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Reflecting on 2022 and moving forward in 2023

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Posted 15 December 2022

A year ago today, we reflected upon challenges that had been faced over the previous twelve months and looked forward to moving forward in 2022. Unfortunately, much of that optimism for recovery and renewal has evaporated due to ongoing political, economic, and social instability that has been further exasperated by the war in Ukraine and the resultant cost of living crisis.  

Now, more than ever, cultural engagement is vital for us all. It is the glue that binds communities together, provides welcome respite from the challenges that we face, and uplifts our spirits to enable us to be positive. 

Throughout 2022, Arts & Business Scotland has been working to support the culture sector and others to rise to these collective challenges. We have developed new initiatives, alongside the delivery of our core programmes and services to encourage and enable the culture and business sectors to come together to unlock potential and provide solutions.

In March of this year, we undertook a survey of business and public sector professionals to better understand the trading and staffing challenges they face, and test what role cultural engagement could play to address these needs. 114 respondents clearly articulated a value for cultural engagement and a recognition that engaging with arts or historic environment organisations could provide innovative solutions to address business needs.

Much of this relates to new internal business challenges that have emerged through the pandemic. With people working from home, there is an increased need to manage staff wellbeing. Businesses are concerned about productivity, and the need to find ways to encourage innovation and creativity in the workplace. They recognise the need for new approaches to team building to be more efficient and creative.  Another crucial shift within business has been an increased awareness of the importance of deeper connections with their local communities and the opportunity to partner with culture organisations to realise these ambitions. 

We compared the findings from the business and public sector undertaken this year with those gathered from our previous survey of 196 arts and historic environment organisations.

For businesses, 9 out of 10 see the culture and creative sector as important to their business, but only 20% find it easy to engage. Around 60% are interested in a creative marketplace – a place to source creative solutions.

The culture sector survey told us that 96% seek business engagement, however only 17% find this easy to do. We also found that 61% are interested in getting support on developing business networks. 

This led to the concept for The Culture & Business Marketplace – a new platform that is currently under development as part of the new A&BS website. Over twenty arts and historic environment organisations have been recruited onto the pilot for this programme, to showcase their products and services that can provide solutions to societal and business challenges and needs. In doing this, we believe that this can be a vital tool to support culture organisations in diversifying income streams at a time when levels of public funding have or are likely to decrease.

Alongside the above, our training, learning, and networking programmes will continue to evolve to help develop skills, knowledge, expertise, and contacts to maximise collective opportunities.

We will also continue to engage with key influencers and decision makers across the political, public, and business sectors to champion the value and impact of culture on our broader society and the importance of the sector to social and economic recovery and renewal.

Early in the new year, we will unveil other new developments and initiatives to ensure that our world class cultural offer is nurtured and supported. This will culminate with the launch of The Culture & Business Marketplace in spring. 

Until then, the Board and team at Arts & Business Scotland wish you a happy festive period and a healthy and prosperous new year.

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