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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Welch

Culture Collective wins The Stage's Community Project of the Year award, 2024

Earlier this year, we heard lovely news that Culture Collective had won The Stage's award for Community Project of the Year. After 2.5 years as Programme Lead for Culture Collective, I was delighted to see the work of communities, artists and creative organisations recognised, as Lyn Gardner wrote for The Stage, as - "a shining example of how when art is embedded in communities there are many different winners and not just artists or those communities but a wider society".

Photo: Karen Dick of Creative Scotland accepts The Stage award. Photo credit - David Monteith Hodge

The award was made on the basis of this beautifully-worded nomination, so many thanks to those who nominated us, and a collective congraulations to the many hundreds of brilliant individuals who were an integral part of making Culture Collective happen.

Culture Collective: Community Project of the Year, The Stage Awards 2024

Anyone who has ever wondered what might happen if governments and funders understood the crucial role that the arts play in collective well-being, local pride and national prosperity might look to Scotland’s Culture Collective, the grassroots initiative created in response to Covid, which focuses on community creative activity and projects where creative practitioners and communities work and co-create together.

That may be a drama group for girls in Fife where no such provision previously existed, a play made by refugees about their experiences or a co-created musical made by young people growing up in Skye, Raasay and Lochalsh.

Using pandemic recovery funds to support 26 organisations – ranging from tiny community hubs to regularly funded organisations across Scotland – Culture Collective has had a transformative effect on some of the communities hit hardest by the pandemic. It has also been vital for freelancers, who have been able to work in their own, sometimes remote, communities and know they will be decently paid and receive access to training – all against a backdrop of a chronically underfunded sector.

A great deal of community work involves enthusiastic but often disconnected artists coming from elsewhere to help, but one of the crucial components of Culture Collective is the way it has recognised the expertise that already exists in communities. In the process, it has smashed some of the hierarchies that bedevil so many community projects and was designed to encourage flexibility and trust so that projects could follow need and interest.

Culture Collective has laid the foundations for communities and arts practitioners to build a future together and thrive.


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