Fiona HYSLOP has used a major speech to set Scotland's cultural policies apart from Westminster, saying she believes supporting the arts is a "fundamental good" and they should not merely be measured as an economic commodity.

The Culture Secretary said supporting culture and the arts should not be measured for their benefit in "pounds and pence" but valued because they are our "heart, our soul, our essence".

She said the UK Government is wrong to measure the value of culture in economic terms.

The speech, at the Talbot Rice Gallery in Edinburgh, sets the Scottish Government's view of culture and Government's role in it against that of the Westminster coalition, whose Culture Minister, Maria Miller, said that culture should be presented as a "commodity" and "compelling product" to sell at home and abroad.

Today Creative Scotland, the national arts funding body, announces its new chief executive, six months after Andrew Dixon quit amid a crisis last year.

Delivering the annual David Talbot Rice Memorial Lecture at the gallery of Edinburgh University last night, Ms Hyslop said: "The culture and heritage sectors make an invaluable contribution to our economic life, but despite these challenging times 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."

Ms Hyslop said Ms Miller had asked the culture sector to help her make the arguments about the economic impact of culture in the context of economic growth.

Ms Hyslop said: "I don't agree. I don't need or want the culture or heritage sector to make a new economic or social case to justify public support for their work.

"I know what these sectors can deliver because I see it in action. I visit hardworking artists and practitioners who are exploring new ways of working; and who are creating dynamic and exciting new ways of enjoying and sharing their work and the work of our ancestors – they think in new ways precisely because they are artists."

She said the Scottish Government does not look "at our cultural life and heritage as if they are merely products that can be bought and sold". She added: "If there was ever a way to suck the vitality out of a topic that should energise, invigorate, inspire and move, it is to make a perfunctory nod to generic social benefits and then, in the next breath, reduce it to nothing more than a commodity.

"I profoundly disagree, however, in seeing that as its only, or most important, value. For me, culture's economic value is not its primary purpose but a secondary benefit."

Ms Hyslop, who in her speech praised a variety of Scottish-based artists and companies, including the three artists representing Scotland at the Venice Biennale, the National Theatre of Scotland's Black Watch and the Big Noise programme in Raploch, Stirling and Govanhill, Glasgow, did acknowledge that the "economic effects of culture are valuable".

She praised Wee Andy, a piece of theatre written and directed by Paddy Cunneen and the Glasgow Girls production, conceived and directed by Cora Bissett.

Other Scottish success stories include Karla Black, nominated for the 2011 Turner Prize.

Government spending on culture in Scotland fell from £156.8m in 2012/13 to £153.3m in 2013/14 but the cuts have not been on the same level as in England. Arts Council England has had its budget cut heavily by around £11.6 million in lost funding. In 2011, 206 English bodies suffered 100% funding cuts.

Ms Hyslop referred to the Creative Scotland rows, which were primarily about personalities and policies, rather than cuts.

She said: "Regardless of whether the discussion has been uncomfortable or exciting, it has often come down to a debate on whether culture has a value in itself or whether we should also be considering a wider 'public good' and how culture and heritage contributes to economic, social and personal well-being."