A "National Arts Force" of freelance workers in the culture sector should be set up in Scotland, according to an advisory group to the Scottish government on economic recovery from Covid-19.
The group, chaired by former head of Tesco Bank Benny Higgins, was established in April this year to provide expert advice on supporting the different regions and sectors of Scotland’s economy to recover from the impacts of Covid-19
It set out 25 detailed recommendations for the broad Scottish economy in its report published on June 22.
In the section on culture, the report says: "Given the significant contribution of the arts, culture and creative industries to Scotland’s economy and to our social capital, the Scottish government should take steps to protect the sector; seek to increase public and private investment; and work to create a National Arts Force."
The recommendations on the culture sector come from a sub-group chaired by Joanna Baker, the former managing director of the Edinburgh International Festival who now chairs ScotGov’s National Partnership for Culture.
The sub-group’s report, published at the same time, states: "The sector is inherently innovative and entrepreneurial and can be integrated into recovery and development work right across the economy with particular emphasis on health and education including blended learning, tourism, leisure and overall well-being."
The sub-group’s report says the National Arts Force could "harness our vast range of talent and knowledge, including artists, designers, performers, technicians including in the gig and freelance economies".
It adds: "Arts, creative industries and culture have a great contribution to make to the delivery of ‘blended learning’. Such a scheme could include designers and technicians working on repurposing and reimagining public spaces, health-care facilities and venues for social distancing."
Announcing the report’s publication at her daily press briefing, first minister Nicola Sturgeon promised the Scottish government would provide detailed responses by the end of July.
She added she wanted to emphasise that "the Scottish government sees the report as a serious and substantive piece of work – and that we agree with its basic principles."