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EACEA National Policies Platform


8. Creativity and Culture

8.1 General context

Last update: 25 January 2021
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  1. Main trends in young people's creativity and cultural participation
  2. Main concepts


Main trends in young people's creativity and cultural participation

There is no single source of data on young people's participation in cultural activities. However, information from a number of different sources, not all youth specific, can be drawn together to give an indication of levels and types of activity.

The Scottish Household Survey 2019 data shows that nine in ten (90 per cent) adults were culturally engaged, either by attending or visiting a cultural event or place or by participating in a cultural activity. The figure has been maintained since 2018. Around eight in ten adults (81 per cent) in Scotland had attended or visited a cultural event or place of culture in the last 12 months[18]. The most popular form of cultural attendance was going to the cinema (58 per cent), followed by attendance at live music events (37 per cent). It’s important to note this survey does not segregate answers by age so these figures are reflective of anyone over 18.


Barriers to accessing cultural experiences 

A number of barriers challenging young people's cultural participation in Scotland were identified in funding (see article on 'National strategy on creativity and culture for young people' for more information) as follows:

  • the cost is prohibitive
  • the availability of local cultural infrastructure varies from area to area
  • geography and transport can act as significant barriers
  • inexperience and lower levels of ability can also act as challenges
  • accessibility for young people with varying levels of disability is often problematic
  • young people from black, asian and minority ethnic backgrounds (BAME) are under-represented in the arts as a whole

Moreover, the strategy also highlights that family environment, socio-economic status and peers and peer involvement all have an effect on the cultural participation levels of young people.

In February 2020, the National Trust for Scotland published new public opinion research on current cultural activity in Scotland, and the barriers to its development, ahead of Scotland’s Culture Strategy that was published in February 2020 also. The research found that 25% of respondents considered there were no barriers to enjoying culture. Compared to the population as a whole, barriers to participation were more commonly experienced by young people (29% higher incidence than average), those on lower incomes (17% higher), ethnic minorities (23.5% higher), those identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender (38.6% higher), and people with disabilities (40% higher). The greatest barrier to participation is cost (43%), followed by lack of time, confidence, transport and lack of information (the latter was particularly an issue for women, at 50%).

Local cultural provision was rated as ‘good’ by 48% of the population (48% good, 15% average, 30% poor), but was lower for women (43%), for members of the ethnic minorities (40%) and for those in the lowest income bracket (41%).

Respondents with lower incomes (<£19,999) were less likely to rate the provision of cultural activity in their area as good (41%), compared to middle- (49%) and high-income groups (60%).

The implications of COVID-19 are recognised to pose a major barrier to accessing cultural experiences in various ways with physical access to museums, cinemas, art programmes ceasing. 

Main concepts

Scotland’s Culture Strategy 2020 states:

Culture is woven through everyday life, shapes and is shaped by society, and its transformative potential is experienced by everyone. Scotland’s rich cultural heritage and creativity of today is inspired by people and place, enlivens every community and is celebrated around the world. 

And is guided by the principles that:

  • Culture in Scotland is valued in and of itself

  • Culture is free to be inspiring and to challenge

  • Culture is central to the future wellbeing and prosperity of Scotland – cultural, social, economic and environmental

  • We celebrate the diversity and excellence of cultures in Scotland and the value of open exchange with the wider world

  • Everyone has the right to participate freely in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits (Article 27, Universal Declaration of Human Rights)2

  • Place - community, landscape, language and geography – is important and reflects the creativity of the past and provides inspiration for cultural expression today

What is Creativity? Scotland's Creative Learning Plan, published in 2013 by Creative Scotland and the Scottish Government (see article on 'National strategy on creativity and culture for young people' for more information), defines creativity as:

the capacity to generate ideas that have value to the individual, to look at familiar things with a fresh eye, to examine problems with an open mind, make connections, learn from mistakes and use the imagination to explore new possibilities.

Moreover, Time to Shine: Scotland's Youth Arts Strategy for ages 0-25 (Creative Scotland, 2013), says that ‘the 'arts' can refer to activity well beyond some traditional definitions’, and involves ‘[engagement] in any creative, expressive or cultural activity in any environment’.