Drew Wylie response to Creative Scotland consultation

Creative Scotland Strategic Plan 2014 – 24, Consultation Document

Drew Wylie Ltd. response – 6 February 2014

The consultative document is a positive step in providing a clear strategic approach that looks to meet the support and developmental needs of the arts and cultural industries.

Creative industries elements of the plan are less well developed than the arts and cultural content, perhaps reflecting the modest role given to creative industries in the legislative remit that prefaces the document.  It is, however, important to state the economic case for making interventions into the creative industries, particularly given the recent positive evidence of sectoral growth and impact on young people’s employment.   It is it is not entirely clear how Creative Scotland will work into the creative industries sector, with whom, or to what end.  Creative Scotland articulates both a support and developmental role for arts and culture, and needs to be explicit at the outset of the document about the case for working as a development agency.

The national and international ambitions are disappointing.  No matter what the referendum result there is going to be a ‘nation building’ aspect to the coming years and seeking out international collaborators  and best practice will be important.   Also Scotland’s international festivals are a ‘crown jewels’ that will need attention to maintain their place in a competitive international arena.   There could also be a commitment to playing an active role in European cultural and creative policy, research and initiatives.  There is also the question of how will Creative Scotland know how well it is performing? International dialogue and benchmarking at the levels of policy, strategy and performance will bring rewards in stimulating innovation, dialogue and recognition from beyond the sectors.

The influencing ambition should reach beyond an evidence based approach.  Creative Scotland is the key organisation connecting much of the sector to Government, and also has communications capacity to work into the print and broadcast media on behalf of smaller organisations that don’t.  There is also a need to negotiate and coordinate industry and sector responses that extend further than Creative Scotland beneficiaries, including the National Companies and commercial publishing and television production.   Creative Scotland should also look to influence and energise the sector by providing briefings, guidance and information to help individuals and organisations take opportunities arising from industry and market trends, legislation, and strategic initiatives.

The statement of priorities and ‘connector themes’ are welcome.   There may be an assumption that in referencing Local Authorities the potential of Scotland’s major cities to work as partners, or the unique importance of culture in rural and remote areas are addressed.  A more explicit account of different settings, and of the importance of cross-sectoral working would, however, strengthen the place-making ambition.  The referencing of ‘participants, audiences and consumers’  in the priorities places the emphasis on existing rather than new or untapped markets.

The intention to focus attention on digital opportunities is also welcome as is the expectation that all beneficiaries will  ‘build digital thinking into their work’.  This position would be strengthened by: a statement of ambition as to desirable outcomes for the public and for practitioners; strategic alignment with other sectors; and a statement of what further work Creative Scotland will do to take this agenda forward.

Lastly, could the environment theme be more ambitious given the particular significance of the natural world and relationships to the land to Scottish culture?   This is reflected in pioneering work taking place around arts, creativity and environment as well as emerging interdisciplinary practice.  Is this an area that Scotland can be a world leader?