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 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
Faith Group 1     1 2
Local Authority or Culture Trust 12   1 3 16
National Collections and Performing Companies 9       9
Public Body 9   1 1 11
Representative or umbrella group 26   1 7 34
Third sector 13   1 2 16
Union or political party 4 1   1 6
Total organisations 121 2 5 18 146
% of organisations answering 95% 2% 4%    
Individuals 53 9 3 4 69
Individual (on behalf of a community) 1       1
Total Individuals 54 9 3 4 70
% of individuals answering 82% 14% 5%    
All respondents 175 11 8 22 216
% 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 (94% of those answering and 82% of those answering respectively).

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.

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 to be taken from outside the culture sector.

Many of the further comments addressed funding issues, including that:

  • supporting the capacity and resilience of the sector will be key and that this will require financial investment.
  • although additional funding can be levered in from other sources, such as the private sector, stable Government funding is crucial.
  • 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.

In addition to funding issues, 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.

The importance of looking outward was recognised. 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.

There was support for the draft strategy’s focus on skills development and for the recognition of the role of freelancers. 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.

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.

In terms of 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 culture sector.

Views of those who did not support the ambition

Those who did not support the ambition suggested the associated aims and actions are not bold enough, or that culture does not need money to flourish. There was a view that by ‘developing the conditions for culture to thrive’, and linking this to the economy, restrictions could be placed on whose culture we are promoting as correct or acceptable.

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, respondents often made a broad statement of support for the aims and actions set out, with further points 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 could more obviously flow from the aims.

Not all respondents supported the aims and ambitions and it was felt that Government does not have a role to play in most of the areas covered under the sustaining culture theme, other than to provide arm’s length funding.

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.

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.

Action 2: Develop programmes to support skills development, leadership and innovation to prepare for the future including digital.

Many of the further comments at Question 11 focused on exploring new funding models to support the culture sector. Although there was significant support for the action, there were also calls for more explanation of what new models might look like, and a query about whether the Scottish Government would take the lead in determining these new 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 for a move away from short-term and piecemeal funding to a more sustainable, strategic and long-term approach.

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 consider, or be able to support, comments included that they should place greater emphasis on cultural participation and inclusion at local level and through the third sector and grassroots activity. It was also suggested that the value, and continuing future importance, of major cultural institutions as hubs for generating increased investment should be recognised.

On Action 2, some respondents noted their support for developing programmes to support skills development, leadership and innovation to prepare for the future. With specific reference to the digital element, comments included that it should be embedded throughout the draft strategy.

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. The role of key strategies such as Developing the Young Workforce was also noted.

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.

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.

Some respondents noted their agreement with the aim, although it was suggested that reference could be given to supporting deaf people develop their professional networking and marketing skills, so they are better able to access wider society.

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 sectors.

Many respondents noted their agreement with Action 3, with comments including 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.

In terms of how this action could be taken forward, ideas included that greater investment in skills development and training is needed and that support should begin at school age through support for creative arts learning.

Suggestions that related specifically to freelance workers included that the cultural leadership post (Action 1 under Transforming culture) could encourage new ways of supporting freelance workers.

An alternative perspective was that successful artists and crafts people are already highly regarded and that the draft strategy’s comments on the practice of freelance work are far too broad, simplistic and applied too expansively.

Aim 3: Encourage greater openness and diverse cultures to reflect a changing Scotland in the 21st century.

Action 4: Increase inclusive opportunities to broaden the backgrounds of those working and volunteering in the culture sectors.

Action 5: Develop a longer term and more strategic approach to supporting international ambitions and partnerships across the breadth of the culture sector.

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 that they are key to our cultural wealth. It was also suggested that openness to difference and inclusion are fast becoming a hallmark of both Scotland’s reputation internationally and its understanding of itself.

Some respondents noted their agreement with Action 4. 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.

With reference to volunteering, while recognising the vital role volunteers play, it was seen as important that those who are professionally trained should not be expected to work for inadequate or no pay.

Finally, it was suggested that it might be helpful for the draft strategy to articulate how tolerance of cultural expression may be promoted and encouraged.

On Action 5, 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. The impact of budget restraints on this type of internationally focused working, and concerns about the potentially negative impact of Brexit on the cultural sector, were raised again.

In terms of how international ambitions are presented in the draft strategy, it was suggested 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

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