The Scottish Executive has published a draft Culture
Bill which is out for consultation until 31 March 2007.In addition
it has published draft guidance for local authorities on how
to deliver the concept of cultural entitlements and how to lead
cultural planning in the community. UNISON has large numbers
of members working in culture-related services –Education, Libraries,
Museums, Theatres, Arts Development, Community Education, Therapeutic
Arts and many other services, our members are also citizens
of Scotland and keen consumers of culture.
This briefing highlights the main points of the
Bill and asks for comments on the proposals.
The Scottish Executive has published this Bill
to achieve some of the aims of its January 2006 statement Scotland's
Culture (the Executive claim that some of those aims are
covered by existing legislation or do not require legislation).
Scotland's Culture was the Executive response to the Cultural
Commission's Report – a Review of Culture in Scotland.
UNISON contributed to that report. http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/response/culturecom.html.
Scotland's Culture has two aims: to support talent and
excellence nationally, and encourage the use of culture to make
a positive impact on areas; and to deliver cultural entitlements
locally and get local authorities to plan their delivery of
Overview of proposed legislation
The Bill proposes legislation in three areas:
- local provision – the bill proposes to reform existing
legislation governing local authorities' duties to deliver
cultural services, and encourages them to work with communities
to plan cultural services and deliver 'cultural entitlements'
- It proposes to establish a 'new' national quango –
Creative Scotland – from the existing Scottish Arts
Council and Scottish Screen. This will encourage and fund
artists, and cultural providers (although funding of some
national cultural companies has already been taken into
the Executive itself) and issue advice on standards.
- 'Updates' are proposed to the governance of the National
Collections – the National Library, National Museums, National
Galleries, National Archives and the Royal Commission of
Ancient and Historic Monuments (to be renamed the National
In addition legislation is proposed to outlaw
dealing in 'Tainted' cultural objects – items removed illegally
from their own culture - and to bring the powers of local councils
to use TV and radio to provide information up to the position
of councils in England & Wales. This last will also require
The bill states that local councils must:
- Inform people about proposals for cultural
services and how they can access
them (their cultural entitlement)
- Have regard to Ministerial guidance about
delivering services. Guidance will follow on planning,
services, who and how to consult, how to access services,
assessing performance, and ways in which authorities can perform
- Provide information to ministers
It adds a 'cultural consideration' that councils
must consider before records are destroyed
It repeals the requirement for authorities to
directly provide library services, (effectively enabling them
to be transferred to a trust).
The separate guidance document goes into some
detail on the ways authorities should undergo consultation,
engage with communities, utilise cultural services to assist
in delivering other objectives (anti –poverty strategies, community
development etc) and the need to tie the delivery of cultural
entitlements into community planning.
This section defines the new functions of the
new body – see above. It also provides the power for Ministers
to issue instructions to the new body. It might be worth asking
if this is intended to be a 'new' body, whether a new approach
is likely if the joint board is made up overwhelmingly of existing
The legislation reforms the governing bodies of
the various national collections – although they remain as NDPBs
(except the NAS which remains as an Executive department.) Essentially
this removes any special places on the boards reserved for groups
(including trade unionists on the NLS Board!). But it retains
a special place for the Faculty of Advocates!
It also outlines the general powers of these bodies
– including working with local collections and their powers
and duties of disposals and loans.
Dealing in Tainted Cultural Objects
This is the section that creates a new Scottish
offence of 'dealing in tainted cultural objects', and defines
the meanings of the offence and how a 'tainted' object is created.
The penalties for this are also spelt out. The individual, as
well as any corporate body, is liable.
Action for branches
Branches are urged to discuss this proposed legislation
with members who work in cultural services – libraries, museums,
arts development, theatres and halls, art therapists, education
workers and many others.
In particular they should discuss the key issues
raised by this Bill that might affect the work of these members,
- eg cultural entitlements; hiving off services to trusts; how
to increase access to culture; how cultural planning can fit
into community planning etc and other issues and formulate any
responses. These should be sent to Chris Bartter at email@example.com