Forty six years ago a seminal art show was held during the Edinburgh Festival. Strategy: Get Arts (the title is a palindrome) ran for the summer of 1970 at the Edinburgh College of Art, conceived by Richard Demarco and the Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, and featured, among other things, German artists staging a feast, a room full of mist created by Gotthard Graubner, and Joseph Beuys' notable work: 24 sledges falling out of the back of a VW van.
The show sprung to mind because of something swirling in the Scottish Government which may well have a profound impact on cultural policy in the next five years of the new Parliament. No, not a room full of mist. But the arts in Scotland are about to get a new strategy.
Promised in its Holyrood 2016 manifesto, the SNP said it would "develop Scotland's first ever cultural strategy based on the principles of access, equity and excellence."
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The first ever cultural strategy? Not quite. Back in 2000, under the Scottish Executive, a cultural strategy was launched. At the time the strategy was greeted by the Scottish Arts Council (see, it was a long time ago) as "recognition of the vital role that culture plays in the life of the nation, the way it shapes the image of Scotland in the wider world, and its huge potential for invigorating our society." The strategy "celebrated excellence in the arts", it promoted access and, over five pages, the social benefits of culture.
But anyway, wholly original idea or not, a new Cultural Strategy is coming. Now, someone once told me that strategies are penned when they are no cheques to be written, and, it appears, there will not be a great deal of extra cash in the foreseeable future. As we know, the national performing arts companies and Creative Scotland (the successor to the SAC and Scottish Screen) took a 3% hit to funds last year. The Edinburgh Festivals are preparing to face the "fiscal cliff."
What will the strategy contain? I am told by insiders it is "early days" but the government will "foster a collaborative and co-ordinated approach to an overarching culture strategy with the principles of access, equity and excellence at its heart."
It will "continue to develop and nurture a confident, successful and inclusive cultural sector and for our people and communities to experience the wide-ranging and meaningful benefits of a rich and dynamic cultural life."
Will the cultural world be consulted at all? Creative Scotland has already done a lot of strategising itself in recent years, and has reviewed the screen, literature, visual arts, dance, music and theatre sectors. It has a 10 year strategy and will publish its own long-awaited Arts Strategy in July, as well as having Screen and Creative Industry strategies.
How will these be taken into account by the new national strategy? And how will local authorities, still key cultural funders, be drawn into the mix? Could the new strategy question, once again, the existence of Creative Scotland itself? It is all a little intriguing.