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Traditional Arts and the State: the Scottish case

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Simon McKerrell



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


Since Scottish devolution from the United Kingdom in 1999, throughout the New Labour years and subsequently, there has been a sustained and growing commitment to Scottish traditional music, storytelling and dance, collectively defined in Scottish cultural policy as the ‘traditional arts’. The public policy discourse of traditional arts is at once politically related to a growing Scottish confidence and intimately bound into a personal and national politics of identity. Today, in this transitional time around the referendum on Scottish independence, the potential for Scottish traditional arts to make a substantial and more sustainable contribution to cultural life in Scotland is within reach, but there are some underlying problems that need to be addressed by the community of policy makers and artists. In this paper I will first examine the commodification and professionalization of Scottish traditional arts in broad terms, and then go on to use this as a means to understand the recent emergence of a national cultural policy of intrinsic worth for the traditional arts since 1993 and finally, to consider the possibilities and opportunities for a more robust cultural policy for the Scottish traditional arts post-referendum. In recognizing that traditional music has entered a new and self-conscious period of commodification today, we open the door for a debate about the ways in which traditional arts in contemporary society, can be performed and supported in a more equitable national cultural policy.

Publication metadata

Author(s): McKerrell S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cultural Trends

Year: 2014

Volume: 23

Issue: 3

Pages: 159-168

Print publication date: 11/06/2014

Online publication date: 11/06/2014

Date deposited: 10/10/2017

ISSN (print): 0954-8963

ISSN (electronic): 1469-3690

Publisher: Taylor & Francis


DOI: 10.1080/09548963.2014.925281

Notes: journal special issue title: Scottish Cultural Policy


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