National Partnership for Culture minutes: 4 September 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the National Partnership for Culture held on 4 September 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Joanna Baker (Chair)
  • Robert Gale
  • Heather Stuart
  • Jeffery Sharkey
  • Agnes Rennie
  • Alan McFarlane
  • Hope Dickson Leach
  • Briana Pegado
  • Matt Baker
  • David Greig
  • David Stevenson
  • Nicola Killean
  • Kenny McGlashan
  • James McNulty (SG Sec)
  • Diane McLafferty (SG)
  • Gary Cameron (Creative Scotland)


  • Darren McGarvey

Items and actions


  • Joanna Baker welcomed those joining and shared apologies from those unable to attend. Joanna also introduced Gary Cameron, who joined the meeting for updates from Creative Scotland for emergency support and local government provision.
  • thanks was given to Matt, Nicola and Heather for their work on the Culture Collective working group.
  • Joanna highlighted the need to create a work plan and aims for the group covering its longer-term mandate.

Update on emergency support for culture

  • James McNulty discussed the Creative Scotland announcement covering £57 million of the £97 million on 03 September 2020. Overall £82 million of the £97 million has been allocated, with announcements to be made shortly.
  • Gary Cameron spoke of the eligibility criteria for these funds being developed, including for hardship funds, and noted that Creative Scotland are working in consultation with sector bodies on this and to use existing mechanisms where possible. Gary clarified that that hardship funds would be dedicated to those that cannot practice, and the Open Fund and Culture Collective would focus on creating new work. Gary recognises that the funds will not cover all needs, and that Creative Scotland understands this will be difficult for individuals and organisations. 

Update from Culture Collective working group

  • Matt Baker discussed the working group formed since the last meeting of the NPC. The group has met three times in this time to develop a paper based on the initial proposals from the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery. Since then, the budget has been significantly scaled back to £1.5m, and on that basis the working group is now developing a community-led pilot project based on five initial locations and with potential to scale nationally, and will submit a finalised paper for Creative Scotland to take forward with a November launch date in mind.
  • the pilot project proposes to identify a number of creative organisations across the country embedded in their local communities who will be supported to develop a regional plan to target need heightened by Covid in communities, involve a number of different sectors, align with local cultural planning, and be delivered by freelancers.
  • David Stevenson highlighted the importance of experimentation as a key feature of being able to learn from a pilot project, and the creation of an appropriate evaluation framework to consider scalability.
  • Hope Dickson Leach noted the importance of taking geographical spread into account, and the importance of capacity-building and ensuring recognition of importance of contribution of freelancers to strategy thinking.
  • Briana Pegado noted that most freelancers work across more than one discipline.
  • Joanna noted a potential role for the NPC in ensuring thinking on role of freelancers is across the whole sector rather than in individual silos.
  • the NPC confirmed its support for the principles of this initiative and agreed to continue to champion the roll out of a national programme in the future, taking on board the evaluation of this pilot.

Local government provision of culture

  • during the development of the Culture Strategy, Creative Scotland held a joint event with Scottish Government and local authorities. Research was commissioned which concluded in February.
  • key findings include cuts impacting on the range and quality of services provided by some local authorities, the benefits of creating cultural trusts (including financial benefits) which have now plateau’d, and noting the pressures mounting on provision of non-statutory services. Findings included a need for strategic engagement with CoSLA and an articulation of a national vision for the role of Local Authorities in sustaining culture, in line with the ambition of the Culture Strategy for Scotland.
  • David Greig noted the important role for local authorities in working with arts organisations on community, licensing, outdoor work and in schools.
  • Joanna noted the role of the NPC in supporting that ambition.

Local authorities and Culture

  • Heather Stuart noted the range of cultural activity in different parts of Scotland, and examples of innovative partnerships, and opportunities that have come out of the community empowerment act. Much of this is defined by local political priorities.
  • Heather also discussed the prevalence of cultural trusts in Scotland, noting the significant increase of arms-length bodies’ delivery of culture. Their success in diversifying their sources of income has increased their vulnerability to the impact of COVID, with the large variability between local authorities’ capacities playing a role.
  • the well-being economy was discussed, including the potential for more convergence between culture and wellbeing, for example in supporting mental health. Nicola noted the introduction of the domestication of UNCRC into Scottish law as an opportunity.
  • Alan suggested that COVID has advanced the argument for a universal basic income (UBI) and also spoke of potential lessons to be learned from the investment approach of Scottish Enterprise in the 1970’s with regards to co-investing in culture in a way that encourages risk-taking.
  • Briana supported UBI and noted that a more entrepreneurial sector allows more people to engage and more diversity as there are fewer barriers to entry, and noted that cultural endeavours are not scalable in the same way as other businesses.
  • David Stevenson encouraged Creative Scotland to develop their own model of impact and noted the downsides of incentivising competition in the sector.

Update on Measuring Change Group

  • Linda Campbell from Glasgow Life has been added to the group, still looking for economists for the group. The focus of the group is what is the evaluation strategy for the Culture Strategy and who’s responsible for it?
  • meetings are planned to discuss outcomes and data sources to evidence potential outcomes. Meetings are currently expected to be monthly.
  • a brief discussion took place on how the different groups will work together.

Culture and Education

Arts in Education Recovery Group

  • Nicola Killean discussed the formation of the group and the involvement of herself and Sistema Scotland.
  • Kenny McGlasham talked to a powerpoint presentation giving an overview of the group. 18 organisations are involved, supported by Creative Scotland, Education Scotland and Culture Counts.
  • Kenny also brought the Time to Shine Sector Steering Group to the attention of the group, who have been working together in a new way since the end of last year.
  • Joanna led a brief discussion with Kenny of the aims of the AiERG and noted the potential for NPC to work on this subject and to help build on what has been done.
  • Hope asked if there was any opportunity to widen the discussion to encompass different art forms – crafts, visual arts, writing, coding etc.
  • Briana asked if there was scope for Skills Development Scotland to be included in the group due to the need to broaden what is meant by education and reach more of Scotland’s young people like apprentices.

Culture and Education

  • Jeffery Sharkey led a discussion on the power of creative education and social safety nets to help young people take risks and adapt to change, and welcomed the approach of the AIERG.
  • David Stevenson noted structural problems within the education system and warned of the danger of creating desire and demand for careers that cannot be delivered on.
  • Briana noted an inconsistency between the notion that creative industries are one of the fastest growing sectors and the fact that opportunities remain limited, with young people facing many barriers to entry. Briana talked of the potential of transferable skills developed through the arts to help prepare young people for a future society.
  • Kenny discussed the importance of learning from other countries, and the potential for programmes within Scotland that already work to be rolled out more widely.
  • Alan suggested a role for the NPC in communicating about how and where culture funds are spent and where this is too bureaucratic. Alan also noted his support of a rights-based approach.

Scotland’s Cultural Recovery – NPC’s contribution to developing thinking and facilitating the debate

  • Joanna proposed to the group the idea that the NPC could play a role in convening a conversation about recovery and what culture in Scotland will look like in the next 5 years. Matt suggested several potential themes, including culture and enterprise, culture and well-being and the importance of linking to different areas of government policy. Joanna noted that a core focus on the intrinsic value of culture and creative excellence is the starting point when discussing these themes.
  • Jeffery spoke about the need to include Government ministers, for example those responsible for finance and education.
  • Nicola supported a focus on wellbeing and noted her contact with senior leaders in this space (for example in social work and children’s services).
  • the decision was taken to discuss the bulk of this offline due to time constraints.
  • Joanna noted that some work would be done to propose and refine a workplan for the NPC


  • the group agreed to meet again in two months, and the Secretariat would propose dates for the following two or three meetings.
  • Briana, Nicola, Heather and Joanna will work off-line discuss the possibility of an event or summit.
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