My former research supervisor Prof. Philip Schlesinger scores another direct hit with his observations on resistance to evidence by policy makers, judging by his lecture remarks reported recently in the Times Higher Education Supplement. His comments on how Creative Scotland’s board was apparently disinclined to accept his team’s analysis of the tensions inherent between the culture/industry value systems echo that wonderful, pithy remark of John Maynard Keynes:
“There is nothing a government hates more than to be well informed; for it makes the process of arriving at decisions much more complicated and difficult.”
The evidence base for Scottish cultural/creative industries policy is, to say the least, impoverished and the role of disinterested analysis of how policy is formulated and applied (not the same thing!) and whether it produces the intended outcomes (or indeed if the outcomes we get are a result of policies or despite them) is poorly understood and valued even less. You will find scant evidence thus far of a commitment to engaging with policy research expertise in Creative Scotland’s plans or pronouncements, nor in the advisory groups/board composition. Expect a continuous flow of convenient consultants’ reports saying what is expected of them and finding out that ‘by gosh, overall everything we do does what we thought it would and all is right with the world – keep up the good work’.
Well perhaps that’s a little jaundiced – let’s give CS the benefit of the doubt and look forward with anticipation to a healthy and long overdue engagement with the idea of evidence-based policy which, while now almost old hat in many sectors, is very much a new kid on the block when it comes to Scotland’s cultural and creative industries NDPBs. So lets end on a more positive note with another Kenyes quote:
“It would not be foolish to contemplate the possibility of a far greater progress still.”