The report detailing the findings and recommendations of the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee was published online, following its inquiry on culture in communities. A number of Culture Collective projects, as well as the Programme Lead team, gave evidence over the course of the inquiry on the challenges and opportunities in delivering a ‘place-based’ approach to cultural policy.
The culture strategy outlines that “place-based approaches enable local communities to influence, shape, and where there is an appetite, deliver long term solutions because it is easier for people and communities to identify with, relate to and feel connected with their place”.
In the published report, Culture Collective was highlighted as an example of how cultural organisations, artists and communities have been supported to develop local cultural projects. Professor David Stevenson said the programme had been “so powerful” as a result of “recognising the need for strong networks locally”.
Creative Scotland told the Committee that the programme offers “a strong example of how to address unmet need, through place-based and people-centred processes” with each project “designed and driven by the community in which it is rooted”. It “did not want to see predetermined outcomes, because the outcomes should be determined through working with the communities”.
Stellar Quines thought that it had enabled them to show “how it could be and what might be possible” if the necessary funding was available. The Culture Collective commented that while community work has thus far existed with “dregs of funding”, this programme being “funded at scale” had enabled the projects to “shift the question” from “How can we do this cheaply because that’s all we’ve got?” to “How can we be most effective and most brilliant?”
The funding for the Culture Collective is coming to an end, with projects concluding in October 2023. It is not clear whether the initiative will be replaced.
In evidence to the Committee, a representative of the Culture Collective project lead team said: “we are trying to build a sustainable network that can exist beyond our contract and the known lifetime of the Culture Collective, while at the same time knowing that it will never be enough and that this should not be a short-term initiative… Trying to wind down in a healthy and sustainable way is not what we want to be doing, but it is the best that we can do with the resources that we know we have.” On the Culture Collective’s legacy, they added that “we are focusing on building a network that exists sustainably without our support”.
The National Partnership for Culture noted that “important national initiatives such as the Culture Collective and Creative Communities have already grown from the Culture Strategy but embedding these ways of working will require long term commitments and further changes to how culture is supported.” It considered that these such initiatives can be used “as foundations” to be built upon.
The Committee consistently heard throughout its inquiry that the Culture Collective programme had been a powerful example of a national place-based initiative which had supported cultural organisations to work in partnership with artists and communities to develop local cultural projects.
Given that the funding for the programme and its projects will soon conclude, the Committee calls on the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland to set out how the foundation and legacy of Culture Collective will be built upon through future place-based initiatives.