the prevalence of short-term contracts and the generally low rates of pay can cause particular issues for freelancers. There was also a call for further detail on how the draft strategy could support skills development and a suggestion that the two elements of the action, supporting freelancers and skills development, should be separated out.
In terms of how this action could be taken forward comments included that:
- greater investment in skills development and training is needed.
- the draft strategy should broaden its definition of the workforce to include those who do not directly make or produce work and this group should be supported to develop and nurture their skills.
- the approach should support artists, creatives and practitioners to try things and take risks.
- Scotland should look to models and learning from across the UK and internationally.
- the draft strategy could support the culture sector to explore the opportunities and challenges of digital developments.
- support should begin at school age where it is perceived that the curriculum could better support creative arts learning.
- there should be investment in schools to make the arts of equal importance to science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects.
Suggestions that related specifically to freelance workers included:
- the cultural leadership post (Action 1 under Transforming culture) could encourage new ways of supporting freelance workers.
- there should be a commitment to revising employment law and making legislative change to support freelance workers. It was noted that many working in the cultural sector, and most artists, are freelance, suffering all the disadvantages of self-employment with none of the advantages.
- it would be useful to develop a map of key flows of funding across Scotland benefiting different parts of the freelance cultural workforce, such as the programming and production budgets of large-scale institutions.
- strong links exist between the private 'freelance' sector and social enterprises, and supporting long-term sustainability of social enterprises would, in turn, create more opportunities for freelancers to work with social enterprises.
In terms of the draft strategy itself, it was suggested that it could benefit from referencing what already exists. For example, the Curriculum for Excellence, the Developing the Young Workforce programme, Modern and Foundation Apprenticeships, Skills 4.0 and the Creative Learning Partnership.
Suggestions about how Action 3 should be presented or phrased included that:
- it should be more specific, for example by setting out a minimum creative wage for artists and freelancers.
- 'freelance' should be removed and the whole cultural workforce should be supported.
- instead of 'exploring ways to improve their economic and social status' it should read 'improving their economic and social status'.
Other views included that successful artists and crafts people are already highly regarded. It was also suggested that the draft strategy's comments on the practice of freelance work are far too broad, simplistic and applied too expansively.
Aim 4: Encourage greater openness and diverse cultures to reflect a changing Scotland in the 21st century.
There was support for encouraging greater openness and diverse cultures, with further comments including that Scotland has always been open to people from diverse backgrounds and they are key to our cultural wealth. It was also suggested that openness to difference and inclusion are fast becoming a hallmark of Scotland's reputation internationally and its understanding of itself.
However, there was a query as to what is meant by openness and it was also suggested that the aim should refer to enhancing diversity. More generally, it was suggested that promoting inclusion and diversity could have a greater presence in the draft strategy.
With reference to diversity, it was suggested that the British Film Institute's Diversity Standards offer a valuable framework by which to ensure that all publicly-funded activity in the sector works to advance this agenda.
Action 4: Increase inclusive opportunities to broaden the backgrounds of those working and volunteering in the culture sectors.
Some respondents noted their agreement with increasing inclusive opportunities to broaden the backgrounds of those working and volunteering in the culture sectors. Further comments included that progress will demand substantive action and a concerted effort, including in examining structures that are currently excluding people from diverse backgrounds and marginalised groups and reinforcing the status quo.
It was proposed that a detailed action plan be developed, with all organisations held to account for its delivery. Further comments included that it is important that Action 4 be tied to explicit, objective targets with a robust understanding of the baseline, rather than just a broad 'increase in inclusive opportunities'.
Other specific actions which respondents identified as necessary included:
- carrying out a robust and detailed exploration of the diversity and pathways of Scotland's creative sector to ensure we can benchmark against data-driven information.
- exploring how to improve the economic conditions of the cultural workforce.
- clarifying how existing equalities and diversity legislation and policies need to improve in order to allow Action 4 to happen.
It was also suggested that actions will need to be tailored to specific groups and sustained to provide a pipeline of support for talented people to enter, develop and progress in the culture sector. Other issues seen as important included:
- ensuring that there are opportunities within local communities for people of all ages to participate in culture and the arts.
- increasing funding for libraries, galleries, and museums in local areas and preserving and sharing our history, the history of the working class, of women, of minorities, of the marginalised and their contribution to our culture.
- as a sector that has traditionally lacked representation from many areas of society, including ethnic minorities and people with lower socio-economic status, Scottish museums have an important role to play in diversifying the cultural workforce.
As at previous questions, the key role that education has to play was noted and there was also a reference to ensuring that deaf culture is promoted, and that people from the deaf community and British Sign Language users are given genuine opportunities to work and participate in culture.
However, there were concerns about the reference to volunteers and that, while recognising the vital role they play, it is important that professional cultural practitioners should not be expected to work for inadequate or no pay. Specifically, it was noted that volunteering is often seen as an opening for young people seeking careers in the arts, but this tends to advantage those from more privileged backgrounds with access to additional sources of income.
Finally, it was suggested that promoting tolerance of expressions of cultural identity is also extremely important and that it might be helpful for the draft strategy to articulate how tolerance of cultural expression may be promoted and encouraged.
Action 5: Develop a longer-term and more strategic approach to supporting international ambitions and partnerships across the breadth of the culture sector.
Some respondents noted their agreement with developing a longer-term and more strategic approach to supporting international ambitions and partnerships across the breadth of the culture sector. Further comments included that it is important that Scotland continues to develop links with the rest of the UK, the rest of Europe and the wider world in order to learn from and share with the experiences of other countries.
The impact of budget restraints on this type of internationally-focused working was noted, with a Local Authority or Culture Trust respondent reporting that they have a tradition of bringing European artists and performances to their area, but this has reduced significantly in recent years.
As at previous questions, concerns about the negative impact of Brexit on the cultural sector were raised, and it was suggested that international ambitions and partnership will be key post-Brexit, if the draft strategy is to deliver on its vision of culture as 'open to the wider world'.
Ideas about how the approach could be framed included:
- creating a greater synergy between cultural engagement and broader national aims.
- developing a more strategic approach to supporting international ambitions and partnerships. Specifically, developing a new strategic national approach and resource for helping international opportunities develop to fruition.
- Creative Scotland could take a more collaborative approach to developing international programmes and look at international partnerships within Europe.
- where appropriate, such as for a National Performing Company, touring widely, bringing international artists to Scotland to exchange ideas and also creating international co-productions can all be important.
It was also suggested that culture has an important diplomatic function which should be acknowledged as part of the promotion of foreign policy.
In terms of how international ambitions are presented in the draft strategy, it was suggested that international connectivity should be presented earlier in the draft strategy, should recognise the importance of connectivity within the UK, or should be set out as an ambition rather than an action. It was also suggested that this section of the draft strategy could recognise more clearly that a global outlook is critical, not just for professional and national success, but also for individuals navigating their lives in our increasingly interconnected world.
Email: Donna Stewart