The Scotland Devolution Commission represents an important opportunity for the value of culture in a flourishing Scotland to be recognised by Holyrood and Westminster government, for the arts and and culture to be further embedded in the civic life of Scotland and for artists to be involved in civic leadership and governance.
My job is to create a process through which politicians, civic institutions and the Scottish public can come together, work together and agree the detail of what those powers should be.
“To that end, I am working to one aim: to produce a unifying set of proposals by the 30 November 2014.
Lord Smith of Kelvin
The members of the Commission are two from each political party. For those not in the tent, the way to have your say is to submit views by 31 October.
This is my submission:
The Scotland Devolution Commission represents an important opportunity for the arts and culture to be further embedded in the civic life of Scotland and for artists to be involved in civic leadership and governance.
Further, for both the UK and Scottish governments to recognise the value of culture to a flourishing Scotland.
In the years since devolution Scotland’s arts and culture have flourished and thrived. They have been recognised as being of high value to Scotland across many economic and social/civic spheres, bringing benefits to individuals, communities and the nation. These benefits include contributing to our sense of identity, to how we understand the world and to our international reputation and contributing to learning, health, wellbeing, confidence and quality of life for individuals and for our communities.
Artists have become recognised as having an important contribution to make to civil society and their voices and views have been increasingly sought in the period leading up to the referendum on independence.
In order for culture to play its full part in a flourishing Scotland, the Commission should consider four elements:
1. The enshrining of the value of culture to Scotland in any legislation and statement of principles which define in statute the Scotland settlement;
2. The use of fiscal instruments to support artists, the arts and culture;
3. The devolution of broadcasting to Holyrood;
4. The creation of a system for broader and more open leadership in Scotland than the current political system, including the involvement of artists.
1. Enshrining of the value of culture
A high level statement of principles stating Scotland’s values should be included in the legal documents enshrining the outcomes of The Scotland Devolution Commission. In tone this should be equivalent to a constitution.
These principles should enshrine the value of culture to a flourishing Scotland, stating simply that culture is core to Scotland’s people, our future, and that taking part in cultural life is a human right.
Cultural value should inform all policy areas to recognise the value of culture to a flourishing Scotland.
2. Use of fiscal instruments to support artists, the arts and culture
The Scottish Parliament should have powers to raise income tax, national insurance, corporation tax, inheritance tax, petroleum revenue and other taxes and fiscal instruments. With this, artists and culture should be supported in ways additional to the current system of subsidy.
In particular, there should be available a tax-free research and development allowance available for artists and entrepreneurs in culture and the creative industries. This could be based on schemes in other countries and also the Enterprise Allowance Scheme of the 1980s, which supported many artists and creative entrepreneurs including young people. (This differs from the current UK New Enterprise Allowance Scheme in several key aspects including age restrictions, business eligibility and duration).
There is additional potential to consider the use of other tax breaks including for investors in film and creative business in Scotland. Tax incentives used in other countries as a means to attract artists to reside in a nation, for example in Ireland, are not be as relevant to Scotland at this time.
3. Devolution of broadcasting
Scotland has its own culture, political system, institutions and history and there should be a greater devolution of broadcasting than is currently the case. The precise nature of this will need fuller consideration.
4. A system for broader and more open leadership involving artists
One of the major themes of the last few years and the referendum period itself has been the positive involvement of civil movements and the desire for a more inclusive democratic system in Scotland. I urge the Commission to be mindful of this and to consider the creation of a system for leadership in Scotland which is inclusive of civil movements including those involving artists. These movements, such as National Collective are not the type of constituted institutions which lend themselves to absorption into governance models where power is organised and controlled by political parties and civil servants and where systems of representation are dependent on the existence of constituted institutions.
These measures are presented as suggestions at a fairly high-level. Some need further consideration and appraisal. They have the potential to help Scotland flourish.
Lets hope that our views are heard, that we can become more involved in the future of Scotland and that the old political system doesn’t close the door on artists.