Culture strategy for Scotland consultation: analysis of responses - full report

Analysis report setting out the detailed findings of the public consultation on a draft Culture Strategy for Scotland.

Delivering "A Culture Strategy for Scotland"

The final culture strategy will highlight where individuals, communities, and organisations are already working towards the vision, ambition and aims of the draft strategy.

Question 12: Please provide details of any examples of good work and best practice, from Scotland or internationally, that you think could be included in the final strategy? We are interested in a range of different approaches.

Many respondents gave an example at Question 12, sometimes noting that they saw the organisations, initiatives or projects they cited as representing good practice or more generally as doing good work.

The examples given were diverse and the amount of supporting information supplied also varied considerably, from only a name or website link through to very extensive detail. Summary information on the suggestions made is set out at Annex 2 to this report.

There was considerable diversity and range in the nature of the examples given. These included local projects or organisations, local and national festivals, wider Scottish-based initiatives (often as an integral part of programmes run by organisations), as well as examples of national and international co-operation and collaboration.

In this context those responsible for national collections, whether of data or artefacts, were keen to highlight their ongoing work in widening access to their records through database development, online cataloguing and digitalisation. They highlighted the importance of this work in widening accessibility to such records to explore and document the wider context within which Scottish culture and cultural activities can be understood and developed by all. This includes widening access for individuals, communities, scholars, educational /research establishments, culture related organisations (both locally and nationally) and for all those involved, directly or indirectly, in potentially creating a robust culture strategy for Scotland and associated delivery programmes and activities.

In terms of specific organisations and projects identified, many of these reflected themes highlighted in the consultation document relating to widening access and working across policy areas. These included, for example, links to:

  • education, children and young people.
  • health, wellbeing and patient/care groups.
  • minority and marginalised groups.
  • disadvantaged and lower income communities and individuals.
  • culture as a catalyst in successful regeneration.

A number of examples related to the use of digital solutions, skills and applications including the use of 'state of the art' or 'cutting edge' technology and how these can be effective in taking culture to new audiences.

Other examples focused on successful approaches used in the delivery of culture-related services and activities including:

  • networking, collaboration and partnerships, including in rural areas or in multi-purpose venues or hubs.
  • pooling and sharing of resources.
  • providing support, services and skills to artists and the cultural workforce.

A number of specific festivals and events were also mentioned as either examples of good practice or as potential sources from which to learn.

Question 13: What can you or your organisation do to support the vision, aims, ambitions and actions of the strategy?

A number of organisations reported that their current work is very much in line with the vision and ambitions set out. Respondents sometimes referred to their own organisation's strategies, policies and actions as embracing key concepts highlighted in the draft strategy such as widening access, working in partnerships, collaborating, and extending and diversifying audiences.

Some respondents referred to existing activities or programmes which they felt were delivering important and relevant work, including in relation to health, education, volunteering and engaging marginalised communities. For example, one respondent commented that:

We aim to be the vehicle for ensuring marginalised, vulnerable and disadvantaged groups have access to quality, enriching cultural experiences, which give them a voice and the capacity for achieving social, environmental and cultural change.

(Culture organisation, body or group respondent)

Otherwise the range of activities and wider work very much reflected the diversity reported in answer to Question 12.

Some respondents noted that they would review their approach to ensure it is closely aligned with the final strategy or would be interested in being involved in the rollout of activity from the final strategy, for example by acting as:

….as an exemplar for the Culture Strategy ambitions, exploring new models of funding, public engagement and data analysis, working across disciplines to deliver innovative and inclusive solutions.

(Culture organisation, body or group respondent)

A Public Body respondent commented that they are ready and willing to work with the Scottish Government and in partnership with other policy sectors to enshrine the spirit of this draft strategy in public sector collaboration, to contribute to a detailed action plan and to realise its ambitions.

There was also a call for additional consultation and discussions so that local authorities can shape delivery of the ambitions and better understand the role they will play in realising the draft strategy's vision.

Others also commented on the role that they or others can play in delivering the draft strategy, including as partners, artists, consultants or volunteers. Those highlighting this potential ranged from retired professionals with particular culture-related expertise, through to organisations representing the views and interests of their members to the Scottish Government.

Some respondents offered to be exemplars or ambassadors for the draft strategy's ambitions through their own best practice or by providing case studies for the final strategy. Others saw scope to assist in promoting the final strategy internationally and attracting international cultural input and expertise to Scotland.

Respondents also identified ways in which they or their organisation could support the draft strategy. These included networking and being able to promote or facilitate partnership in culture, for example by:

  • building on/feeding into existing national/international partnerships.
  • providing contacts – either specialist or local.
  • providing advice and support in building culture and community partnerships with non-culture organisations.
  • developing new collaborations/collaborative programmes.

There was also specific reference to promoting the draft strategy in other sectors – especially in education and health, but also in policy areas such as regeneration.

Some respondents suggested they could play a role in training and skills development, including promoting diversity and the inclusion of minorities. For example, one respondent commented that they can support the draft strategy: terms of offering information, advice, training and consultancy on a number of areas such as physical and intellectual access.

(Third sector respondent)

Others felt they could contribute around widening access and diversifying audiences, often noting this approach is already critical to their work. For example:

… the infrastructure and expertise we have developed and the ethos with which we operate has provided the basis for establishing models of best practice, which are responsive and adaptable to the existing and emerging needs of Scotland's diverse and differing communities.

(Culture organisation, group or company respondent)

Other ideas around widening access included:

  • sharing items from collections.
  • further developing a new national collection of art for display, free of charge, in healthcare settings around Scotland.
  • focusing on widening access for rural communities.

A range of respondents offered specific technical skills to support the ongoing development of the draft strategy. The provision of research and information was one such area where the emphasis was on an ability to facilitate collaborative research, bringing together a range of skills and interests. The focus was on working together to improve the evidence base, including undertaking surveys, database development or impact studies on behalf of the Scottish Government and/or culture organisations/projects, where respondents already had experience. Others offered their consultation, mediation and workshop skills.

Other areas where specialist expertise and support were offered focused on:

  • funding solutions, such as the development and sharing of successful funding models, including experience in successful crowdfunding.
  • setting up new organisations and structures, as well as business and co-production models, which are likely to have wider applicability in the culture business.
  • promoting and developing digital applications, skills and technologies in culture including building digital capacity, providing guidance and support, and widening access/extending audience reach.
  • festival and event support.

Finally, some respondents made a commitment to continuing to provide awards and grants to support artists and/or cultural development in Scotland, including in new activity areas. There were also commitments to continuing to provide opportunities for internships, residencies, traineeships and apprenticeships.

Question 14: What do you think success for the strategy will look like?

A wide variety of views were expressed as to what is likely to constitute success for the draft strategy, and what success will look like, with some respondents giving an overall vision of what success would look like for them. Comments often focused on themes around inclusivity and engaged communities, with specific examples set out below:

The cultural landscape will be more inclusive, creating opportunities for all communities to engage and take advantage of cultural activity. Communities will be at the heart of decision making.

(Third sector respondent)

Real success … won't happen quickly but will be seen in successive generations across all of Scotland enjoying a richer, more rewarding personal and communal life, engaged in their communities, confident in their self-expression, and, where relevant, supported to pursue their creative ambitions to the very highest level.

(Academics, University, Higher Education

or Further Education respondent)

Respondents often thought success would be represented by culture having a much higher profile and increased perceived value across all policy areas and levels of government in Scotland – a theme very much reflected in responses to earlier consultation questions. There was particular reference to the importance of the new cultural leadership post role proposed and the support structures around it. The proposal for the post is covered at Question 5.

It was also suggested that success will be measured by how culture is represented across every policy area and that making culture a central part of policy across national and local government is an important aim, but one which needs to be communicated to all key decision makers and influencers. Specifically, it was suggested that organisations need to stop viewing culture as merely an 'add on', a 'desirable' rather than an 'essential', and certainly not as a 'luxury' that cannot be afforded.

Education was the policy area most often mentioned, with further comments including that from the earliest age, children should have a real understanding of what cultural experiences are and confidence in their right to access and engage with them. However, there were queries about how easy this representation of success for the draft strategy will be to deliver. For example, one respondent commented that:

While we know there is a focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects in schools, what we have seen is a reduction in the focus on arts, culture and creativity. Teachers are pushed for time and do not have the skills, knowledge or interest to pass this on.

(Cultural organisation, group or company respondent)

Areas highlighted as being key to success included health and wellbeing, and the scope of culture to deliver real and impactful difference to areas of need, such as health and wellbeing and social or rural isolation, was highlighted. It was suggested that the draft strategy should set out a more explicit commitment to fostering cross-sectoral, multi-disciplinary partnership working with a strong commitment to generating more joined-up thinking and working between the health and cultural sectors. It was also suggested that the work of a sports organisation in engaging NHS Trusts from across Scotland to evidence the impact of physical activity on health could offer learning for the culture sector.

For some, only evidence of an end to the perceived elitism of culture among those working in culture, among communities and the public, will be the true indicator of success:

When 'culture is for the elite' is forgotten and culture is

part of everyone's daily life.

(Individual respondent)

Wider access, irrespective of where someone lives and their socio-economic status, was also seen as being at the heart of a successful national strategy.

For some, existing cultural provision in Scotland is too focused on high-end outputs that are a crucial part of the national cultural offer, and that appeal mostly to visitors and tourists but only to a minority of Scottish residents. There was a call for priorities and activities to be more focused on Scotland's citizens and its diverse communities, including those with disabilities (including British Sign Language users), wider rural representation and specific cultural communities including Gaelic, Scots and Doric and minority populations. Shifting the gender balance of those accessing and attending cultural activities was also mentioned.

For some it is the focus on Glasgow and Edinburgh (and the Central Belt more widely) for cultural events that needs to change:

Broadening the scope of cultural events beyond Edinburgh, bringing investment to smaller towns and more rural locations, and broadening the cultural offer available in these places to be more inclusive and less exclusively Scotland focused.

(Individual respondent)

With respect to measuring such key aspects of success, the emphasis was very much on changes in approach and perception. Where specific measures were mentioned this was in terms of mapping cultural provision, monitoring or profiling attendances as well as tracking income from culture.

Moving on from these high-level indicators of success, ensuring that the draft strategy has 'teeth' and accountability was seen as important. The focus of comments was on prioritising and measuring, as well as effective monitoring and evaluation. These themes are covered further at Question 16 but, in summary, it was suggested that progress and success should be identified by:

  • the draft strategy having clear prioritised objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound, supported by an action plan that indicates how they will be resourced.
  • key indicators of success being specified as part of strategy development.
  • key milestones being achieved.
  • performance measures being identified, published and reported against.
  • forms of measurement being meaningful.

Other examples of success given were:

  • an improvement in the perceived value of culture among Scotland's population, beyond government and policy makers.
  • increased vibrancy, levels of confidence, creativity, diversity and quality in the culture offer, including the skills of practitioners working in the sector.
  • the development of new funding models and a 'shake up' in how funding is awarded.
  • a cultural workforce who can make a 'decent' living and who have career opportunities and pathways to progressing in their field.
  • Scotland is seen as a world leader in culture development, inclusion and provision, beyond the current Edinburgh Festivals.

Finally, it was noted that no matter what indicators or performance measures were used to gauge success, it must be understood that success will look different in each part of Scotland and will not look the same any two years in a row.


Email: Donna Stewart

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