Culture revival post Covid

Jun 24 2020 | By More

Culture slant to ScotGov business recovery plan

The Scottish Government’s advisory report on recovery from the Covid-19 crisis has a strong element for culture, which it recognises has been hit disproportionately hard by the crisis as a consequence of physical distancing requirements.

The report “Towards a robust, resilient wellbeing economy for Scotland”, was published on Monday 22 June 2020, and sets out 25 detailed recommendations for the broad Scottish economy.

In particular, it recognised the “significant contribution of the arts, culture and creative industries to Scotland’s economy and to our social capital”.

Joanna Baker, chair of the sub-group.

The advisory group, chaired by former head of Tesco Bank Benny Higgins, was itself advised by a sub group of high-ranking figures in the culture world.

These included former EIF boss Jonathan Mills; DG of the National Galleries John Leighton; and CEO of Glasgow Life Bridget McConnell, with former EIF managing director Joanna Baker in the chair.

The headline culture recommendations of the main report are that the Scottish Government should:

  • Take steps to protect the sector;
  • Seek to increase public and private investment; and
  • Work to create a National Arts Force.

The report continues: “The arts, culture and creative industries make an important and growing contribution to Scotland’s economic and social capital. They create high quality, fulfilling jobs, which can be amplified through specialist apprenticeships, skills development and training. And they play an important role in Scotland’s international offering as part of ‘brand Scotland’.”

The report starts off by recognising the problems for the buildings and “physical infrastructure” of the arts saying:

“The sector has been hit disproportionately hard by the crisis as a consequence of physical distancing requirements. Many parts of the sector are hampered by physical infrastructure – often of significant heritage value – which will be particularly difficult to adapt to new requirements. This will call existing business models into question.”

Freelance workforce

However, it also manages to take in the huge issue of those who work in the culture sector, who have been disproportionately effected with redundancies. This is, of course, particularly true in the theatre world, where redundancies of staff are coming up and freelancers have had no – or little – work since the lockdown started.

It says: “A significant proportion of the workforce are either freelance or gig economy workers, who will struggle to find or maintain jobs in the postcrisis period. Yet the sector can play a big part in our recovery, attracting visitors and investment alike once the present restrictions are lifted, and helping to build both confidence and resilience for the future.

“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.”


The recommendations of the culture report read well, particularly so given Higgins insistence that they are an action list, not a shopping list.

It concludes: “Against that background, the sector should be given high priority in Scotland’s recovery plan.

“Scotland must emerge from the crisis with purpose, humanity and resilience. We must look after our cultural heritage and create an enabled, inclusive society to build the heritage of the future.

“There are a number of dimensions to a strategy for supporting the recovery and future flourishing of the sector. But as a priority, the Scottish Government should:

  • Support the sector to protect and adapt strategically important physical cultural infrastructure, with a strong link to apprenticeships in the construction and specialist industries to help develop new skills;
  • Seek ways to increase public and private investment across the sector to allow it to recover and compete; and
  • Work with the sector to create a National Arts Force, composed of freelance and gig economy workers across the sector, to work in schools, care homes and communities.

The main report is available to download from the ScotGov website. Details here.

The report of the Sub Group was also published. It is available to download here: Download pdf.


Tags: , , ,