Profiel: Scotland/Schotland

1. General Context

Scotland (Scots: Scotland; Scottish Gaelic: Alba) is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It contains nearly one-third of the United Kingdom’s land area. The population of Scotland at the 2022 Census was 5,436,600 and makes up about 8% of the population of the United Kingdom. The devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament and Executive (the Scottish Government) particularly through the Scotland Act 1998, has given Scotland significant autonomy in shaping its cultural policies. The Scottish Parliament has control over areas such as arts and culture, education, and heritage, allowing for the development of policies that are reflective of Scotland’s unique identity. Broadcasting is not included in the devolution.

The Scottish Government has a specific focus on promoting and preserving the Gaelic language and culture. Initiatives include Gaelic language education, support for Gaelic media, and efforts to integrate Gaelic into various aspects of public life. There are 4 official languages in Scotland: English, Scots, Scottish Gaelic and BSL.

Scotland House Brussels (SHB) is a key part of Scotland’s international network. It is the centre of Scotland’s engagement with the EU and a conveyer of relationships between Scottish, European and international partners. The Delegation of Flanders in the United Kingdom and Ireland is covering Scotland for the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Flanders. Flanders is a priority area for Scotland: in 2023 an MOU was signed between Flanders and Scotland covering cultural matters.

2. Cultural Policy and Funding

Cultural policy in Scotland is shaped by a combination of national and devolved government initiatives. The Scottish Government plays a key role in supporting and promoting culture through various policies and funding mechanisms such as Creative Scotland. 

At the national level Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland. It was established in 2010 as a result of merging the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen. Creative Scotland provides funding and resources to artists and organisations working in various creative fields, including visual arts, literature, performing arts, and film. Creative Scotland distributes funding it gets from the Scottish Government and The National Lottery.

In 2021 Creative Scotland established a refreshed Strategic Framework. This Framework was setting out broader aims as well as priorities for supporting recovery and renewal of the arts, screen and creative industries across Scotland, the priorities being:

  • Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion: supporting a diverse range of creative people, communities, and activity, promoting an equality of opportunity to create, participate and engage. 
  • Sustainable Development: helping tackle the climate emergency and supporting the growth of sustainable creative businesses across Scotland. See Creative Carbon Scotland.
  • Fair Work: promoting fair pay, conditions, and employment opportunities across the creative sector.
  • International: developing innovative and sustainable ways of strengthening international collaboration and promoting artistic and cultural exchange.

How this is put into action is outlined in the Annual Plan 2023-24. Grant-in-Aid budget remained after a reversed reduction at the same level of 2022/23, but in real terms this is a reduction of over 20% in the current climate. Additional funding of the National Lottery is taken up by the sector and is of vital support to the sector across Scotland. A new approach to supporting organisations through Multi-Year Funding was developed in 2023.

Kunstenpunt-Flanders Arts Institute connected with the following staff in Scotland in relation to our BAR project: (Emails:

  • Dana MacLeod – Executive Director of Arts, Communities and Inclusion
  • Kim Simpson – Head of Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Amanda Catto – Head of Visual Arts 
  • ​​Kirsteen Macdonald – Visual Arts Officer
  • Alan Morrison – Head of Music
  • Clare Hewitt – Music Officer
  • Laura Mackenzie-Stuart – Head of Theatre and International
  • Kate Deans – International Officer

Europe remains a key priority for Scotland. Pre-Brexit funding for touring and international collaboration was often accessed via international collaboration in the Creative Europe framework in addition to existing Creative Scotland funds for international exchange. There is a strong collaboration with the other arts councils in the UK through its collaboration in the Arts Infopoint UK  and the Four nations Fund. The Cultural Bridge partnership programme is an example of the promotion of cross-border collaboration between Germany and the UK focusing on participatory arts based methodologies. 

3. Information 

  • British Council Scotland builds connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. It  has a dedicated arts programme. Their Head of Arts is Norah Campell.
  • The British Council has a 3 year strategic partnership with Creative Scotland and develops  partnerships with key stakeholders in Scotland. Momentum is a key international delegate programme along the Edinburgh Festival a partnership between British Council, Festivals Edinburgh, Creative Scotland and with support from the City of Edinburgh Council and EventScotland. British Council Scotland works with the Celtic Connections festival to raise its international profile, ambition and reach and organised together with Creative Scotland a Showcase Scotland international delegate programme to the Scottish music sector. 
  • On the Move, the cultural mobility information network, provides information and knowledge for artists and cultural professionals active across borders. On the UK country page you can find information that relates to Scotland and the last edition of Mobility Funding Guide to the United Kingdom | On the Move ( contains information specifically regarding Wales.
    • Part of the On the Move Mobility Information points, Arts Infopoint UK is a pilot initiative to support the arts sector with information on practical issues relating to cultural mobility (visa, work permits, and more). Focus is on incoming mobility, meaning to the UK but information is also provided for UK arts professionals going to Europe post-Brexit. 

4. Landscape and players

Due to the impact of Covid19, inequalities, BlackLiveMatters, climate change, cost of living crisis and Brexit as well as a different approach to funding, the landscape of the arts sector changed in Scotland.

Prior to Brexit there were a lot of exchanges between arts professionals in Scotland and the EU supported by the Creative Europe programme and Creative Scotland. In some Creative Europe programmes companies from Scotland such Imaginate were collaborating with Flemish companies e.g. in the PUSH programme, a 2-year Creative Europe cooperation 2016-2018. 

The British Council and Creative Scotland released in 2022 an interesting research report on the perceptions about Scotland’s arts and cultural assets. It gives good insight into different aspects of the creative sector from an inside and outside perspective.

Here are some reflections stated in the report:

  • Scotland’s focus on disability arts (a much-cited area of excellence) has a history that extends into the 1970s and, to that extent, has been relatively pioneering in international terms. Scotland – Disability Arts International gives a snapshot.
  • Performance by and for young people was frequently referred to as a particular Scottish strength. More recent innovations in exploring performance for under-5 and festivals like Edinburgh International Children’s Festival. 
  • The broader context of the Scottish Government’s National Outcomes references fairness as one of the key measures with a specific commitment to respect, protect and fulfil human rights and live free from discrimination. 
  • Another aspect of Scottish culture is the equal value placed on ‘elite arts’ and ‘egalitarianism’. That ability to hold the orchestra and other national companies and something like a theatre show being brought to rural areas in the back of a van at the same level. Ensuring accessibility to all, providing an equal platform for artists of diverse talents and talent-levels, with a strong focus on arts education.
  • There is an awakening to acknowledge the impact and contribution of migrant cultures. It is both an understanding and an ownership of the history of colonialism and seeking diversity in programming but also at the policy level. 
  • The sector’s commitment to access and inclusion strongly impresses international commentators – this is also characterised as ‘care and attention to all stakeholders’, a ‘commitment to access and disability inclusion’ and ‘support for mental health’ – as well as community engagement and local development.
  • There is a strong focus on and awareness of sustainability/climate change within the sector.
  • While often introduced to Scotland through high-profile festivals, it is often the small-scale, more experimental practice that international peers are then curious about.

As part of the BAR project, a mapping of contacts in Scotland was done by Kunstenpunt-Flanders Arts Institute. Online meetings were held with Creative Scotland to better understand the arts sector in Scotland. End of May 2023 a Kunstenpunt-Flanders Arts Institute delegation visited Scotland to meet with key players in the sector, with a special focus on understanding themes of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and Sustainability. Here below are reports from those meetings, organised according to disciplines. 

Visual Arts

Performing Arts and cross cutting themes (EDI)

More information

If you have any questions or seek more information please don’t hesitate to reach out to our colleague Lissa Kinnaer.

(Re)Connect with the UK:

In 2023 deed Kunstenpunt onderzoek naar de (negatieve) impact van Brexit op de culturele sector in Vlaanderen. We brachten de problematiek in kaart, en wisselden ook kennis rond diversiteit en inclusie uit. We proberen op die manier de culturele relatie met het Verenigd Koninkrijk te versterken en uit te breiden.