HANNIBAL Lecter star Brian Cox has become the latest big name from the Scottish arts world to attack controversial quango Creative Scotland, accusing it of operating a jobs-for-the-boys culture and being “a law unto themselves”.
The veteran star of stage and screen said meaningless jobs were being created while artists were left confused over who they should speak to.
Cox also said he would happily move back to Scotland if the film industry was stronger, saying it was not competing enough with other European countries.
The star’s intervention in the debate – joining critics such as John Byrne, Alan Cumming, Janice Galloway, Karine Polwart and David Greig – will be another embarrassment for culture secretary Fiona Hyslop, as Cox is one of the main celebrity supporters of the SNP’s independence campaign.
He was particularly critical of a controversial move away from having staff specialising in particular art forms – one of the main bones of contention for critics of the agency.
Cox, one of Scotland’s most respected actors, spoke out as it was confirmed he had been appointed honorary patron of the Royal Lyceum Theatre, in Edinburgh.
Speaking exclusively to The Scotsman, Cox said of Creative Scotland: “I just see too many kinks in the pipes, which appears to be causing all the problems, and there appears to be an element of jobs for the boys.
“They create all these posts for themselves and you wonder to yourself: ‘What is it that these people actually do?’
“Having ‘portfolio managers’ to deal with artists and arts organisations is a load of b*****s. Theatre is about doing, not talking.
“You need someone there, like Richard Holloway [Scottish Arts Council chair] was in the past, to provide that pluralistic vision and you need people to give you practical advice.
“They are really there to be the conduits for artists, but they instead have become a law unto themselves.”
Cox, rector of Dundee University and patron of Scottish Youth Theatre, told The Scotsman earlier this week that he wanted to return to the stage – possibly with the National Theatre of Scotland. However, he also said he would happily work in Scotland if the film industry was stronger.
“I’d come back and live in Scotland if I could find the work. There are just not enough films being made here,” he said.
“It’s not just about making Scottish films, it’s about being much more competitive with other countries to attract films here.
“Glasgow has actually done really well to attract three or four big films in the last couple of years. Whoever is in charge of their film office should be put in charge of the whole Scottish film industry.”
Creative Scotland, the Scottish Government’s flagship arts quango, has been besieged by mounting criticism in recent months due to discontent from artists and organisations about the way funding decisions are taken, the levels of secrecy and bureaucracy in the organisation and a flawed management style.
The situation escalated into a full-blown crisis last month when 100 artists put their names to a damning letter of criticism to the body’s chairman, Sir Sandy Crombie, saying it was “damaged at the heart”.
Two internal inquiries have been set up by Sir Sandy, who also signalled a major organisational shake-up will be on the cards over the next few months.