National Partnership for Culture minutes: 24 June 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the National Partnership for Culture held on 24 June 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture
  • Joanna Baker, Chair
  • David Stevenson
  • David Greig
  • Angiolina Foster
  • Nicola Killean
  • Hope Dickson Leach
  • Alan McFarlane
  • Heather Stuart
  • Robert Softley Gale
  • Matt Baker
  • Agnes Rennie
  • Briana Pegado
  • Jeffrey Sharkey


  • Darren McGarvey

Items and actions

1. Welcome – Joanna Baker (Chair)

  • The Chair thanked the group for their attendance and welcomed the Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture to the meeting.
  • The Chair recognised the value of the experience and expertise of the members, especially in light of the Covid-19 Crisis.
  • The Chair set out the main topics of discussion for the meeting: membership and remit, measuring change group and priorities for the coming months.

2. Welcome and Opening Remarks - Cabinet Secretary, Fiona Hyslop MSP

  • The Cabinet Secretary recognised the talent and experience of each of the core members and highlighted that in light of the current climate the groups insights and perspectives would be critical to the future of Scotland’s culture sector.
  • The Cabinet Secretary discussed A Culture Strategy for Scotland’s ambitions to strengthen culture and to transform and empower through culture, and that underpinning values remain central although the context has changed.

3. Introductions

  • The Chair introduced the Scottish Government officials attending.
  • The Cabinet Secretary thanked the group for their time and left the group to continue the call.
  • The Chair discussed the use of the meeting platform features to ensure everyone in the group would be able to participate. Members of the group introduced themselves to each other.

4. Membership and Remit

  • The draft remit of the group was discussed, and it was noted that in the Culture Strategy culture was defined generously to be as wide and inclusive as possible.
  • It was proposed that an objective be added to the remit covering on rebuilding better and the importance of securing the future of the sector.
  • It was agreed that digital would be considered as an implicit part of the delivery of the Culture Strategy.
  • The group discussed their ability to speak independently and to create publications. Scottish Government officials recommended as long as publications and any public speaking was done on behalf of the group rather than by individuals, there should be no conflict.
  • It was agreed that the remit ought to make specific reference to the context of COVID and the urgency caused for the sector.
  • FOR ACTION: A member of the group will draft lines on rebuilding better and securing the future of the sector to add to the Remit statement
  • FOR ACTION: The draft remit to be recirculated to the group once changes have been added.
  • FOR ACTION: Scottish Government officials to add a context statement at start of remit to highlight the urgency of the Covid-19 crisis.

5. Priorities for Action

  • The Chair noted the emerging political and social consensus that route to resilience and recovery implied more equality. An earlier publication from the Economic Recovery Group (published 22/06/2020) has spoken about the importance of culture in the economic recovery of Covid, not just how culture can flourish but how culture can help build back better.
  • There was a discussion of the risk of the arts being perceived as being used for political messaging. The group discussed the benefits and risks, and the best ways to work across different sectors to establish champions.
  • There was a discussion of the immediate impact of Covid and the struggle that individuals may be experiencing in receiving the correct information, particularly on working practices.
  • It was requested that the Scottish Government provide information on the financial landscape for culture, including budgets, gift aid and efficacy of spending. There was agreement that stakeholders from sectors which have surged during the crisis could be invited to share lessons.
  • There was a discussion of the benefits of the NPC meeting more quickly.
  • There was a discussion concerning data, the digital literacy gap and the impact (including on equalities) this would be having across the sector.
  • There was a discussion of how other Government policies can directly or indirectly affect culture, including reference to UBI, and the importance of creating an environment for culture to thrive.
  • There was a discussion of the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery report and its proposal of a National Arts Force – this could be used as a way of addressing inequalities and embedding culture in communities. There was a discussion of the importance of protecting artists as well as cultural infrastructure in response to the Covid crisis. It was agreed that whilst this is implied, it must be clearly communicated that this refers to human as well as physical infrastructure.
  • A member spoke of the need for champions and the need for culture to be joined up with other policy areas.
  • FOR ACTION: Scottish Government officials to send provision of spend documents to the group.
  • FOR ACTION: Priority themes to be confirmed: that in the context of urgency around COVID19 recovery and co-dependency of people and institutions, emerging key themes are inclusion/equalities, skills (including digital), wellbeing, resilience and transformation.
  • FOR ACTION: Scottish Government officials to send AGER report on culture.

6. Measuring Change Group

  • The Chair of the Measuring Change group, David Stevenson, gave an overview of the Measuring Change Subgroup. He spoke about the Performance Indicators and the need for better indicators that can speak to what success looks like, and what evidence is needed and invited the group to make suggestions on who could join the sub-group.
  • There was interest from several members in membership of the group.
  • It was suggested that various campaign and sector body groups may be able to feed their data into the group. The NPC Chair suggested that data from the AGER group could also be shared.
  • It was suggested that it would be useful to note the extent that Scottish Government adopts the ‘four capitals’ approach, and the commissioning of new baselines  (e.g. cultural infrastructure) that may be commissioned as a result.
  • FOR ACTION: NPC members to provide David Stevenson with suggestions on potential membership of the Measuring Change group. David Stevenson would approach the relevant parties.

7. AOB

  • FOR ACTION: To discuss offline exact timings for a future meeting – aiming for the next 4 weeks.
  • FOR ACTION: The Chair will facilitate informal contact among NPC members between meetings
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