Culture and Heritage: A Manifesto for Local Government

A cross-sector call for ambition, imagination and investment ahead of May’s local elections.

BEFS has been working with Creative Edinburgh, Creative Lives, Go Industrial, Museums Association, Regional Screen Scotland, Scottish Contemporary Art Network, Scottish Council on Archives, and West of Scotland Regional Equality Council on a project led by Museums Galleries Scotland to form a Cultural Manifesto for the Local Government Elections. The manifesto demonstrates both the value of Culture & Heritage, but also sets out the asks needed to support cultural-heritage from a Local Government perspective.

Read the full Manifesto on the Museums Galleries Scotland website.

The call is centred around ambition, imagination and investment, with clear outcomes supporting and sustaining vibrant communities across Scotland. BEFS will be collaborating with partners across the sector to communicate the Manifesto to the political parties to build support ahead of May’s elections.

How culture and heritage supports both recovery, and contributes to economic development, health, wellbeing and education outcomes is highlighted. Local provision makes significant benefits to communities, both through cultural activies; but also through that sense of place – where our under-used civic sites can be reused (temporarily or permanently), enhancing our places. Pragmatic suggestions include considerations for multi-year funding; rates relief, and increased collaboration across services. The place of our cultural environment to support net-zero ambitions, both through our sites and through engagement activities is also made clear.

The range of partners involved in this process demonstrated not just the willingness to collaborate but the breadth of cultural-heritage impacts found at local level. The process of co-producing really aided collective understanding of what culture and heritage can support within any local community; if sustained and enabled to thrive.

In changing social and economic times there are ever more pulls on the public purse-strings. This manifesto helps to balance the understanding of the benefits of local delivery of cultural and heritage. All of our people deserve access to a rich diversity of culture and heritage provision – not only because it can stimulate the senses and provide educational benefits; but because these provisions support thriving places, bringing economic and health advantages. Whether meeting friends and family for a walk round a historic town centre, or attending a specific event within a new arts centre; the benefits are shown to extend wider than those directly involved.

We look forward to continuing to work with partners, supporting our places and their creative and cultural amenities in the run-up to the local elections. All parties have been sent the Manifesto and meetings are being arranged as necessary. Each party has a different approach to Local Manifesto making – but we remain hopeful that asks within the Culture and Heritage Manifesto can be taken on by political Parties throughout Scotland.

BEFS extends thanks to all participants in the process, and commends MGS for leading on this beneficial piece of work.