THE head of arts quango Creative Scotland has been forced to apologise for the all-male jury which will judge its flagship awards.
Andrew Dixon, who has faced mounting criticism over the running of the troubled agency, has admitted it was wrong to have excluded women from the panel - but insisted it was not deliberate.
But he said the awards had been hit by the late withdrawal of several judges, including women before the final shortlists had to be drawn up.
And Creative Scotland has insisted the controversial all-male panel for its flagship awards scheme will still decide who the final winners are.
The Scottish Government’s main cultural body has come under growing fire for failing to include any women on the panel which drew up the shortlist for next month’s event in Glasgow, the finale of the government backed Year of Creative Scotland.
The nominees are finally due to be revealed over the weekend after several days of controversy on social media sites about the make-up of the panel who selected them.
Mr Dixon, the quango’s chief executive, said: “We understand that the Creative Scotland Awards have not been without their controversy.
“While the judging panel does include, absolutely, a cross-section of high-level expertise in arts and culture, it does not, unfortunately, include any women.
“This was not out intention. Several judges, including women, pulled out at late stage meaning our final panel did not have the demographic profile we would have liked and we apologise for that.”
Officials at the body, which has a budget of more than £83 million, insist three women did agree to take part in the judging process but later pulled out, out of “more than a dozen” possible female judges who were initially approached to judge the awards, which will be handed out at a lavish £100-a-head bash at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum in Glasgow.
The price tag has been removed from the event website since the controversy over the judging panel erupted.
Sources close to the body admit that with the benefit of hindsight the event would not be going ahead due to the ongoing dispute with hundreds of artists who have demanded a managerial shake-up of the body.
Creative Scotland has insisted the judging panel - which includes poet Tom Pow, comedian Sanjeev Kohli and Iain Munro, a senior director at Creative Scotland - will remain in place for the final round of negotiations to pick the winners.
Creative Scotland - which has a number of female staff in senior positions - had earlier refused to apologise for the make-up of the judging panel.