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Pathfinder Programme

Cultural pathfinder programme

In 2006-07 and 2007-08 the Scottish Government supported 13 projects, run by local authorities, to explore effective and practical ways to widen access to, and participation, in cultural activity. (This has clear links to a Scottish Government manifesto commitment to secure access to, and participation in, cultural activities being as wide as possible. The Scottish Government will promote this by ensuring that local authorities include cultural activities within the community planning process.)

The Pathfinder projects reached out to groups who had previously faced barriers to cultural participation, such as older people, vulnerable communities, rural dwellers, children & young people and minority ethnic communities. They also sought to interest strategic planners and other services in working with culture to deliver their objectives. The Programme aimed to produce learning that could be shared across the local authority, Community Planning Partnership (CPP) and culture sectors to inform future planning and delivery.

The Scottish Government provided just over £660,000 over 2 years (2006/07 and 2007/08) to the Programme; local councils and their partners also made a significant contribution in cash and in kind.

The Programme provides a useful legacy for Creative Scotland and will inform its work to:

  • promote understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the arts and culture
  • encourage as many people as possible to access and participate in the arts and culture
  • encourage and support artistic and other creative endeavours which contribute to an understanding of Scotland's national culture.

Programme evaluation and case studies

Scottish Government commissioned an independent evaluation of the Pathfinder programme from EKOS Ltd, and their report, including case studies for each of the Pathfinder projects, was published in July 2009, with an associated Research Findings paper, 2/2009.

In addition, Scottish Government research colleagues have prepared a document setting out Lessons Learned from the evaluation of the Pathfinder Programme. This document contains a summary of the learning points and lessons learned from the evaluation. Its purpose is to share these findings so that they may influence future practice. The lessons are not unique to the Cultural Pathfinder Programme, but are generic to using the arts and culture as a means of community consultation and engagement, with the potential of integrating and 'mainstreaming' culture into the realm of Community Planning, and should be of interest to all local authorities and cultural organisations working with local communities in their area.

The projects are:

Aberdeen City & Aberdeenshire Councils

The Highland Council

Clackmannanshire Council

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar

Dumfries & Galloway Council

Perth & Kinross Council

Dundee City Council

Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire & Inverclyde Councils

City of Edinburgh Council

Scottish Adult Learning Partnership

Fife Council

South Ayrshire Council

Glasgow City Council



Evaluation of the Cultural Pathfinders

Extracting maximum learning and knowledge from the pathfinders will be crucial, and all hosts were committed to gathering and disseminating information. The Scottish Government provided an Evaluation Toolkit and framework for use by all pathfinder hosts, complemented by innovative approaches that some intended to develop themselves. This Toolkit is being updated in light of the consultants' evaluation report. A link to the Toolkit will be added later: meanwhile, for anyone interested, information about the process used can be provided on demand. There will be ongoing monitoring and feedback from the projects at pre-agreed stages.

The Cultural Pathfinders also learned from each others' progress through the Pathfinder Learning Collaborative.