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Championing the Economic Impact of Culture

Kirstin McEwan

On the 19th December 2023, the Scottish Government published its action plan, detailing the delivery methodology of its Culture Strategy for Scotland, originally published in 2020.

This Action Plan, developed in collaboration with the Culture Sector, sets out the next steps the Scottish Government will take to support the development of culture in Scotland.

Roundtable consultations sessions were initiated in 2022, one of which was held in Dumfries in January 2023 and attended by the Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture, Scottish Government Culture Officials, and colleagues from across the Culture Sector, including Dumfries-based arts and community organisation, The Stove Network. These sessions looked at how cultural and creative organisations, can work with both Government and public bodies to effect positive change, locally, regionally, and nationally.

With a focus on resilience and three key pillars: Strengthening Culture, transforming through Culture, and Empowering through Culture, the action plan outlines the Scottish Government’s route to delivering their ambitious Culture Strategy.

At the round table consultation in Dumfries, The Stove was able to share with the Cabinet Secretary innovative cross-sector working in Dumfries and Galloway that uses cultural projects to empower people to change things within their own communities. An example being the way Dumfries and Galloway are working with the cultural sector to connect people on the ground meaningfully to strategic economic investment.

The Stove’s work, through What We Do Now (WWDN), a unique and ground-breaking initiative that supports a creative placemaking network within Dumfries & Galloway, working with artists, communities, and organisations, is highlighted alongside other examples, within the action plan’s second chapter, “Strengthening Culture”.

Extract from the action plan:

Champion the economic impact of culture, in particular within the context of community wealth building and creative placemaking….

… The Scottish Government has embraced the internationally recognised Community Wealth Building approach to economic development as a key tool to transform our local and regional economies…

… harnessing local economic opportunities to address a range of challenges linked to addressing depopulation, regardless of whether affected communities are found in rural and island areas, or urban….

… There is a clear link with the principle of creative placemaking, which we know has tangible benefits for communities. For example, The Stove Network’s work across the south of Scotland, funded by the Scottish Government via the Culture Collective project ‘What We Do Now’, connects artists and community organisations to co-develop creative plans for the future of local places. We will learn from the outputs of this work and consider ways of scaling up the approaches taken.

“To see creative placemaking championed within the Scottish Government’s action plan for delivering the national culture strategy is fantastic. What We Do Now in Dumfries and Galloway is just one example of a very exciting strand of practice that is emerging across Scotland to place creativity at the heart of community-led change.”

Katharine Wheeler, Lead for WWDN

The full Culture Strategy for Scotland: Action Plan can be read here

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