Why we should get behind the Scottish Government’s Public Services Reform Bill to establish Creative Scotland

Creative Scotland is to be established as a Non Departmental Public Body (NDPB) through the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Bill  published yesterday and introduced by John Swinney MSP on 28 May 2009. This is another positive step forward to achieving Creative Scotland and the considerations and detail encompassed in the documents are of a robustness and quality much improved on the documents considered last year by the Scottish Parliament.    The documents provide clarity on many issues and address many of the concerns raised before by other public agencies, MSPs and members of the arts, cultural and creative communities regarding the role and responsibilities of Creative Scotland.   They also address other concerns regarding a perceived imbalance between the economic benefits of the arts , culture and creativity as opposed to the intrinsic benefits.  Further they address issues of definition as to culture, arts etc which vex some of us. 

But the relative clarity in the documents won’t be enough for those who want absolutes and who want everything to be black, white and/or in boxes and/or defined to the nth degree.  In the 21st century we live with ambiguity and our thriving arts and creative enterprises are operating in a world where content and technology converge.   Our citizens,  arts and creative industries are best served through collaboration between public agencies, including local authorities, enterprise agencies and the British Council and Visit Scotland, as well as collaboration with a wide range of voluntary, private and public sector bodies.  Creative Scotland will need to work with others and will benefit from the expertise of others.  It will have a lead role in advocacy, intelligence and coordination of support for the arts and creative industries. Its functions as published in the Bill are .

(a) identifying, supporting and developing quality and excellence in the arts andculture from those engaged in artistic and other creative endeavours,

(b) promoting understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the arts and culture,
 (c) encouraging as many people as possible to access and participate in the arts and culture,
 (d) realising, as far as reasonably practicable to do so, the value and benefits (inparticular, the national and international value and benefits) of the arts and culture
(e) encouraging and supporting artistic and other creative endeavours which contribute to an understanding of Scotland’s national culture,
 (f) promoting and supporting industries and other commercial activity the primary focus of which is the application of creative skills.

Lets hope that the contents of the documents dissolve the territorialism and absolutism which was manifest last year and that debate this year is balanced by positive contributions from the arts and creative sectors which want Creative Scotland as soon as possible.


The Bill is the mechanism to achieve a more streamlined and efficient (and less costly) public service for Scotland and it sets out the rationale and policy for all of this. The Bill is accompanied by a Policy Memorandum and Explanatory Notes.

This suite of documents sets out the rationale for Creative Scotland, the roles and functions, its relationship with other agencies and arrangements for governance etc.

The Policy Memorandum sets out the policy objectives behind establishing a new national body for arts and culture, embracing the creative industries: Creative Scotland.
Overview of policy aims
129. The Scottish Government wants Scotland to be a truly creative nation, both now and in the future, with a strong national identity which our vibrant arts and culture help to reflect, shape and define.
130. The Government wishes to encourage and support artists, creative practitioners and enterprises, as well as attract increasing numbers of creative people to Scotland; and to build Scotland’s cultural profile as part of a broader international reputation.
131. The Government wishes to ensure that the work of Scotland’s artists and creative practitioners is accessible to as many people as possible, and equally that the opportunity to participate in artistic and creative endeavours of all kinds is open to all
In summary, Government policy is to support the arts, culture and creativity; and to maximise access to, appreciation of and participation in, the arts, culture and creativity.

The full documents associated with the PSRB are available here

All the Creative Scotland documentation is extracted here

Something that not many of us realised last year is that anyone can comment on the documentation to Parliament as it goes through the Parliamentary Process so in the interests of achieving our creative Scotland and of democracy some of us may want to do that when the timetable is published  Last year  there were few submissions and those were largely by absolutists and academics and professional bystanders.  This time those of us who want a Creative Scotland and who need the agency to support our creative success should speak up.


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