RSE Response to the Funding for Culture consultation

The RSE has responded to the Scottish Parliament Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee inquiry on Funding for Culture.

The response highlights that the ongoing health crisis has had an uneven, detrimental impact across the board in the culture sector. Emergency funding provided by the Scottish Government has helped cultural organisations survive during the last two years, however, cultural organisations continue to operate with limited reserves and ongoing funding support from the Government is needed to ensure resilience in the sector. The level of funding that the Scottish Government will allocate to culture in the Budget for 2022-23 should reflect the importance of culture and heritage to society.

In allocating funding, the Scottish Government should consider the needs of various actors such as public and private culture organisations as well those of the individuals working in the sector. We recommend that the Scottish Government considers new frameworks for funding that provide continuous investment in culture and heritage.

There is now an opportunity for the Scottish Government to mainstream culture across different policy areas, as indicated in the culture strategy. Experience from the last two years has highlighted the contribution of culture to key sectors, including but not limited to health, education and the economy.

Paper summary

The ongoing health crisis has had an uneven, detrimental impact across the board in the culture sector. Emergency funding provided by the Scottish Government has helped cultural organisations survive during the last two years. Cultural organisations continue to operate with limited reserves and ongoing funding support from the Government is needed to ensure resilience in the sector. The level of funding that the Scottish Government will allocate to culture in the Budget for 2022-23 should reflect the importance of culture and heritage to society.

In allocating funding, the Scottish Government should consider the needs of various actors such as public and private culture organisations as well those of the individuals working in the sector. We recommend that the Scottish Government considers new frameworks for funding that provide continuous investment in culture and heritage. Some ideas on immediate and long-term interventions to be considered are presented below such as subsidizing performance tickets, creating a dedicated incentive fund, applying tax rebates or creating a visitor levy.

It is inevitable that some restructuring will be needed in the sector and some public and private culture services available before the pandemic will not be resumed. In this light, it is important that the Scottish Government funding is geared towards helping culture and heritage organisations to introduce necessary changes and to adapt business models as needed. Further loss of skills and knowledge needs to be prevented.

The pandemic has also led to enhanced collaboration as organisations came together to address shared challenges. The Scottish Government should continue to foster collaboration through existing consortia and create new opportunities. The scope and limits of existing funding sources should be revised to ensure multi-disciplinary collaborations are encouraged and dedicated funds could be made available to promote shared use of resources.

There is now an opportunity for the Scottish Government to mainstream culture across different policy areas, as indicated in the culture strategy. Experience from the last two years has highlighted the contribution of culture to key sectors, including but not limited to health, education and the economy. The Scottish Government should encourage and support cross-sector collaboration, especially with health and social care, by developing activities such as social prescribing.

A hybrid model of cultural production is likely to become dominant in the future. The Scottish Government’s funding should enable cultural organisations to adapt existing practices to this new model. Funding should be allocated for material and digital infrastructure, skills training, improving digital access, as well as the development of digital channels so that cultural organisations (both public and private) can provide high-quality hybrid experiences.