Bridging the gap between creative industries and businesses for economic transformation – Jane Morrison-Ross, Chair of Arts & Business Scotland
We all know the difficulties that are being faced by a range of sectors with the energy and cost-of-living crisis following close after the unprecedented difficulties of the pandemic.
Today, as Scotland faces financial, societal, and environmental challenges, the need has never been greater, across both culture and business, for agile thinking, innovation and cross-sector collaboration. Recent news from Creative Scotland regarding potential substantial funding cuts is another key driver for action.
I was recently appointed chair of Arts & Business Scotland, and our mission to be the connector between the two sectors is one that is more important than ever. All too often, arts and business are thought of as two totally separate spheres, which is a missed opportunity for both.
As we all continue to rise to collective challenges, we must also establish and consolidate creative partnerships between the business and culture sectors. These in turn, will bring major cultural, social, and economic benefits both here and internationally. The success of our nation’s cultural profile relies on this, and the creative and cultural sector has an essential role to play in facilitating a thriving and innovative economy.
I believe that at a UK wide level, we are missing an opportunity to harness creative thinking and use it to drive real transformation across the economic landscape.
A recent survey of business and public sector professionals focused on what role cultural engagement could play in addressing issues such as trading and staffing challenges. More than 100 respondents agreed that engaging with arts and historic environment organisations had a major impact in providing innovative solutions to address business needs. Another survey of businesses found that 9 out of 10 see the culture and creative sector as important to their company, but only 20% find it easy to engage – a clear validation of the Arts & Business objectives.
Culture is the mechanism that brings creativity and creative thinking. We have a window of opportunity with the National Strategy for Economic Transformation, to get that stake in the ground and be key partners when it comes to strategic public sector innovation and decision making, harnessing people with the skills to bring in a different, creative approach into the heart of economic development and growth.
Acrylics manufacturer Midton Acrylics Ltd, is a shining example of how this can work – through their partnership with Glasgow School of Art, students have been using newly developed recycled acrylic materials to create original sculptures. This has benefited both the students’ development and the business’s sustainability and growth.
We can help the business sector harness the power of creative thinking, accelerate problem solving and product development and think laterally to take advantage of the opportunities challenging times can bring. The creative industries have demonstrated this throughout the pandemic, pivoting, surviving and thriving often with very limited investment but with creative and agile thinking.
How can we turn words into action? Later this year, Arts & Business Scotland will bring creative thinking to the workplace and create opportunities for the culture and business sectors to connect and thrive through the launch of the Culture & Business Marketplace – a new platform that aims to address exactly this.
Our key objective is to ensure that the value and return on businesses establishing creative partnerships is fully realized. We believe the Marketplace will be the transformational tool to deliver this, whilst increasing the commercial sector’s confidence and trust in the culture sector as a valuable partner. It will also help the vital creative industries to build new, sustainable income streams during a time of challenging public funding.
Now is the time for Arts & Business Scotland to be the catalyst in bringing the culture and business sectors in Scotland together to unlock the huge economic potential and build a stronger future on our unique commercial and cultural heritage.