A STRANGE thing happened in Scotland this week, one that went by virtually unnoticed by most branches of our media.

There were Amazon’s plans to axe a key distribution centre in Scotland putting hundreds of jobs at risk, in an already challenged unemployment blackspot in Gourock, Renfrewshire.

Meanwhile, on the same news service and often in the same papers, reports were ­highlighting the global transmission of The Rig, an Amazon Prime-funded drama ­produced in Scotland at a new facility in the Leith docks.

The connection between these two events is screamingly obvious, both connect back to the global behemoth ­Amazon and ­decisions taken by faceless power brokers thousands of miles away, where Scotland’s economic well-being is a distant ­afterthought.

Few if any connected the two, and tried to rationalise the losses and gains within the employment market. I say this not to offset Amazon’s responsibility to its ­workers but to demonstrate how complex the job market actually is in the era of ­globalisation.

The Rig is billed as a supernatural ­thriller about a group of North Sea ­workers who find themselves cut off from the outside world when a mysterious fog descends off the Scottish coastline.

The National: Martin Compston, Emily Hampshire and Iain Glen arriving at The Rig world premiere at Everyman Edinburgh.Martin Compston, Emily Hampshire and Iain Glen arriving at The Rig world premiere at Everyman Edinburgh. (Image: PA)

The show has already launched to ­significant success topping Prime’s ­ratings around the world. Meanwhile, as the ­filmmakers, actors, art ­department staff and the visionaries who converted a Leith complex into an impressive ­working studio understandably rejoice, 300 people in Gourock are likely to lose their jobs and face a tough looking for work or ­navigating the gig economy.

Paradoxically, both stories say ­something challenging about the ­changing nature of Scotland’s economy as we ­hurtle deeper into the scary darkness of post-industrialism.

We live in a small and remarkably ­creative nation and yet the fate of our ­talent, whether it is the creative ­industries or in technology, are in the hands of ­people who barely know we even exist.

Yes, London and the sorcerers of ­power in Westminster could do more, but in truth, we now live in a global economy and they are only a small fraction of the looming challenges.

READ MORE: Scottish NHS strike paused as unions negotiate Nicola Sturgeon pay offer

One starkly worrying problem is that Scotland’s creative industries have to work twice as hard to get half the ­attention. It is not simply a by-product of being a small nation but evidence of the restricted access our talent has had to network sources of funding, particularly in television.

There are green shoots of change and not just with the global visibility of The Rig but the fact that it launched so soon after the network premier of Synchronicity’s widely acclaimed Mayflies and Jono McLeod’s My Old School, the astonishing tale of the high-school imposter Brian MacKinnon, lip-synced by the ubiquitous Alan Cumming.

It is rare for network ­dramas to come from Scotland, for three to come at once is near unique.

Despite the intense competition for network and international commissions, Scottish-based companies are securing more work than ever before, and when it comes to film and high-end ­television, we are living through something of a ­golden age, with our acting talent in ­greater ­demand than ever before.

Competition is fierce. There are no prizes for being Scottish but equally there are no prizes for being joined to England either – the new streaming companies, Netflix, Prime and Apple are often agnostic about where talent is based or, within budget, where dramas are made.

We know that the Starz series ­Outlander is made in Scotland and much of Game Of Thrones was shot in Northern Ireland and in the historic streets and enclaves of Sarajevo. The competition is no longer just about the UK, it is global, and often impossible to predict.

When it comes to our national ­strategy for creative economic development, two factors have guided the various ­agencies that support film and television in ­Scotland – namely inward investment and indigenous growth.

READ MORE: Top musician thinks independence is key to thriving arts in Scotland

As our best companies fight at the ­coal-face, inward investment in Scotland is soaring too. Here, there is a different challenge – increasingly, the volume of ­production is rubbing up against lived ­experience.

In the centre of Glasgow, residents have become increasingly angry about their neighbourhood being transformed into a Hollywood film set and over a longer period, Edinburgh taxpayers have tired of festival extravaganzas and the hectic overcrowding that the Fringe brings every summer.

It is too early and too sporadic to ­argue that there is a backlash against the ­inconveniences of production and the balance of public opinion is still with those that can see the wider benefits. But it would also be fair to say that we have reached a point of reckoning with culture and its economic benefits.

Last week, the former SNP MSP, Joan McAlpine, a long-time advocate of greater investment in arts and cultural creativity, argued for a national strategy to exploit the global reputation of Rabbie Burns and to recognise the value that the Bard brings to the nation.

The National: Robert Burns

A recent report by Glasgow ­University put the economic value of Burns at around £200 million and indicated that there was more value yet to be realised. In one of its most enlightening findings, the report determined that cultural tourists – those attracted to Scotland to appreciate our theatre, regional festivals, and book events – spend 40% more than tourists who come for other reasons.

I’m sure that, like many Scots, I find ­myself conflicted. On one hand, value and ­impact are hugely important and we have ­public agencies who are rightly tasked with bringing economic value to ­Scotland. But there is also something compromising about ascribing economic value to ­culture and building a hierarchy of worth based on the bottom line.

Not all culture should be profitable or required to contribute to the ­national ­balance of payments. Some cultural ­production in writing, theatre and film-making should be backed precisely ­because they tackle subjects and stories that are unlikely to be profitable. Some practitioners who prefer to innovate at the cutting edge of literature, film and theatre deserve the right to do so.

As a student, I fell in love with the poetry of Robert Henryson and William Dunbar and the towering importance they had within Scotland’s medieval era.

On a good night with some fortified wine to back me up, I would even claim that Henryson is a greater poet than Burns, but you would struggle to find a collection of his works in high street ­bookshops, let alone a space within the school curriculum where his work is taught.

Our past is littered with great works that have not met the modern benchmark of visibility, let alone profitability.

READ MORE: Birthday of Robert Burns to be celebrated at Alloway museum

The immediate future is not encouraging when it comes to public support for creativity and culture. The crisis within the NHS across the UK and rising temperature in key public sectors suggest that the Scottish Government has already been forced to make tough choices.

In a shrinking economy, the arts often find themselves in an unwinnable world, desperate to fight their corner but ­morally aware that health, housing, nurseries and schools need to be protected from the ­austerity politics that so bewitch the ­ruling Conservative Party.

Creatives also face another ­dilemma which market forces and uncaring ­conservatism are hostile to, and that is work that is perceived to be “difficult” or “uncommercial”. This can make ­poetry and some forms of conceptual art ­virtually impossible to fund and estranges artists from progressing with their talents.

I’m an optimist and feel that Scotland’s culture is robustly healthy and, in many areas, world-class, but I fear that market forces and the politics of austerity have demonstrated they have the power to ­destroy that which is truly valuable.

We have to defend our culture and ­resist any threat to the arts and creativity, even in the face of the toughest of choices.