A Culture Strategy for Scotland: draft for consultation

Public consultation document seeking views on a draft Culture Strategy for Scotland developed following engagement with people across Scotland during 2017.

1. A Culture Strategy for Scotland – reflecting the past, challenging the present, shaping the future

1.1 Introduction to the consultation

We want to hear your thoughts on what is proposed in this draft strategy, as the final strategy will respond to feedback received. There are a number of questions throughout the document and you are invited to answer as many or as few as you would like. We want to know about what is important to you personally, or as an organisation, and we also ask what, as an organisation, you can do to realise the vision and support the strategy’s ambitions and aims.

If you would like to host an event to discuss the draft strategy with your members, networks or organisations or groups you represent, we have a limited budget to support this. Please email culturestrategy@gov.scot for further information about the criteria for use of available funds. You can also share your event details and ideas about the strategy on Twitter by mentioning @culturescotgov and using the hashtag #culturescot.

This consultation seeks your views on the draft strategy that is set out below.

Although some actions are suggested within the draft strategy, and some will continue to be developed while the consultation is open, the consultation asks what you, your organisation, or what you think others can do, to help achieve and support the vision, ambitions and aims.

Feedback from this consultation will inform what actions are taken forward and will form the foundation of A Culture Strategy for Scotland which will be published later in 2018.

The strategy seeks to stimulate a step change that will bring about a shift in how society and government view and value culture. It aims to build collaborative alliances that will help to realise the full potential of culture for everyone and every community.

This journey has already started with the inclusion of a new national outcome for culture on the refreshed National Performance Framework, that is:

We are creative and our vibrant and diverse cultures are expressed and enjoyed widely.

This important development signifies that Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Government recognise the potential and importance of culture as an intrinsic part of Scotland’s wellbeing and that other policy areas should give consideration to it.

1.2 Introduction to the draft culture strategy


The draft strategy has been shaped by the views and comments of a broad range of people across the country. These include those who take part in culture in their free time, as well as many artists, creative producers and other cultural and creative professionals who make a living through creating, producing and supporting culture in Scotland. Feedback has also been received from those working in other areas and sectors that see the potential of culture to support wider social change.

The draft strategy and consultation continues the Scotland-wide culture conversation that began in early summer 2017.

Large public meetings, events, smaller meetings and conversations took place over a 9-month period in libraries, community and town halls, schools, Parliament, historic buildings, churches, theatres, galleries, offices, universities and colleges, museums and venues as well as online. This engagement followed the commitment of the Scottish Government in both A Plan for Scotland: The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government 2016-17 and A Nation with Ambition: The Government’s Programme for Scotland 2017-18 to develop A Culture Strategy for Scotland.

The conversations explored what matters most to people across the country, what is working well, where there is scope for change, and what the ambitions, aims and actions should be for supporting culture for everyone in Scotland now and in the future.

The main themes and ideas expressed by contributors during the engagement phase which act as the foundations of the draft strategy are detailed in the engagement phase report, linked at Annex A.

The draft strategy seeks to embed and elevate culture’s position across society, and is therefore of interest and relevance to many different audiences, including:

– the culture, heritage and creative sectors, all those who work or participate in them and their supporting organisations

– individuals and communities across Scotland

– the voluntary/third sector

– Scottish Government, local government and their stakeholders and partners

– people delivering public services, especially those tasked to tackle the fundamental challenges in Scotland today. This covers a wider range of public service roles in health and wellbeing, social care, education, community development and regeneration

– private business, enterprises and industry (for example tourism, energy and those who work internationally)

This draft strategy is the first culture strategy for Scotland in more than a decade and the third major strategy since the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999. [1]

This strategy builds on these and existing national and sector specific strategies which are already operating successfully across Scotland. These include Going Further – the strategy for Scotland’s museums and galleries; Our Place in Time – the historic environment strategy for Scotland; Scotland’s Public Libraries Strategy and the Creative Scotland strategies which focus on creative industries, film, arts and youth arts. This strategy has also drawn inspiration internationally, from good practice which exists across Europe and globally. Examples of particular interest include the German approach to supporting the freelance cultural workforce; [2] the value placed on indigenous culture by New Zealand; [3] and the open and democratic approach adopted by Ireland [4] and Quebec [5] . This draft strategy draws on these aspirations setting out ambitions, aims and actions for Scotland. These will require a shift towards greater partnership working, collaboration and cooperation amongst a range of organisations.

Themes from the engagement phase:

  • Valuing artists, creativity and innovation
  • Extending the view of culture
  • Establishing culture as a fundamental part of society
  • Recognising the role that culture has in other areas like health and wellbeing, education, energy and community empowerment
  • Promoting diversity and inclusion
  • Recognising the importance of young people, lifelong formal and informal education and skills development
  • Strengthening international working
  • Sustaining funding for culture
  • Empowering communities to have a greater say in how culture is delivered locally
  • Supporting cultural leadership
  • Articulating the impact and benefits of culture
  • Joining up across government and sectors

Wider context

The strategy is being developed at a time when interest and debate about culture – what it means to individuals, communities and as a country, and how best to support it – is high. At the same time, debate across society sees searching questions being asked about how institutions, organisations, businesses and communities can bring different types of knowledge and perspectives together to address society’s wider challenges, opportunities and changes in a technological world.

The way society is changing, particularly in response to the democratising and enabling power of technology, demands a more open, transparent and participatory approach to decision-making, policy development and leadership.

Scotland has always asked questions of itself in terms of its own future and place in the world. Most recently the Independence and Brexit Referendums of 2014 and 2016 have seen culture at the fore of the debates, helping to shape, express and debate the ideas that matter to society and illustrating the power of culture to engage people in the democratic process. Culture is intrinsically linked to the changes, conditions and values of the time, with wider developments and changes in society bringing both challenges and opportunities.

The culture strategy will be long term, broad in outlook and will seek to respond to the unprecedented pace and extent of change experienced in the last decade.

1.3 Definitions and scope

In response to the widespread views aired throughout the engagement phase that it is not the role of government to define culture and that an inclusive view of culture is needed, this strategy does not provide a definition of culture, creativity or heritage.

The strategy has a broad outlook that views culture as the way a society expresses itself and includes languages as well as many formal, informal, established, evolving and emerging forms of culture, heritage, creative expression and practice.

The following definitions of culture have been used as reference through the strategy’s development:

  • Unesco’s 1982 Mexico City Declaration on Cultural Policies [6] that describes culture as a range of features that characterise a society, stating that it is culture that gives humans the ability to reflect, refract, question, celebrate, respond and seek meaning through creativity; and
  • Calhoun and Sennett’s 2007 definition [7] that articulates culture as part of everyday life that is practised by everyone in a range of endless ways, including the established and more recognised forms of culture as well as the everyday and often less visible forms of culture.

The terms ‘culture sector’ or ‘culture sectors’ are used throughout this strategy in the broadest sense to mean anyone who derives a living from paid work associated with culture, creative activities, heritage or the arts as well as those who volunteer or have any other professional associations with it. The following definitions may be helpful:

  • (i) Arts – any creative or interpretive expression (whether traditional or contemporary) in whatever form. This may include, for example, visual arts, theatre, literature, music, dance, opera, film, circus and architecture and includes any medium when used for those purposes. [8]
  • (ii) Creative industries, including film and television production, animation, broadcasting, electronic games, architecture, design and fashion, publishing, media and advertising.
  • (iii) Cultural heritage including galleries, libraries, archives and museums, built and natural heritage, Scots and Gaelic languages and folk traditions (Intangible Cultural Heritage).

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Throughout this draft strategy, the terms ‘equality’, diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ are used in a way that is not constrained by legal definitions but are used in the broadest sense to help describe a wide range of issues faced by individuals in Scotland today. The terms are used to frame discussions about the issues faced by people in Scotland because they are living in poverty or because of where they live, as well as the protected characteristics set out under human rights legislation: age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; and sex as well as health and wellbeing and the rights of children and young people. Many people fall into several of these groupings and may experience multiple barriers to accessing culture or fulfilling a career in culture.

Culture as a force for good
This strategy concentrates on the positive aspects of culture in society and its potential to contribute to individual, community and national wellbeing and opportunity.

Through the engagement phase, three ambitions that underpin the whole strategy have been developed:

  • Transforming through culture
  • Empowering through culture
  • Sustaining culture


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