Culture strategy for Scotland consultation: analysis of responses - summary

Report summarising analysis of the feedback to the public consultation on a draft Culture Strategy for Scotland.

Ambition 2: Empowering through culture

The draft strategy’s second ambition focuses on empowering through culture. The consultation paper describes culture as for, and of, each and every community across Scotland, with everyone having the opportunity to flourish through culture.

Ambition 2 - Empowering through culture: Opening up and extending culture so that it is of and for every community and everyone.

Question 6: What is your view of the ambition ‘Empowering through culture’?

Question 7: If you have further comments on the ambition, ‘Empowering through culture’ please provide them below. What do you like, dislike, or what would you change?

Table 4: Question 6 - What is your view of the ambition ‘Empowering 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 39 1 1 5 46
Faith Group 1     1 2
Local Authority or Culture Trust 14 1   1 16
National Collections and Performing Companies 9       9
Public Body 9   1 1 11
Representative or umbrella group 24   3 7 34
Third sector 12 1 1 2 16
Union or political party 4 1   1 6
Total organisations 118 4 6 18 146
% of organisations answering 92% 3% 5%    
Individuals 49 9 7 4 69
Individual (on behalf of a community) 1       1
Total Individuals 50 9 7 4 70
% of individuals answering 76% 14% 11%    
All respondents 168 13 13 22 216
% of all respondents 78% 6% 6% 10%  
% of all those answering 87% 7% 7%    

* 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 ‘Empowering through culture’ ambition. Organisational respondents were more likely to support the ambition than individuals (92% of those answering and 76% of those answering respectively).

Views of those who supported the ambition

Many respondents expressed general support for this ambition, including that it offers an accessible, inclusive approach and that it recognises the importance of community-based culture and disadvantaged communities.

However, there was a view that the ambition appears to take a top-down approach. In particular, the phrase ‘opening up and extending culture’ was seen as potentially implying that communities do not already engage in cultural activities, a suggestion that was seen as counter to the inclusive approach to culture which it is trying to promote.

It was suggested that the draft strategy could give more of a sense of the range of grassroots cultural activity currently thriving across Scotland. A number of respondents pointed to current projects they saw as being in line with the ambition or suggested that the draft strategy would complement, or could build on, existing initiatives.

Respondents often agreed with the emphasis placed on communities and place, perceiving that grassroots culture could be valued more. They expressed support for the draft strategy’s recognition that local culture is just as important as national and more formal or public forms of culture. The importance of encouraging communities to feel ownership of their cultural assets was highlighted, as was the need for more emphasis on listening to what communities want.

A number of respondents highlighted issues associated with funding, often pointing to the degree to which existing grassroots projects rely on volunteers or referencing the effects of recent cuts in public spending. Comments included that:

  • the role of volunteers should be highlighted, alongside a recognition of the importance of experienced professionals.
  • although volunteer-run groups are often self-funding, there is a need for strategic, developmental support and seed funding initiatives to boost capacity.
  • without proper resources, there is risk of burn out or disillusionment at grassroots level.

Views of those who did not support the ambition

The small number of respondents who did not support the ambition suggested ambition that people on low incomes are taking part in culture, but not the culture that the government funds. Others raised issues regarding aspects of the scope or wording, reflecting similar themes to those who supported the ambition.

Question 8: Please provide comments on the aims and actions under this ambition. What do you like, or dislike, or what would you change?

Aim 1: Extend the view of culture to include the everyday and emerging, the established and more formal.

Action 1: Promote an inclusive and extended view of culture which recognises and celebrates the value and importance of emerging, everyday and grassroots culture and creativity.

Among comments welcoming Aim 1 were that it resonates in island communities where respect for established traditions is evident in many aspects of life and core to defining cultural identity. It was also noted that Scotland has a wealth of migrant cultures that are often overlooked, and it was suggested that this aim places value on cultural diversity. Issues raised with respect to Aim 1 included that it requires better explanation, is too all-inclusive, or that clarity around how quality will be recognised, and success measured, is required.

The emphasis on emerging, every day and grassroots culture and creativity at Action 1 was welcomed by a number of respondents, although it was noted that there is no practical detail on how this would be promoted. The perceived absence of a role for quality and excellence was also noted, with an argument that excellence does not equate to elitism and can apply at grass roots level.

Aim 2: Develop opportunities for people to take part in culture throughout their lives.

Action 2: Develop an approach that supports long-term partnerships between cultural and creative organisations, businesses and organisations in Scotland’s most deprived communities, including schools, care homes and organisations working towards achieving social justice.

Amongst respondents who expressed support for Aim 2, some gave examples of groups already providing opportunities to participate. The importance of exposure to culture at an early age was often highlighted, with a suggestion that early years policy should be referenced explicitly throughout the draft strategy.

Comments about the wording of Action 2 included that:

  • people in their own homes and unable to access cultural activities should also be supported.
  • early years should be included.
  • the draft strategy should seek to support culture for everyone from all walks of life.
  • local authorities and Integrated Joint Boards have a role to play in forming partnerships.

Aim 3: Recognise each community’s own local culture in generating a distinct sense of place, identity and confidence.

Action 3: Explore ways in which people can have a greater say in shaping the cultural life of their communities including participatory models of decision-making and community ownership.

A number of respondents noted their support for Aim 3, including a suggestion that it is one of the most important aims in the draft strategy. The importance of communities feeling valued was highlighted, especially through the culture of a place.

Comments on Aim 3 were that it is potentially insular or limiting, or that there is a risk that only the ‘cultural elite’ within a community will participate.

Several respondents specifically welcomed Action 3, with comments including that:

  • it is innovative or critical to the success of the draft strategy.
  • the wording is vague or could be strengthened as there is currently insufficient detail.
  • the draft strategy needs to convince people that empowering is genuinely about engagement with communities and enabling self-determination.

Comments on participatory budgeting included that this can be challenging and must not become a burden to communities. It was argued that co-creation/co-production requires local infrastructure and experience and that, while participatory budgeting models may be suitable in areas with a large population, smaller rural communities may not have adequate capacity.

Ambition 3: Sustaining culture

The third ambition set out in the draft strategy focuses on sustaining culture. Specifically, it refers to recognising that culture and creativity are central to Scotland’s cultural, social and economic prosperity to:

  • 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.
  • value, trust and support creative people - for their unique and vital contribution to society and the economy.
  • Encourage greater openness and diverse cultures to reflect a changing Scotland in the 21st century.


Email: Donna Stewart

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