As the saying goes, work hard, play hard. But have some of us forgotten how to do the play part? Are we too exhausted from work we’re just trying to recover at the end of the week? Or is it that most of us believe recreation means shopping, browsing a retail park on the weekend to get the short lasting hit of endorphins when we purchase something?
In Common Weal’s book Sorted we’re covering big topics such as Industry, Security, and Health, so why would Recreation be just as important as all those other areas in an independent Scotland? Well to a point it’s the thing that gives us happiness, spending time with your friends and family, doing things that give us joy, it lets us experience new things and gets us up and about. So Recreation deserves to have proper attention paid to it.
Yet currently there are several things stopping the people in Scotland from truly being able to make recreation and leisure a foundation of their week. In Sorted we explore how these obstacles could be removed to allow everyone the chance to be more active, relaxed, social and creative. Sorted approaches this in three sections, Sport and Outdoors, The Arts, and Travel Tourism. So here’s a taster of what to expect from the Recreation chapter in Sorted.
One of the first problems Scotland needs to tackle is the idea that we should only use our time to benefit the economy, our time doesn’t have to benefit GDP. We are a consumption led economy so that means the idea that shopping is one of our most treasured pastimes needs to be altered. Of course we will need to buy things but that doesn’t mean shopping is the backbone of our communities and towns. We don’t need to build communities around shops and retail parks. Coupled with this is the control of advertisements. Wherever you go now it’s hard not to see an ad, bus stops, sporting events, on the side of transport or huge billboards plopped in the middle of town centres. We need to control and reduce the role of marketing in our everyday lives.
Among this should be a commitment to get back our public spaces. Stop public areas and leisure buildings becoming private. If a once public area is sold off to make way for a new development of flats that’s one less space for everyone to exercise in, enjoy or be creative in. School playing fields being sold off have serious long-term effects, even a PFI school can seriously prohibit the recreational use of it outside of school hours.
A big part of recreation is sport, and this has been one of the focuses when approaching recreation in Sorted. One of the most important issues Scotland needs to address is participation. As we make clear often those countries who place highly in Olympic and worldclass sport often have average sport participation, but the opposite is true for those who have high participation in their sports programmes. We don’t want to hamper our elite sports but it would be beneficial to have some separation between community sport and elite, and a big drive to increase participation for all. This way we can stop what happens so often, which is an approach to sport that ultimately always ends up being competitive and elite sport using community sport as a farm for the best talent.
So how do we up the funding for community sport? A radical yet tried and tested way is to introduce a National Gambling Agency. Other countries have produced successful results by nationalising gambling and pouring the profits back into community sport. Although this may seem like a strange concept other advantages would be control over the harmful advertising of gambling, establishing substantial limits on betting and having the Care Service linked to profiles so any addiction patterns can be monitored and help offered if required.
Throughout Sorted there are some fundamental policy ideas that will give Scotland a real boost and one of those is a Universal Basic Income (UBI). For many receiving UBI will afford many the opportunity to incorporate recreation into their weekly routine. This is one way we can boost participation in sports and the arts, while making travel and tourism an option.
The second branch of recreation that Sorted explores is the Arts. Just as important as sport the arts helps us re-create as people and as a nation, it can define us culturally and inspire many. Sorted’s overall aim is to provide artists with the means to carry on working and expand the arts to all communities.
To ensure Scotland becomes a vibrant and supportive environment for the arts we need to focus our funding not to the arts in general but to the artists, as at the core of it this involves individuals. By switching up the governance we can start to support a whole variety of different artists and the environments they work in. So by establishing a variety of different Arts Councils coupled with Arts Business Councils we can help both the artist, for example a poet as well as an independent art gallery.
Further than that a key component of the Arts Council is to oversees the Artists Basic Income. An enhanced version of UBI which would support many artists to live a balanced life while also creating. The levels of support provided should be decided upon purely by artists among the National Arts Council.
Sorted aims to get the arts established in communities so as well as Scotland creating Regional Arts Development in every council we can go further by creating a culture centre in every town. Be this a town hall or disused space such as a shop, these places can run classes such as pottery or sewing, they can showcase art, book clubs can be based from them or local bands and musicians could practice. The goal is to make creativity a staple of every day life.
The last but important part of Sorted’s plan for Recreation is Travel and Tourism. How do we get Scots being tourists in their own country and taking advantage of all that Scotland has to offer. Getting people into the habit of taking day trips would require Development councils putting together tourism offers in their area to attract people and showcase what their area has to offer. Affordable packages all year long that don’t leave Scotland’s hotels at low capacity in quiet months. Taking advantage of Scotland’s rural land by exploring “hutting”, cabins scattered all over that allow Scots to access areas they’ve never seen before, these could also be great business ventures for farmers.
That is just a taste of what Sorted can offer in terms of better recreation in Scotland. There are so many more policy ideas that Sorted explores, from apps that we should develop, to better arts curriculum in schools, to a National Festival site. Although we treat recreation as a second thought we should be making it one of our top priorities, purchase a copy of Sorted HERE to see how an independent Scotland could achieve this.