In February 2022, an evaluation team from the Centre for Communication, Cultural and Media Studies at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh was commissioned by Creative Scotland to undertake an evaluation of the Culture Collective. The first part of this evaluation is now published; you can read the evaluation here or download a PDF below.

Part One of the evaluation aims to provide a snapshot of the Programme during its first phases of activity, looking at progress, outcomes and developments from across the 26 projects. The purpose is to build on what the Programme is achieving, collating perspectives on what is important about the Programme for communities, creative practitioners and with respect to cultural policy.

Here are some key highlights to note:

  • So far the projects in the Culture Collective programme have created 493 roles and employment opportunities, many of which are being rolled over into the next phases of the projects, along with additional posts planned by some projects
  • What is evident is that the projects are reaching deep into localities, engaging many communities including some of the most vulnerable groups and those especially impacted by the Pandemic
  • An important feature of the Culture Collective, and one which all of the projects have found to be empowering and enabling, was the absence of an extensive and explicit set of outcomes that every project was required to deliver. Instead, they were free to shape their projects in response to what mattered to artists and communities in the place they were working
  • Key elements that projects identify as enabling factors in the success of their work include: training and support for practitioners, collaboration, partner buy in, having access to the right spaces and facilities and a patient, committed and multi-year approach to funding and a supportive cultural policy context

The next phase of the evaluation research gathers further data to build on the insights that have been generated so far, including: final figures from the projects on employment and community engagement; stories of impact for participants, communities, creative practitioners, partnering organisations and other Programme stakeholders; illustrations of key enabling factors in action, showing what can be achieved when such conditions are in place; different ways of working across the Programme; and perspectives on what the Programme has created that can build sector practice for the future, enhance modes of funding support and stimulate further policy support.

Commenting on the findings Professor David Stevenson, Dean of Arts. Social Science and Management at QMU, and member of the research team, said:

“Our report shines a light on the immense potential of the Culture Collective programme to build on its current successes. The programme has not only provided communities with a platform to share their stories, but it has also sparked conversations about the significance of cultural policy in fostering social inclusion and creativity. It is clear that the unique, flexible, and long term support offered by the Programme has enabled artists to make work responsive to each place, with more meaningful community-centred engagement.”

The next stages of the research take the form of case studies and surveys. Keep an eye out for Part Two toward the end of the year.