On June 5, 2013, Scotland’s Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop delivered a speech at Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh University, titled Past, Present & Future: Culture & Heritage in an Independent Scotland.
The speech set out to distinct Scotland’s approach to the arts after UK Culture Secretary Maria Miller controversially said the arts realm must make the case for public funding by focusing on its economic, not artistic, value.
Declaring Scotland’s government as the ‘most culturally ambitious government that Scotland has ever had’ Hyslop argued that the value of the arts far surpasses the economical and that the wealth of culture and heritage should be weighed by intrinsic value.
Her speech politically stood in opposition to Miller’s who – in her delivery of Testing times: Fighting culture’s corner in an age of austerity – called out to the creative sector to place more emphasis on economic impact and growth.
Repelling Miller’s notion that British culture is a ‘compelling product’ – which should justify public spending by returned investment – Hyslop stated that the arts in Scotland would not be perceived as a commodity or be reduced to a single function.
Here Hyslop tells mailout why she so passionately stands by her views and how she visions Scotland as a nation to be not only artistically recognised in its own right – but as a nation that nourishes and nurtures engagement in the arts.
“Earlier this year in the Talbot Rice lecture, I took the opportunity to set out the key principles that underpin this Government’s approach to the arts, to culture and to heritage. As Culture Secretary I have sought to protect the arts in Scotland from the worst of the budget cuts with capital spending increased from £8.7 million to £23 million (for 2013 -2014) and we have promoted and supported the arts wherever we can, the length and breadth of Scotland and across the world.
“My job, along with other public authorities, is to create and nurture the conditions for success and to ensure that our tangible and intangible culture can thrive for the benefit of all. This Government recognises the overwhelming public good of our arts and culture, firstly, because of the intrinsic and profound impact it has upon us all - as individuals, families, communities and a nation as well as because of the wider social and economic benefits that positively influence our lives’.
“As Culture Secretary, I see the passion and pride generated across Scotland by artists and other creative practitioners; culture, and the arts, have a unique role in binding us, uplifting us and telling the story about where we’ve come from, who we are whilst helping us to reflect on who we could be”
“I said earlier this year that we do not measure the worth of culture and heritage solely in pounds and pence – we value culture and heritage precisely because they are so much more, because they are our heart, our soul, our essence. This is why I have said that I don’t expect the cultural sector to have to make a new case for culture in an economic context. I know and I believe what this sector can deliver because I see it in action.
“Culture is of us all and for us all and should be celebrated, nurtured and treasured. I want the creative community in Scotland to continue to thrive and to be supported as they continue to inspire and enrich lives both here in Scotland and across the world.”
Read Hyslop’s speech in full by clicking here.