Scots see ‘culture’ as not just about theatre and opera, reveals new research

Scottish people include attending rugby matches as a cultural activity.
Scottish people include attending rugby matches as a cultural activity.
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Scots take a very broad view of what constitutes “culture”, saying it encompasses music, food, crafting and sports as well as theatre and drama, according to public opinion research from the National Trust for Scotland.

The trust, publishing its results ahead of the Scottish Government’s first Culture Strategy for 20 years, says that policy makers need “to recognise this breadth of cultural activity”.

However, research also highlighted barriers people said they faced when wanting to join cultural activities.

Only 25 per cent of respondents said there were no barriers to enjoying such activities.

Barriers were more commonly cited by younger people (29 per cent higher incidence than average); those on lower incomes (17 per cent higher than average); ethnic minorities (23 per cent higher); and lesbian gay, bisexual or transgender and disabled people (40 per cent higher).

The greatest hurdles were identified as cost, followed by lack of time, confidence, transport and information.

Respondents with lower incomes (under £19,999) were less likely to rate the provision of cultural activity in their area as good (41 per cent), compared to middle (49 per cent) and high-income groups (60 per cent).

Diarmid Hearns, the trust’s head of public policy, said the coming Culture Strategy was a way for Scotland as a whole – whether in the public, private or third sectors – to increase opportunities to enjoy Scotland’s culture.

“In its new strategy, the Scottish Government has a real opportunity to show leadership on this, tackling the barriers we have identified and enabling participation from all in the community, across the country,” he said.

“Our research found Scots see many additional benefits from their cultural activities, including learning, making friends, or creating a better place to live.

“But they also experienced barriers – and these were worse for those on lower incomes, and for those from ethnic minority groups.

“We also need to work together to tackle the inequalities in access to culture our research has identified.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “The culture strategy will present an extended view of culture, which includes the everyday and emerging, the established and more formal, celebrating culture as part of every community.

“During our consultation on our draft strategy, we received feedback from a wide range of audiences – including those working in cultural, arts, heritage and creative sectors and the general public ­– through a series of ‘culture conversations’. We sought to understand, in relation to culture, what is important to people, what is working well, what changes are needed, and what kind of future they would like to see. The culture strategy, to be published soon, aims to extend opportunities for people to take part in culture.”