Economic recovery: Culture Sub Cttee Report

Jun 25 2020 | By More

Arts, Culture and Creative Industries in Scotland’s Economic Recovery

The culture sub committee of the ScotGov’s advisory group on economic recovery from Covid-19 has provided a pragmatic but largely forward thinking report to the main group.

It recognises the importance of the sector, both in terms of physical cultural “assets” but also the number of people who are employed in cultural endeavours and the skills they bring.

Members of the sub group: Joanna Baker (chair), Isabel Davis and Jonathan Mills

In terms of recovery from the Covid crisis and strategies for going forward, the report recognises the potential for those who work in the cultural sector to be key workers in any strategy for social recovery.

A “National Arts Force” would be formed, although one of the specific tasks in helping with “blended learning” in schools has been somewhat overtaken by events with John Swinney’s announcement that Scottish schools will be going back full time in August 2020.

Events over the last few months regarding the Black Lives Matter movement, the strong voice which disabled artists have raised about their differing needs, and the realisation that online performance can reach hitherto under-represented audiences have fed a small, but hopefully significant element of the report.

Members of the sub group: John Leighton, Dr Bridget McConnell and Alistair Mackie.

The sub committee was chaired by Joanna Baker, ex MD at the EIF on the chair. Joining her were head of Screen at Creative Scotland Isabel Davis; former EIF boss Jonathan Mills; DG of the National Galleries John Leighton; CEO of Glasgow Life Dr Bridget McConnell, and RSNO CEO Alistair Mackie.

The Report in full

Following our news story on the cultural element of the main report, here is the full text of the sub committee’s report (emphasis is our own).

The Arts, Culture and Creative Industries make an important and growing contribution economically, socially and culturally to Scotland – stated by the First Minister and The Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture in the recently published Culture Strategy for Scotland (28 February, 2020).

The sector employs high quality, fulfilling jobs and these can be amplified through specialist apprenticeships, skills development and training. The sector is inherently innovative and entrepreneurial and can be integrated into recovery and development work right across the economy with particular emphasis on health, education including blended learning, tourism, leisure and overall wellbeing.

Many organisations in the sector have successfully developed multiple streams of income to become less reliant on public money; these income streams are unlikely to return for a year or more, resulting in a sector that is now acutely vulnerable.

There does need to be a form of bridging to avoid losing the sector whilst Scotland recovers a fully re-opened state. Priority actions to ensure the sector’s contribution to the cultural, social and economic success of Scotland as outlined in the National Culture Strategy should include:


• Establish strategy for physical cultural infrastructure, much of which is publicly owned. This could be in the form of a Heritage Renewal Fund to invest in heritage buildings and assets – linking to apprenticeships in the construction and specialist industries to help develop new skills and would include the protection of moveable heritage assets including collections and libraries, which need specialist curation.

Jobs and growth:

• Establish workforce strategy such as a National Arts Force to harness our vast range of talent and knowledge, including artists, designers, performers, technicians including in the gig and freelance economies, working in schools, care homes and communities to ensure that the connection to cultural activity delivered through regional partnerships make a real and sustained contribution to the recovery of the socially inclusive wellbeing economy and building resilient, cohesive communities.
Arts, creative industries and culture have a great contribution to make to the delivery of ‘blended learning’. Such a scheme could include designers and technicians working on repurposing and reimagining public spaces, health care facilities and venues for social distancing.

Digital Growth:

• Establish a Digital Growth Fund potentially linked to fiscal incentives to ensure that digital capability and content across the Scottish Arts, Culture and Creative Industries is developed to ensure the development of new skills and socially inclusive reach throughout Scotland’s communities as well as international promotion of the sector.

Contribution to the knowledge economy:

• The Arts, Culture and Creative Sector has a significant relationship with Scotland’s knowledge economy, with world-leading institutions and high quality graduates and research. The creative industries are developers and users of innovation, tech and emergent forms of creative practice and should be brought together with Research Council backed projects to ensure that the outcomes have real world impact.
As perhaps with other sectors, university knowledge exchange in the creative industries space risks being overly supply led: while many courses and institutions benefit from links to active industry practitioners and companies, there is scope to increase this significantly through more effective partnerships creating increased value for students in terms of quality of education and greater opportunity to impact upon their chosen sector.
Such a change requires structural intervention that would need to be incentivised in the partnership agreements between HE/FE institutions and funding partners.


• As made clear in the First Minister’s introduction to the National Culture Strategy, that “culture is a cross-government priority”, all Scottish Government portfolios should now put in place evidence based cultural activity that will contribute/support the delivery of their outcomes using 1% of their budgets, where culture and the creative industries can contribute across their remit.

Fiscal incentives:

• Put in place fiscal measures to support the sector from major infrastructure investment such as City Deals, contributions from 5G licence holders to development of digital capability, content and inclusion, public art commissions for roads and other transport investment and sponsoring of artists in residence linked to the geographical location of their investment, such as Performers in Residence in stations and other public spaces.
• Establish incentives to help sectors recover and compete, including incentives to attract film production to Scotland, participation by individuals, incentivise more support from private sector and individuals.


• Establish an Independent Advisory Group for Government – reflecting the cultural heritage, needs and interests of all of Scotland’s communities, in particular those from BME communities and those most affected by the poverty and worsening health impacts arising from COVID-19; this could be an extension of the National Partnership for Culture

• Develop a strategic plan with short, medium and long term goals, firmly linked to a revised National Performance Framework which takes additional account of the issues identified and actions demanded by campaigns such as Black Lives Matter, the Poverty Alliance et al

• Commit to a truly collaborative values based approach, across public, private and third sectors articulating with other relevant Advisory and Working Groups such as the National Events Industry Advisory Group.

Measuring and evaluating progress and impact:

• Ensure clear alignment with the revised National Performance Framework

• Establish a national performance outcome associated with culture, under the budget headings of Health, Education and the Economy. The establishment and monitoring of this would be part of the focus for the Measuring Change Group established by the National Partnership for Culture as laid out in the Culture Strategy for Scotland.

Covid 19 is a transient episode in our lives with catastrophic human and economic impacts.

Scotland must emerge with purpose, humanity and resilience to overcome the effects of this episode and with strength in depth to face future, as yet unknown, risks and shocks.

What we do now will resonate for a long time. We must look after our cultural heritage and create an enabled, inclusive society to build the heritage of the future.

The report of the Sub Group is available to download here: Download pdf.



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