IN the early years of the re-convened Scottish Parliament, culture ministers came and went like members of the Sugababes – although the chronology of that comparison may in fact be the wrong way round. Like successive lithe members of the vocal trio, some were more memorable than others, and some are certainly remembered for things they would probably rather we all forget. I particularly treasure the memory of being invited to the private office of one incumbent for a one-to-one briefing about Scottish Opera. What exclusive story was I about to be trusted to disseminate concerning the future of our most expensive national company, I wondered? Alas, it transpired the briefing was being requested because the elected member confessed to knowing nothing at all about Scottish Opera, and hoped that I could help him get up to speed before he joined the company on a trip to Europe.

The very first one – and she clocked up a year and half in post, which was better than many – was Rhona Brankin, and one of her first actions was to commission Scotland's first National Cultural Strategy. This seems to have escaped the attention of the Holyrood archivists, because this year's initiative by our longest serving Culture Minister, Fiona Hyslop, to create a National Cultural Strategy was initially proclaimed as a New Thing. But, to paraphrase the late John Noakes, here's one they made earlier. A rummage in the Herald Arts Desk archive swiftly produced the lavish publication with which we were issued on August 16, 2000 – a glossy A3-sized 68-page book that was launched with some fanfare at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh (where there was until recently a popular gallery in Inverleith House) in the middle of the Edinburgh Festival. First Minister Donald Dewar joined Brankin for the occasion and said: "Excellence is not an elitist concept; it is not only for the privileged minority. It can be made accessible to all. Our approach will therefore seek to place culture at the heart of policy development. Our strategy is based on principles of inclusion, of promoting culture in and through education and of widening access and communities."

You will have your own opinion on how many/few parsnips have been basted by those fine words, but plus ca change, eh? This week's invitation list at Glasgow Women's Library to begin work on NatCultStrat2017 included all the national companies, major festivals, galleries and other institutions, and well known artists from all disciplines including Sir James MacMillan, Jacqueline Donachie, Karine Polwart, and David Greig. It was an invitation it was probably quite difficult to decline, but have Sturgeon and Hyslop radically different aspirations from those expressed by Dewar and Brankin?

Back then I underlined key priorities that caught my eye in the executive summary that came with the big glossy thing. "Take steps to develop a national theatre for Scotland" can be marked as one of the more notable achievements, although it is interesting that the (pre-Creative Scotland) Scottish Arts Council's reaction in its "welcome" of the publication is distinctly cool on the idea. As for the proposed "national centres of excellence in the traditional arts", "national audit of collections in museums and galleries, beginning with the 'industrial' museums", and "all national cultural bodies to establish junior boards of young people"? Perhaps more limited success on those. And let's not get into the "exploration of the feasibility of establishing a film studio" right at the moment.

The Herald certainly voted mom-and-apple-pie 17 years ago. It would have been churlish not to – and First Minister Dewar wrapped the new strategy up with £7.25m of new money for its implementation over the next three years (which actually wasn't a huge amount even then). Now, however, we are clearly a more divided people on what constitutes "national"; the definition of "cultural" could always busy linguists and philosophers for aeons; and the idea of imposing "strategy" on artists who think state funding should be responsive to creative minds and the needs of the audience was surely discredited by the "stooshie" that almost smothered Creative Scotland in the crib.

It seems an oddly inopportune moment to make a claim on the time of the people keeping our vibrant arts sector in remarkably rude health, just to reinvent the wheel.