In 2022, the external landscape in which we all operate continues to be radically changed and challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The need to address climate adaptation is more pressing than ever following the recent COP 26 event held here in Scotland, and we are striving to truly embed equalities, diversity, and inclusion within all that we do.
Businesses are facing immense trading and staffing challenges, and the economy of the culture sector continues to be precarious with ongoing disruption to scheduling and uptake of cultural activities.
Facing these financial, societal, and environmental challenges there has never been a greater need to establish creative partnerships between the business and culture sectors.
Throughout the past year, A&BS has continued to provide services to inspire new collaboration between the culture and business sectors, helping to unlock potential and provide solutions.
These included practical support through a mixed package of new online learning programmes adapted to the current circumstances; training to mitigate against the immediate impacts of COVID-19 and support longer-term sustainability; and continuing to support and fund new cross sector collaborations through our Culture & Business Fund Scotland (CBFS), as well as providing flexibility for existing projects that were delayed or moved to on-line delivery to mitigate the impact of the covid-19 pandemic.
We have been encouraged by the significant number of people who have taken part, and how this online delivery has provided support for individuals, organisations and businesses from across all areas of Scotland, helping to address our inclusion and environmental impact agendas.
We are also pleased to report that the introduction of the COVID-19 Recovery & Renewal strand of the CBFS has had the desired impact, with many existing and new culture and business partnerships receiving match funding support – the highest financial contribution that CBFS has enabled in any one year since the fund was established in April 2017.
As well as direct programme delivery, we have also been engaging with funders, policy makers and key influencers across the political, public, and business sectors to advocate for the value and impact of culture to our broader society and how this can contribute to social and economic recovery and renewal.
The stakeholder mapping exercises we have undertaken have helped to define needs and opportunities for the culture, public and business sectors, and we have shared our findings to date to test how they align with overarching national, regional, and local strategic objectives so we can all contribute to deliver against shared priorities for recovery and renewal. The findings indicate that key areas of concern and focus for development include mental health and wellbeing of staff, adaptation to new working patterns, addressing environmental challenges and how to become more inclusive and embed cultural delivery within local communities.
This year, we will continue to engage with our stakeholders and partners to define needs and develop solutions to the key areas identified above, by connecting the culture, public and business sectors to provide social, economic, and cultural benefits.
We will also continue to adapt and expand our training, learning, and networking programmes to ensure that all have the relevant skills, knowledge, expertise, and contacts to maximise collective opportunities.
We will be sharing more details on our development plans for 2022 early in the New Year, including a major cross sector online event on the 10th of February that will look at practical ways to connect the sectors to stimulate collaborations and partnership working, and the creation of an online marketplace to further support our mission of embedding business in culture and creativity in business, to develop entrepreneurial culture organisations and innovation in business. Registration for this event is already open on Eventbrite.
In the meantime, the Board and team at Arts & Business Scotland wish you all a prosperous and healthy new year.