National Partnership for Culture minutes: 23 July 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the National Partnership for Culture held on 23 July 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Joanna Baker, Chair
  • David Stevenson
  • David Greig
  • Angiolina Foster
  • Nicola Killean
  • Matt Baker
  • Jeffrey Sharkey
  • Robert Softley Gale
  • Hope Dickson Leach


  • Darren McGarvey
  • Agnes Rennie
  • Briana Pegado
  • Alan McFarlane
  • Heather Stuart

Items and actions

1. Welcome and Opening Remarks – Joanna Baker (Chair)

  • the Chair thanked the group for their attendance and set out the main topics of discussion for the meeting: minutes from previous meeting, remit, policy priorities, discussion on additional funding for culture from UK Government consequentials, concept paper discussion, presentation from David Grieg and an update on the measuring change group.

2. Agreement of minutes of last meeting and publication on

  • the group agreed that they are content with the content of the minutes from the previous meeting
  • for action: Minutes to be published on the Scottish Government website

3. Agreeing remit for the group

  • following discussion at the previous meeting, the group agreed to add an aim and context statement to the remit
  • the group discussed feedback that has been received concerning the lack of representation of the heritage and museums sectors within the group. The group noted that members were not selected to represent a particular sector, but for their individual skills and expertise, and that the group will continue to be alert to the needs of the whole culture sector in its widest sense. Individuals with expertise in different sectors will be invited to participate in relevant discussions at future meetings. 
  • for action: Remit and terms of reference of the group to be updated and published on the Scottish Government website

4. Policy priorities for the NPC

  • the group discussed priority policy areas for the NPC’s consideration and agreed to keep this as an ongoing topic for discussion
  • there was a strong consensus that the immediate policy priorities highlighted by a focus on renewal and the recovery of the sector include: equality, diversity, inclusion, skills and career development, wellbeing, education and the participation of young people. Supporting greater diversity in the sector was particularly emphasised, though it was noted that – like other priorities - this cannot be tackled in isolation, nor by culture alone.
  • the group discussed the importance of supporting forums for emerging cultural leaders to work and promote learning in cross-sectoral ways.
  • the group agreed that including relevant policy leads from across the Scottish Government in specific discussions would be extremely useful in promoting learning and collaboration across government portfolios, which is a central aim of the culture strategy. Education was mentioned as an initial priority.
  • it was proposed that the group could benefit from receiving insight from business and other sectors which have surged during lockdown, agreeing that learning across and between different disciplines is a useful topic for a future meeting
  • the group also discussed methods on how to better understand the financial resources available to culture, highlighting that there is need for clarity on the local authority picture as this is a major component of financing for culture in Scotland. Creative Scotland have undertaken recent research into this and the group agreed that it would be useful to have Creative Scotland to speak to the group to share findings.
  • for action: Scottish Government officials to approach Creative Scotland regarding having the individual leading on local authority spending research attend the next NPC meeting
  • for action: Joanna Baker to follow up with Alan McFarlane on recommendations for gaining insight from other sectors
  • for action: Joanna Baker and Jeffery Sharkey to continue education discussion

5. Additional Funding for Culture - Request for NPC input

  • Scottish Government Officials provided background information on the £97 million that will be made available to the Scottish Government through Barnett consequentials from the UK government
  • the group came to a general consensus that the funding should prioritise the ongoing creation of work and creative activities.. It agreed that training, innovation and skills development were important, and that to ‘build back better’ and in the spirit of the Culture Strategy for Scotland, included embedding equality and diversity into decision-making, including ensuring that artists and performers with disabilities and others hardest hit by the crisis are not left behind.
  • the group addressed the issue of the 12-month timescale for this funding, recognising the need to maximise opportunities for this funding and related policies to consider sustainability to avoid the sector being impacted by a ‘cliff-edge’ when those funds are exhausted. There was a strong consensus from the group that a strategic approach should be adopted when deciding how the funding is spent to find the right balance between support for longer-term initiatives and the meeting of immediate needs.
  • for action:: NPC members to provide further ideas on how this funding should be spent to SG colleagues by COB Monday 27 July

6. Concept Paper – Matt Baker

  • Matt Baker provided an overview on the concept paper developed by himself and Nicola Killean which took as its starting point the ‘National Arts Force’ priority recommendation in the Report of the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery, proposing ‘a new national network of inspirational creative practitioners to be embedded into our communities experiencing the greatest need’. This proposal incorporated the following guiding principles:
  1. a focus on people and communities, particularly ensuring targeted work for those who are most disadvantaged or vulnerable
  2. partnership working – arts and culture workers  must be embedded in the community network of existing cultural infrastructure and assets, creating work that is most relevant for that community.
  3. support for the freelance arts economy, by sustaining and creating new work for individuals and support structures for them to develop their practice sustainably. (Existing practitioners and emerging new graduates)
  • the group’s feedback included recognition of the paper’s alignment with the Culture Strategy for Scotland and the National Performance Framework and its relevance to successful community-led and place-making approaches to cultural engagement. The group recognised the importance of using existing models and approaches rather than ‘reinventing the wheel’.
  • the group agreed that governance structures should be proportionate to the amounts of funding and should not discourage innovation or risk-taking.
  • for action:: Development of a sub-group to develop this work forward

7. 'This Is Our Place’: ‘Putting producing venues at the heart of communities in Scotland' - David Greig

  • David presented and led a discussion on the importance of funding of arts spaces which create work, their importance to the life of communities and the capacity of communities to create their own culture.

8. Update on membership of Measuring Change Group: David Stevenson (Chair)

  • David Stevenson provided an update on progress made to finalise the membership of the subgroup, which will include academics and individuals with experience of working with culture data.
  • first meeting of the Measuring Change Group will take place in August 2020
  • for action:: members to provide any suggestion for membership to David Stevenson

9. Next steps: Workplan and timings of meetings

  • the group agreed that the next meeting will take place in a month, after which meetings are expected to take place every two months
  • for action:: members to provide suggestions on individuals to potentially attend future meetings/discussions
  • for action:: Create a priorities and work plan paper for submission to the Cabinet Secretary for Culture
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