Our series of Thematic Overviews draw out a selection of work from across the community-led participatory arts projects that make up the Culture Collective network. They’re intended to give an insight into some of the themes that have been identified as important by communities, and offer a starting point into the ways that creative activity can be used to address wider topics.
A key intention of Culture Collective funding was to support those building their careers in the creative sector, with a minimum of 50% of Culture Collective funding restricted to be spent directly on artist fees. Furthermore, the Culture Collective network is prioritising support for training, networking, access and development opportunities for creative freelancers at all stages of their careers, building our ethos of creating a programme that exemplifies “how we want things to be”. In their interim findings for the Culture Collective evaluation, Queen Margaret University found that the first 20 months of the Culture Collective programme has created 493 employment opportunities for creative practitioners. The evaluation found that “projects have able to create dedicated posts in response to local needs and conditions on the ground, due to flexibility of the programme funding”, and “training, mentoring and support activities for emerging or early career practitioners is strengthening the workforce in readiness for post-Covid recovery”.
The wider context
41% of creative workers in Scotland work freelance – around 21,000 people in total (source: Culture Counts). In 2021 the (then) Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop noted: “The impact of COVID-19 has been particularly devastating for creative freelancers and those involved in events”, adding to the precariousness, lack of training and isolation already experienced by many creative freelancers.
The Culture Strategy for Scotland sets out the Scottish Government’s aims to strengthen culture and sets an action to review the current status of Fair Work, leadership and workforce development across the Arts, Screen and Creative Industries. It identifies a key ambition to strengthen culture through support for the cultural workforce.
A review of Fair Work in the creative and cultural sector in Scotland, carried out by Culture Radar for Creative Scotland in 2021, summarised that “pressing priorities have almost universally been around low pay and precarious work which is acknowledged as a huge, difficult and long- term issue, and which has been a significant contributing factor to skills loss during COVID-19”. The report “surfaced a consistent trend in the desire for broad cultural change in how people work, practice and lead across the creative and cultural sectors in Scotland… [with a desire] to shift behaviours, mindsets and (longer term) the structures which many feel have held the sector back, particularly in terms of sustainability, equality, diversity and inclusion”.