WHAT is culture? And can it be strategised? These questions seemed to hover over the proceedings of a "conversation" about the Scottish Government's new culture strategy this week.

I was in Paisley for the first of these conversations. Others will follow around Scotland. The Government wants to have a culture strategy. It was in their manifesto, and it is in their programme for government. Fiona Hyslop, the culture secretary, was there, too, and made a speech and took part in the round table discussions.

Before the discussions, there was a speech. Perhaps to allay fears – or suspicions – that the Government wants to produce a document which defines what culture is, and is not, what is "official" or not, she seemed to underline the point that "it is not a state view on culture. Its intention is to support and work for culture." OK.

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Ms Hyslop articulated the reasons for this strategy, which, as The Herald reported last week, doesn't seem to have a strict timetable for delivery. In explaining why a strategy is needed, she said culture could be the subject of a strategy in the same way the economy could, or education.

She said: "Culture is important and it is perhaps more important now than ever. Along with other key areas of strategic focus such as education, the economy and the environment, culture too warrants a strategic approach that supports its future development. We want to position culture (in its broadest sense) as strategically important and central to Scotland’s future….to articulate a vision that demonstrates the intrinsic power and potential of culture and creativity."

The strategy as she explained it would go beyond funding models and who-gets-what. She said it will state the current place of culture in Scotland, "what is working well and the challenges faced." She said he wished it to "draw on changes and shifts in local, national and international contexts." Widening the focus further, she said the strategy would be "conscious" of huge issues such as "technology and the pace of change that our children and grandchildren will experience, demographic shifts including a rapidly ageing population, growing social, health and educational inequality, migration, climate change and sustainability are all relevant to the strategy." There is also the spectre of Brexit. Ms Hyslop said the strategy would have to "bear witness" to its impact.

These are all salient points, and more detail about the strategy than has been heard previously. But still, with this exercise, it is hard not to feel a sense of trying to catch mist, or moulding sand. Perhaps culture is word of such voluminous content, it should have been avoided in the first place. The Government clearly want this strategy to extend culture beyond the arts. It will look at the world beyond those artists, writers and companies funded by Creative Scotland. But how broad a definition is it? A broad Scottish culture, for instance, could feasibly include sport (not just football), whisky, religions, languages, landscape and of course television. Nevermind fashion and film and the Festivals. There are negative things in a society's culture too, will these be tackled? Will it look at alcoholism, anomie and violence? Or did the Government really mean creativity, not culture, when it began this exercise.

I am told that at the invited event in Glasgow for this project, a wider definition of culture was mooted, with some looking for a "broader, more aspirational" definition. There was talk of dividing the publicly funded world from a wider "people's culture". There was some bridling over what the strategy's toting of excellence really means.

If the strategy is really limited to what the Government, and its various agencies, can tangibly change, then the strategy, if it is to mean anything in the real world, will come down to money. To what is funded, resourced and invested in. And, with limited resources, who and what gets which funds. This could mean, at the end of the process, a new series of priorities for Creative Scotland. It could also mean – if the culture secretary follows through on her speech's concerns about the precarious nature of the artist's life – new kinds of support for the freelancers in Scotland's creative sector.

But the whole process, albeit early, with the clay still wet, really needs more definition.