Inspiring Connections: Scotland's International Culture Strategy

This strategy aims to support Scotland's culture and creative sector to be globally connected with the means and opportunities to achieve its international ambitions and potential, and contribute to Scotland’s cultural, social, economic and environmental wellbeing through its international work.

Delivering the International Culture Strategy

This section outlines how this strategy will be delivered. This will be an iterative process that engages individual practitioners and organisations within the culture and creative sector as well as the wider Scottish public sector. Some of the work set out can be taken forward immediately, other areas will need further consideration and groundwork to be undertaken.


The actions outlined throughout this document will have various timescales, but as a whole this strategy will apply 2024 to 2030 with periodic review. This timescale will allow for the development, delivery and evaluation of the range of proposed outcomes and evaluation of the impact of the strategy on intended outcomes.


  • An innovative, more sustainable and economically stronger culture and creative sector
  • An internationally connected and diverse culture and creative sector that contributes positively to people and communities
  • An enhanced international reputation for culture and creativity including Scotland’s response to global challenges

These high-level outcomes set out what we seek to achieve in the next six years. The success of the strategy will be considered in relation to these outcomes. As such, a theory of change model is being developed to outline why and how change might happen and to document the evidentiary indicators that will be used to measure and demonstrate change.

As outlined in the Outcomes Framework the strategy’s outcomes have been developed in consideration of Scotland’s National Performance Framework outcomes, and responses to the International Culture Strategy consultation survey undertaken in 2023.

The Scottish Government will work with delivery partners to develop a detailed outcomes framework to inform the theory of change. This will explain how existing and upcoming work, including actions in this strategy and any further actions developed with delivery partners, are contributing towards achieving the strategy’s outcomes.

An accompanying monitoring and evaluation plan will be produced to support progress towards the strategy’s vision and provide accountability.

The theory of change will connect with wider work put forward in the Culture Strategy Action Plan in December 2023 to improve the data landscape relating to the culture and creative sector.

  • The Scottish Government will work with partners to develop a detailed theory of change for capturing impact from policy actions associated with the strategy, tracking progress, and supporting adaptation, building on the outcomes framework outlined here.

Delivery partners

Scottish Government international networks

Culture is important to the role of the Scottish Government’s network of international offices. It is a tool through which they can highlight their presence in their host country and develop further links. These offices also have an important role in creating opportunities for cultural organisations to develop relationships and access the markets in those countries.

There are a number of strong examples of activity of this kind where relationships between the offices, stakeholders in their host countries and Scottish cultural organisations have developed new opportunities for cultural export and exchange, and in doing so has highlighted the presence and role of the Scottish Government office to a wider range of interests. The Scottish Government will continue to assess how such mutually beneficial relationships can be established and put on a sustainable footing through its presence in particular territories.

Case study - Festival Interceltique de Lorient

The Festival Interceltique de Lorient is an annual celebration of Celtic culture held in Lorient, France. It brings together Celtic nations and regions from around the world to showcase their music, dance, literature, cuisine, and heritage. The festival is a vibrant platform for cultural exchange and collaboration.

In 2023, the Scottish Government collaborated with Showcase Scotland Expo and the Traditional Music Scotland Association to highlight Scottish artists. Approximately 7,000 visitors engaged with the Scottish presence. The platform it provided allowed artists involved to showcase their work internationally not just through the festival itself, but also more widely through French media, increasing their reach and their audiences.

Building on the success of the event in 2023, the Scottish Government France Office is planning for the 2024 edition with a focus on youth. It will collaborate once again with Fèis Rois and Showcase Scotland Expo to support young Gaelic singers and artists to showcase the richness and diversity of Scotland’s cultural landscape. By placing an emphasis on youth involvement, the Scottish Government will support intergenerational connections and the continued vitality of Celtic traditions.

The Scottish Government’s involvement in the Festival Interceltique de Lorient serves as a testament to our commitment to promoting Scottish culture on an international stage. Through strategic partnerships and initiatives, we have successfully showcased Scottish talent while fostering meaningful exchanges with Celtic communities worldwide.

The Scottish Government has a number of memorandums of understanding with countries and regions around the world, often with a strong focus on cultural collaboration. It will work with our international networks to explore how formal agreements such as these can be built upon to deliver increased impact for the culture and creative sector.

  • The Scottish Government’s international offices will enhance their ability to open opportunities for Scotland’s culture and creative sector in their host countries.

Brand Scotland

Brand Scotland is a strategic cross-organisational partnership which brings together the marketing and communications efforts of the Scottish Government, key public sector organisations, including Creative Scotland, and wider partners behind a shared brand narrative and positioning to deliver a collaborative, audience-first nation brand strategy. Scotland’s nation brand embodies our values and tells the stories of our unique culture and heritage, while also celebrating our country’s dynamism, progressiveness and innovation. It reinforces the positive perceptions we must consistently build for Scotland with international audiences, to drive consideration of Scotland as a place to live and work, study, visit or do business.

Our creativity and culture are fundamental to who we are and how others see us, and is a key theme used by Brand Scotland to tell our story internationally.

Given the centrality of culture to Scotland’s international image, it is not surprising that it is a key element of how we present ourselves internationally as a dynamic, fair and inclusive nation. It can open doors and can be the basis of wider engagement. While traditional images of Scotland can build connections, if we wish to convey the strength and vibrancy of contemporary culture in Scotland, attracting visitors and supporting opportunities for the sector, we must ensure that it continues to be represented in the materials we use to promote Scotland.

  • The Scottish Government and partners will promote Scotland and its contemporary culture abroad as an important global centre for culture and creativity which is diverse, identifying and capitalising on key international opportunities and events, including through Brand Scotland activities.
Performers outside St Giles Cathedral on The Royal Mile during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. VisitScotland/Kenny Lam
A man standing on top of another’s man shoulders on a crowded street

Scottish Connections

Scotland shares connections with different parts of the world for historical, linguistic, or cultural reasons. Heritage diaspora communities are concentrated in areas to which there has been significant migration such as North America or Australia. It also shapes the diversity of communities within Scotland who maintain cultural and family connections with their ancestral homes.

The Scottish Government’s definition of diaspora goes beyond ancestry. It includes alumni of Scotland’s world-leading universities, who welcome tens of thousands of international students every year, providing a vast, diverse and young network of international citizens who entrusted Scotland with one of the biggest decisions anyone can make. It also includes anyone who has lived in Scotland at any time for any reason, whether they were born in Scotland and later emigrated, or those from elsewhere who returned home after a period working in Scotland. And it includes anyone with an affinity to Scotland – Scots by inclination – who may have visited our country as tourists or simply be attracted to our culture, history or values.

These connections present opportunities to build relationships and open doors for Scotland’s culture and creative sector, whether that be in access to new markets and networks, or in terms of philanthropic relationships. The Scottish Government’s Scottish Connections Framework sets out how we will build relationships with Scotland’s diverse diaspora communities across the world. It contains a number of commitments to develop our cultural connections, including involving our network of GlobalScots in promoting the sector and supporting cultural connections with organisations and individuals around the world. It also commits to adding business professionals from the culture and creative sector to the network, and involving GlobalScots in the development of Scotland’s culture policy and cultural connections.

  • The Scottish Government will work with partners to deliver the commitments in the Scottish Connections Framework related to GlobalScots who operate in the cultural and creative spheres. This will include leveraging their business networks and connections to support the Framework’s aims relating to the promotion of Scotland’s culture and creative sector internationally.

National Bodies

Creative Scotland, inclusive of Screen Scotland, is the organisation which supports the culture and creative sector across all parts of Scotland. It is a non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Scottish Government and receives funding from both the Scottish Government and the UK National Lottery. International is one of Creative Scotland’s four strategic priorities.

Historic Environment Scotland is the lead body for the historic environment sector in Scotland. It is Scotland’s largest visitor attraction operator, managing over 300 culturally significant properties of national importance on behalf of Scottish Ministers, including Edinburgh Castle, Skara Brae, and Fort George, and employing 1,400 people across Scotland. HES is also responsible for an internationally significant collection of drawings, photographs, manuscripts, and aerial photographs. It works nationally and internationally to advance education, skills, and research in heritage. Through its grants programme, £14 million a year is invested annually to support building repairs, ancient monuments, archaeological work, and conservation.

Museums Galleries Scotland is the national body for Scotland’s collections. It has a role in supporting the sector to: engage with international partners; identify and take up opportunities for international working; access support for such work; and to share good practice and learning across the sector to inspire others. Its role can support Scotland’s museums and galleries to engage with international work and the ambitions of this strategy.

British Council Scotland’s work in this area focuses on supporting the development of cultural connections to enable the Scottish art sector to work successfully internationally and engage with international opportunities. Brokering relationships, facilitating connections and providing advice to the sector and international contacts is core to the British Council’s role, and working in partnerships with key Scottish stakeholders informed by knowledge from their global network results in a range of activities and initiatives that support international cultural engagement.

National cultural institutions

Scotland’s National Performing Companies and National Collections are directly funded by the Scottish Government. The performing companies have access to the International Touring Fund to support them to tour internationally. The Scottish Government encourages our national cultural institutions to develop connections with Scottish Government offices abroad and will work to support those connections to ensure that these organisations’ international activity reinforces Scotland’s international connections for mutual benefit.

  • We will work together to strengthen communication channels between Scotland’s national cultural organisations and Scottish Government external relations policy functions to allow for closer collaboration and early engagement when international activity is being planned.

Scotland’s culture and creative sector

Ultimately this strategy is intended to support the development of Scotland’s culture and creative sector as a whole. In order to ensure the effectiveness of the strategy and the actions it puts forward we will put in place channels for the sector to support its delivery and engage directly within the development of work that flows from it.

  • The Scottish Government will establish a sector reference group to support delivery of this strategy and ensure that the cultural and creative sector has ownership and opportunities to shape work under it.


We are increasing funding to the culture and creative sector by £15.8m next financial year to £196.6m. This is the first step on the route to investing at least £100m more annually in culture and the arts by the financial year 2028/29. In 2025/2026 we aim to provide an additional £25m to the culture sector. Through this increased investment we want to drive up opportunities for participation in creative pursuits, support the production of new works, and ensure that Scotland’s cultural output has platforms at home and abroad. To support the delivery of this strategy and secure resource where necessary we will fully engage with processes around the allocation of this additional funding.

  • The Scottish Government will make the case for international cultural activity and the actions outlined in this strategy in budgetary processes, working to secure resource to support delivery.

The Scottish Government will also consider the existing funding instruments and routes to support that facilitate international cultural activity in light of this strategy. Doing so will ensure strategic coherence and that existing models continue to have the largest impact that they can. Ensuring equitable access to support will be at the heart of any proposed changes that come out of this exercise.

  • The Scottish Government will review existing funding for international cultural activity in the light of the principles and activity outlined in this strategy to ensure it remains coherent and appropriate to the current context.



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