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Cultural Strategy Consultation

At its meeting of 29 September 2004, the City Council's Policy & Strategy Committee resolved to publish and circulate for formal consultation the following draft outline Cultural Strategy for Aberdeen produced by the Council's Arts, Culture and Heritage Strategy Task Group.

It is intended that the period of formal consultation should run from 1 October to 22 October 2004, after which the Strategy and responses to it will be taken back to the Task Group for further consideration and the production of a work plan for action for the period 2004/2008 flowing from the Cultural Strategy.

The finalised Cultural Strategy and work plan will be considered for approval by the Policy & Strategy Committee at its meeting of 1 December 2004.

This page sets out a range of points for action in the cultural field in Aberdeen to be undertaken over the coming three years. The actions are grouped within five key thematic areas.

This page also places this proposed range of actions within both the national and local context.

At the foot of this page is a summary of the responses received to the Strategy during an earlier phase of consultation.

To assist it in its deliberations on the matter, Task Group seeks your views, comments and suggestions on the document. Any input you wish to make should be sent by Monday 25 October to:

Ciaran Monaghan
Cultural Strategy & Service Planning Manager
Summerhill Centre
Stronsay Drive
AB15 6JA

fax: 01224 346412

Cultural Strategy Document

National Context

First Minister's St Andrew's Day Speech - 30 November 2003

"Our devolved government should have the courage and the faith to back human imagination, our innate creativity, as the most potent force for individual change and social vision.

I believe that we can now make the development of our creative drive, our imagination, the next major enterprise for our society. Arts for all can be a reality, a democratic right, and an achievement of the early 21st Century.

I believe this has the potential to be a new civic exercise on a par with health, housing and education - the commitment to providing and valuing creative expression for all."

Cultural Policy Statement - April 2004

"We will establish Scotland as a vibrant, cosmopolitan, competitive country and an internationally recognised creative hub.

We will do it by building an effective, sustainable infrastructure for our arts, heritage, screen and creative industries.

We will invest in the innate creativity of our young people and energise a new generation by creating an environment that encourages them to realise their cultural potential.

Cultural activity is central to all aspects of our lives - it can revitalise us individually and as a community. Its role in all areas of education is vital and must be fully integrated.

We need a new cultural vision for our country and a radically different way of delivering and sustaining our cultural services.

The review of the cultural sector is a generational opportunity to look seriously and maturely at our culture and decide the framework for its support in the future."

Cultural Commission - April 2004

"The Cultural Commission will use the First Minister's St Andrew's Day Speech and the Minister's policy statement to provide a policy context to its deliberations and will be asked to:

  • explore the notion of cultural rights for the Scottish citizen, and those of Scotland's creative community and define how these might be translated into a scheme of entitlements
  • redefine the institutional infrastructure and governance of the Scottish cultural sector to enable it to deliver the entitlements that spring from rights

Local Context

A Partnership for Aberdeen - May 2003

Wide opportunities for the creative use of leisure time are essential for stable flourishing communities. We believe the City Council should provide an accessible range of quality cultural opportunities for local communities both by direct provision and through partnerships with other agencies.

The Council will:

  • ensure that fuller use is made of arts facilities, by developing facilities in co-operation with local, voluntary and national bodies, and where appropriate, establish local community control over, and encourage joint use and integrated management of, all local facilities. We will review the Council's letting policies
  • further encourage the development of the arts within the community, including support for amateur theatre and music groups and talented local artists
  • encourage the formation of an Aberdeen Arts Council, coupled with a sound arts policy
  • continue financial support for the various City Festivals and move to a three-year funding package for the City Festivals
  • develop museums as community resources, encouraging the longest practicable opening hours
  • maintain free entry to Council-run museums
  • seek funding from the National Lottery and any other available partners for the provision of cultural facilities in Aberdeen

Community Plan - November 2001

To ensure that Aberdeen is recognised as a culturally vibrant city

Cultural activity will become part of everyday life for citizens of all ages and visitors to our City

Corporate Plan (2004/2008) Objectives/Critical Success Factors:
Community Challenge 6 - A Culturally Vibrant City - June 2004

CC06.01 To maintain and develop arts and heritage activities and venues which have a positive impact on the social, economic and cultural development of the City

improved range and standard of activities and venues in the City by 2008 (baseline information gathered in 2004/2005 and progress assessed annually)


increased number of productions/exhibitions/events by 2008 (baseline information gathered in 2004/2005 and progress assessed annually)

CC06.01.3 increased attendances at productions/exhibitions/events by 2008 (baseline information gathered in 2004/2005 and progress assessed annually)
CC06.02 To foster a strong, diverse and independent community
CC06.02.1 increased number of professional artists and makers in the City by 2008 (baseline information gathered in 2004/2005 and progress assessed annually)
CC06.02.2 increased involvement in organised creative activities across the City by 2008 (baseline information gathered in 2004/2005 and progress assessed annually)
CC06.02.3 increased neighbourhood-based arts and heritage activity by 2008 (baseline information gathered in 2004/2005 and progress assessed annually)
CC06.02.4 increased use of art in public spaces throughout the City by 2008 (baseline information gathered in 2004/2005 and progress assessed annually)
CC06.03 To encourage access to and participation in the City's arts and heritage life
CC06.03.1 increased involvement in arts development and arts education activities by 2008 (baseline information gathered in 2004/2005 and progress assessed annually)
CC06.03.2 improved co-ordination and focus of outreach activity across the City by 2008 (baseline information gathered in 2004/2005 and progress assessed annually)
CC06.03.3 increased number of lets of Council accommodation taken for arts and heritage activity by 2008 (baseline information gathered in 2004/2005 and progress assessed annually)
CC06.03.4 improved marketing and publicity of arts and heritage activities
CC06.03.5 maintain and improve arts and heritage festivals and events in the City
CC06.04 To strengthen support for and ownership of the City's distinctive cultural character
CC06.04.1 increase minority community arts and heritage events by 2008 (baseline information gathered in 2004/2005 and progress assessed annually)
CC06.04.2 increase the involvement of members of minority communities in arts and heritage events by 2008 (baseline information gathered in 2004/2005 and progress assessed annually)
CC06.04.3 increased access to and use of City's museums collections by 2008 (baseline information gathered in 2004/2005 and progress assessed annually)
CC06.04.4 increased levels and scope of local history activity across the City by 2008 (baseline information gathered in 2004/2005 and progress assessed annually)
CC06.05 To ensure a shared vision for the development of arts and heritage activities in the City is jointly delivered with all key partners playing their appropriate role
CC06.05.1 increased awareness of the City's strategic goals for arts and heritage
CC06.05.2 an Aberdeen Arts Council is formed
CC06.05.3 improve satisfaction levels with the City's information-sharing and consultation mechanisms in the arts and heritage field
CC06.05.3 increase the levels of external funding secured for arts and heritage activities in Aberdeen
CC06.05.4 improve the clarity of agreements reached between the Council and external cultural partners



concerned with ensuring that the City has in place a variety of means by which creative individuals and groups are supported to make their living in Aberdeen

  • support for professional artists/makers living and working in Aberdeen

    continue the Aberdeen City Council/Scottish Arts Council jointly-funded Aberdeen Visual Arts Awards Scheme, offering resident artists grants towards the costs of making new work and develop additional grant-aid opportunities for individual artists and groups in the City

  • commissioning of new work to be made in Aberdeen

    work with all appropriate partners, both local and national to support the making of new work in the City

  • infrastructure support for creative production

    continue to support major cultural organisations in the City including City Moves, the Lemon Tree and Peacock Visual Arts to ensure that professional artists can thrive in Aberdeen

    recognising the financial constraints under which the Council works, support major cultural organisations in the City to diversify their income streams

    work with appropriate colleagues in Scottish Enterprise Grampian and Gray's School of Art undertaking projects to develop the support infrastructure in the City for cultural and creative industries, including European Social Fund-supported web portal Creative Cultures, the establishment of a Cultural Enterprise Office in Aberdeen and the development of the Active Creatives network

  • development activities targeted on specific art forms

    work with all appropriate partners to ensure the development in the City of professional drama activity

  • teaching and learning activities

    taking a lead from the Cultural Policy Statement, develop and support projects integrating cultural activity into education working with schools, Aberdeen College and the universities


concerned with ensuring the highest possible standards in programmes, venues and organisational management

  • venues maintenance, refurbishment and development

    complete the current capital projects at His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen Beach and WASPS at Langstane Place

    establish the feasibility of developing a new cultural centre for Aberdeen and the North East - the venue to include theatre and music spaces and a new home for the Lemon Tree

    establish an agreed means of progressing the development of new premises for Peacock Visual Arts

    begin work on development plans for both Aberdeen Art Gallery and Provost Skene's House

  • programme development

    work closely with key cultural organisations to develop and augment the programmes of activity on offer in the City

    working both with locally-based individuals and organisations and with visiting artists and companies ensure that cultural activity of the very highest standard is available in the City throughout the year

    ensure that where appropriate partners from all sectors including public, private, voluntary and commercial are involved in the development of the cultural life of the City

  • organisation governance and management

    establish agreed service level agreements with all relevant cultural organisations in the City including Aberdeen International Youth Festival, Aberdeen Performing Arts, the Belmont, the Lemon Tree and Peacock Visual Arts

    agree service plan targets for the Council's cultural services

  • development of national and international partnerships

    work closely with the Scottish Executive, the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and the relevant national cultural agencies to ensure that Aberdeen's case is made at every opportunity and that appropriate funding is brought to the City

    review and develop the relationship between the four National Performing Arts Companies and the City


concerned with the encouragement of as many people as possible, of whatever age or ability, to take part in cultural activities in the City

  • the role of formal and informal education

    support and develop arts education activity throughout the City, working in partnership with all education providers

  • outreach activities undertaken by major organisations/venues

    work with all cultural partner organisations to ensure that a co-ordinated programme of outreach activities is undertaken across the City

    seek to establish a means by which improved access to Council facilities can be achieved

  • community-based work across the City

    develop and expand neighbourhood-based arts and heritage activity across the City

    support and develop the work of the Council's Arts Development Team

  • amateur organisations and activities

    continue and develop support for amateur cultural organisations across the City

    seek ways of facilitating improved opportunities to hire Council venues for amateur organisations

    undertake a review of means by which support might be improved for amateur cultural organisations in the City

  • audience development activities

    work with all appropriate colleagues to review the general marketing and publicity needs of arts and heritage in the City

    establish the necessary vehicles (web, magazine, etc.) to improve the means by which information is shared


concerned with engaging with and developing those aspects of arts, culture and heritage that are unique to Aberdeen and its surrounding area

  • North East cultural heritage

    (note - the City Council Chief Executive has developed a series of papers relating to the development in the City of heritage activities and entitlements, these papers will be brought to the Arts, Culture and Heritage Strategy Task Group at a future meeting)

    develop means by which the arts and heritage of the City's minority communities are supported and celebrated as a fundamental aspect of Aberdeen's cultural character

    support and develop projects and activities that encourage a greater interest in and appreciation of the local history of Aberdeen

  • traditional culture

    work with appropriate partners such as Scottish Culture and Traditions and Feis Obar Dheathain to ensure that traditional culture flourishes in the City

  • the built and natural environment

    support initiatives to protect and enhance the built heritage of Aberdeen and develop an appreciation of it

  • the story of Aberdeen

    review the requirements of the City's stored museum collections and develop improved public access to them

    continue the development of digital access to the City's museum collections and seek ways in which to encourage increasing use of the available materials

  • regional partnerships

    work with appropriate partner agencies including Aberdeenshire Council, Scottish Enterprise Grampian and Aberdeen & Grampian Tourist Board to establish and agree regional cultural priorities through an agreed Regional Cultural Strategy

    develop partnership projects delivered across the North East including the Regional Museums Partnership


concerned with putting in place mechanisms to celebrate and market both within the City and to visitors the programmes of cultural activity on offer in Aberdeen

  • development of cultural festivals and events

    review and where necessary develop and re-focus the programme of arts and heritage festivals and events in the City, recognising the importance of the Council's role as a supporter of this work rather than it being required to undertake it itself

    work closely with the major cultural festivals including Aberdeen Jazz Festival, Aberdeen Music Festival, Triptych, Rootin Aboot' , Word and Aberdeen International Youth Festival to develop their programmes and augment the impact they have locally and beyond

  • proactive marketing and public relations activity

    develop in partnership with all key cultural organisations in the City programmes of marketing activity with the key aim of raising the profile of the City's cultural life both locally and beyond

  • cultural tourism

    develop and implement with Aberdeen & Grampian Tourist Board and VisitScotland targeted campaigns that enhance the City's drawing power both nationally and internationally as a cultural tourism destination

  • celebration and advocacy

    establish an Aberdeen Arts Council to advocate the importance of cultural activity in the life of the City

    support groupings of organisations and projects that seek to raise the profile of cultural activity in Aberdeen and celebrate the impact it makes on the lives of citizens and visitors

  • public art development across the City

    advocate the inclusion of work by artists in any new developments in the City and seek to ensure that art features prominently in any new or re-developed public spaces across Aberdeen


Cultural Strategy - pre-consultation draft

Summary of Responses

The Cultural Strategy was circulated widely as a pre-consultation draft during July and August and a summary of responses received at that time is given here.

All responses were positive; welcoming the development of the Strategy and endorsing the themes set out in the document. Issues raised in the responses can be set out under the following headings:

additional project ideas

  • seafront sculpture display
  • commissioning an established theatre director to develop work performed by North East actors with a theme/issue relevant to the area
  • entitlement for each school-age child to have at least one visit to a cultural venue each year
  • ways by which incoming students to the three Further Education and Higher Education institutions in the City might be introduced to and engage with local cultural activities
  • one central point of co-ordination for the letting of Council equipment and venues (importance of this aspect of in-kind support to cultural organisations)
  • more efficient ways of making Council facilities available to be explored (web-based booking systems etc.)
  • wider range of venues to be used for poetry readings
  • annual schools' poetry competition to be established
  • establishment of the post of City Poet Laureate
  • find ways on opening the Tolbooth year-round
  • encourage access opportunities through new venues such as a museum of Aberdeen
  • new architectural guide to the City
  • assess venue requirements for participatory arts
  • assess venue requirements of City Moves
  • add in a commitment to developing good modern design in the City

endorsement of particular aspects of the document

  • Aberdeen Arts Council
  • to include a marketing/PR co-ordinator
  • to assist in setting priorities
  • Cultural Enterprise Office
  • enhanced collaboration between arts and community organisations in programme development and delivery
  • development of a more coherent approach to the developing and marketing of festivals, events, activities and facilities
  • to include common promotion/advertising/main sponsors
  • commission new works to mark significant local landmarks, personalities and historical events
  • ensure funding is available to import and export nationally established poets for reading throughout the North East
  • support for the Chief Executive's heritage papers
  • emphasis on partnership working welcomed
  • development of museum-based education activities
  • importance of ensuring activities to nurture young people with creative talent

proposed revisions to the document

  • priority to be given to the need to preserve and celebrate North East Scottish character, particularly Doric
  • need to provide for the continued acquisition of fine art for the City's collections
  • more exploitation of the University of Aberdeen's museums collections to the benefit of the local community
  • support for local musicians to develop new work and to meet/travel outwith the City to promote it
  • recognise the importance of tutor/teacher training
  • recognise the importance of informal education
  • important to ensure quality teaching/participation space in the City as well as performance and exhibition space
  • ensure that Aberdeen involves itself in all relevant Scotland-wide, UK-wide and international festivals as well as developing its own events
  • emphasis required for proper custodial care of heritage resources (including stores) as well as for access initiatives
  • importance of the City's natural heritage to be given further prominence
  • include reference to the development of activities to encourage creative crafts
  • include reference to the proposed Centre of Excellence in Design Innovation
  • develop programmes to prepare graduates for life in cultural careers
  • recognise the importance of projects and activities offering paid work to artists
  • ensure clear linkages to other non-cultural strategic priorities in the City
  • development of links with cultural organisations with a national touring remit
  • ensure due emphasis is given to the non-marketing aspects of audience development such as access issues

wish to ensure recognition of contribution by being featured by name

  • Aberdeen City Music School
  • Aberdeen Artists' Society
  • North East Arts Touring
  • Arts Education Unit
  • Storytelling Festival
  • City Moves Dance Space

delivery mechanics

  • fewer critical success factors required with statements of achievable and measurable objectives
  • need to prioritise aspirations by importance and potential impact
  • need to ensure clear costings against actions, concern that the aspirations may be prohibitively expensive
  • requirement to ensure recognition of the limitations of the resources available from the Council in delivering the Strategy
  • need to develop agreed monitoring and evaluation procedures
  • review the links between this document and Aberdeenshire Council's cultural strategy
  • need for emphasis on quality and excellence rather than solely on increasing numbers
  • need for clear criteria, action plans and SMART targets
  • need to include timescales and milestones
  • include reference to the City Council's statutory responsibilities in cultural activity
  • clear linkages to be made between the Strategy document and the Corporate Plan