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National Performing Companies Action Plan

We're working with the National Performing Companies of Scotland to measure the depth, reach and breadth of their collective work & communicate findings to Scottish Government & policy stakeholders.

The NPCs are part of a rich cultural tapestry that makes Scotland a truly creative nation - renowned at home and abroad for a unique cultural heritage and world-class producers. Creating and sharing work locally, nationally and internationally, we've been able to demonstrate how the NPCs are making a significant contribution to the creative and cultural life of Scotland, as well as reach an impressive diversity of citizens and communities across the country and the wider world too. It has been a real pleasure working with the five companies to help shape their advocacy plans for the coming years.

Trevor MacFarlane FRSA, Director and Chief Executive of Culture Commons

Our approach

Working alongside data specialists at The Audience Agency, the Culture Commons team designed a programme of activity to better understand how, and to what extent, the “big five” are having social impacts for the people of Scotland, and how those impacts might best be evidenced to inform policymaking at the national level.

We set out with a working hypothesis that the NPCs have long been having impacts in policy areas that can reasonably be described as ‘priorities’ for local and national policymakers, but that these impacts are not necessarily always understood. Further, that these impacts can often extend far beyond the policy areas that policymakers traditionally associate with the creative and cultural sectors.


To close this gap and achieve ‘cut through’ with key policymakers sitting across different policy portfolios, we devised a series of Policy Impact Narratives. Simply expressed, and in the context of this specific commission, Policy Impact Narratives are:

Stage 1 – Policy Mapping


Firstly, we carefully collated and analysed current policies in Scotland, both at the local and national levels, in a comprehensive desk-based literature review. This process enabled us to understand the political context of the SNP-led Scottish Government, identify the most up-to-date strategic thinking and priorities of the Scottish Government under Humza Yousef and capture trends in an evolving policy agenda for local government, with a particular focus on Glasgow and Edinburgh as NPC ‘home cities’. We were ultimately able to land on Eight Policy Areas: the central policy domains that are likely to be front and centre of Scotland’s policy agenda for the foreseeable future.

Stage 2 – NPC Priorities


We undertook to understand the NPCs individual strategic priorities and flagship programmes to identify opportunities to bring them together with a more collective framing. We did this by reviewing annual reports and grey literature and through our workshops with NPC representatives. We observed several commonalties across the organisations and relayed these back to sense-check them with the teams.


Stage 3 – Stakeholder Priorities


We then met with a variety of key external policy stakeholders sitting at different levels of government and decision making across Scotland. We met with senior parliamentarians (of all political persuasions), Scottish Government staff, local elected representatives and officials, as well as other sector advocacy bodies too. We did this work to better understand how policy and political stakeholders currently view the work of the NPCs, explore where their policy priorities might align and therefore consider how relationships might be cultivated in the coming years.


Stage 4 – Data Analysis


In parallel, The Audience Agency collected and harmonised a series of data provided by the NPCs.  This stage was important for bringing together information about events, participator activities, education work and audiences from across the five companies. In collating many hundreds of thousands of data points across the companies, the outcome provides an aggregate overview of activity and reach, which produces, for the first time, a significant shared data resource for the NPCs to build on.

Stage 5 – Policy Impact Narratives

Our five-stage process culminates with the development of the Policy Impact Narratives themselves. These are the particularly strong stories of collective impact that the NPCs can tell, backed up by a compelling evidence base made up of data and case studies.




Once the Policy Impact Narratives were in place, we were able to develop a series of recommendations for the NPCs centred around bolstering collective working; building the evidence base; and extending influence with wider stakeholders in policy areas outside of those traditionally associated with the creative and cultural sectors.

Policy Advocacy Tools

To make sure the NPCs have everything they need to implement the recommendations, the Culture Commons team designed five bespoke policy advocacy tools to help the companies plan for, implement and capture impacts and track progress. We also devised a proposed programme for the companies to implement over 18 months to deliver against a series of key policy and advocacy objectives.


If Culture Commons can help you or your organisations to get to grips with fast-change political and policy landscape, or support you and your teams to devise strategies to make sure you work is being recognised by policymakers, please get in touch

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