What does cultural diplomacy look like in a small nation with a big identity? This was the question of the day at the Danish Cultural Institute as the RSA contemplated a future Scottish Centre for Cultural Relations. The British Council’s recent reflections on soft power can, after all, seem irrelevant in a country with the population of a medium sized city and modest presence on the European stage.
But cultural diplomacy does matter. We heard about how a change of tone in Portugal was supporting links with Brazil and Angola, where a shared language is providing competitive edge. But the Portuguese ‘trade boat’ contribution to the Venice Biannale mirrors our own failure to understand that UK cultural influence arises from the quality of our artists and the success of a mixed cultural economy. Independent or not, Scotland should work harder at being an international and internationally connected culture.
Image: Thorbjorn Lausten at Edinburgh’s Lux Europae festival, celebrating hosting the 1992 European Summit