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Education Culture & Sport
Highland Council - Caithness
Vision of Caithness
2 Introduction and methodology
2.1 Highland Council commissioned this Arts Development Study for Caithness through a steering committee in September 2002. The membership of the steering committee comprised Tom Bryan, Arts Development Officer (Caithness), Katrina Gordon, Chair, Caithness Arts, Eann Sinclair, Head of Projects, Caithness and Sutherland Enterprise and William Wilson, Director, Lyth Arts Centre. The brief for the Study, which was clearly differentiated from a ‘strategy’, required it to ‘set out what the Area wants to achieve or influence in order to improve opportunities for participation and performance in all the arts, for all sectors of the community’. The brief recognised that a Highland-wide Cultural Strategy was in preparation, and determined that this Study should inform the development of that Highland Cultural Strategy, ‘particularly in the area of attitudes to the arts and barriers to access and participation’.
2.2 The brief outlined seven Key Outcomes it expected from the Study and nine Objectives through which these outcomes should be defined. The Objectives are contained in this report as Appendix 1. The Key Outcomes were as follows:
1. An assessment of where we are now
2. A review of current attitudes to the Arts in Caithness
3. Identification of barriers to access and participation
4. A recommended vision statement for the Arts in Caithness that is likely to receive community and political support
5. Recommendations of actions that could be taken, within current resources, to increase levels of participation, performance and excellence
6. Recommendations of action that could be taken, within current resources, to promote employment opportunities in the Arts
7. Clear recommendations of what further steps we might take to deliver the vision. These should identify specific outcomes linked to budgets and costs, and be based on a realistic view of likely funding from external sources.
2.3 The project involved wide-ranging research and marketplace analysis to provide a background to and inform the Arts Development Study for Caithness.
· One to one interviews with interested people in the community and local representatives,
· Consultation with local groups and organisations,
· Meetings with local authority officers and members and representatives of funding bodies and other agencies,
· Qualitative research focus groups,
· Quantitative research on current attenders,
· Analysis of the potential catchment area for activities in the towns in Caithness,
· Assessment of current facilities and available venues in Caithness, including site visits to a sample of venues and galleries,
· Evaluation of options for the provision of arts and entertainment facilities,
· Evaluation of existing feasibility studies for venue development in Caithness,
· Analysis of Scottish Arts Council and Highland Council arts policy documents and relevant other policy and information documents.
2.4 In order to achieve as wide a range of input as possible, following study of existing documentation, interviews took place over a period extending from October 2003 until March 2004. Within this period, public meetings and focus groups took place in November 2004 followed up by analysis of a questionnaire survey of 150 respondents in December 2003 and January 2004. To ensure the further robustness of the evidential background to this report, population data on Caithness was reviewed in the light of UK-wide data research.
2.5 During this process it became clear that a number of likely recommendations would not be susceptible in the timescale of this report to budget costing in terms of Outcome Seven. This was in part because these recommendations depended on the development of co-operative partnerships that could not begin to identify cost implications until proposals were further developed within those partnerships. In other cases, the recommendations would depend on agreement being reached as to the scope of individual capital developments by third parties, for example North Highland College, for which the team could have no proper locus within the terms of its remit. Finally, a number of recommendations related to new co-operation between voluntary bodies where costing as between voluntary and possible professional activity could only be established after negotiations by those bodies. In the light of these considerations, the steering committee agreed that Outcome Seven would be met provided that, at all times, due attention was paid by the team to likely funding.