Kathryn Welch, Programme Lead for Culture Collective, looks ahead to the coming three months for the network…
The current phase of Culture Collective funding is scheduled to come to an end in October 2023, 2.5 years since the programme began in April 2021. This last three months is a time of mixed feelings; there’s a great deal of celebration to mark all that’s been achieved, with many projects planning events to mark this milestone. At the same time, there’s a strong sense of frustration that a programme so needed, with work that’s been so popular and successful, is currently due to come to an end, with no clear future for funding and continuation.
With that context in mind, here’s a look ahead for how we – as a network, plan to spend this next three months:
Embedding the sustainability of the network
Having worked so hard to build an active, thriving network for creative practitioners involved in Culture Collective projects, we’re determined that we do all we can to help these connections continue beyond the lifespan of the funded projects. We’re establishing and supporting peer support groups, delivering training in Action Learning Sets and Listening Circles, and supporting artists by investing in their training for their next steps.
Planning a celebration event
This October, we’ll be marking all that’s been achieved via a Culture Collective Celebration, held at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh. Here, we’ll be showing a short film programme of work produced by the network, setting up an exhibition and reading nook, hosting a reception with Minister for Culture Christina McKelvie, and showcasing excerpts of some of the live performances created by artists and communities. You’re warmly invited to join us online.
Advocating for the future
We continue to strongly make the case for the ongoing need for participatory and community-led creative activity, and to argue for its importance both for communities and within the creative sector. You can see us making this argument in person to the Scottish Government here, and in writing via consultations on budgets, international working and culture in communities.
Sharing our learning
The second and final phase of the Culture Collective evaluation, led by Queen Margaret University, is due to be completed in October (you can read phase one here). Featuring case studies from six of the Culture Collective projects, this will showcase some of the different ways that projects have worked in, with and for their communities, and set out some key enabling factors for future programmes like this.
As a Programme Lead team, we’re also working on a publication (provisionally called Our Voices), which will showcase some of the experiences of diverse artists who’ve been part of the network. Featuring disabled artists, POC artists, LGBTQ+ artists and those with caring responsibilities, this publication will gather together experiences and learning of what works, what helps and what next.
With this plan, we’re seeking to make the most of the time we have left as a funded network, whilst also doing all we can to plan for the future. We’re determined to leave Culture Collective artists, projects and communities in as strong a place as possible for whatever comes next. At the same time, we recognise that the need for this type of work hasn’t reduced, that it will always be in need of public funding to truly engage the most diverse communities, and that long-term, secure funding is absolutely necessary to work ethically, sustainable and meaningfully in this part of our creative sector.