After months of controversy, an artistic rebellion and the loss of its chief executive, Creative Scotland put the nation’s artistic stars, rising performers and unsung heroes in the spotlight last night.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum played host to the gala event less than a fortnight after the surprise resignation of chief executive Andrew Dixon and ahead of further expected departures in the next few weeks.
A month after claiming two major Bafta Scotland honours, whisky caper The Angels’ Share repeated the trick at the arts agency’s controversial ceremony, with actor Paul Brannigan claiming the “new talent” prize.
The film, directed by Ken Loach and which saw screenwriter Paul Laverty honoured at the Baftas, won in the film and TV category.
Elsewhere, it was a strong night for Scotland’s musical stars, with the Big Noise classical music concert in Stirling – the opening event of the UK’s major cultural programme and a showcase for music charity Sistema Scotland – being judged the best event throughout the Year of Creative Scotland, the multi- million-pound Scottish Government initiative which has been largely overshadowed by the quango’s troubles.
Manran, the Gaelic group, scooped the traditional arts, Scots and Gaelic award.
They were among the performers at last night’s event, along with violinist Nicola Benedetti, Lorne MacDougall, a piper who played on the soundtrack of the Pixar film Brave, comic Fred MacAulay and aerial dancers All Or Nothing.
Folk-pop favourites Admiral Fallow, who won backing from the agency to help them play in the United States, won the music award ahead of Frightened Rabbit and singer-songwriter Rachel Sermanni.
Another project Sermanni was involved in did claim an honour, with Whatever Gets You Through The Night, a project which saw musicians and bands create work inspired by the midnight to 4am period.
It took the form of a book, film and album, but won the theatre award, ahead of the Dundee Rep ensemble and Edinburgh’s Magnetic North Theatre Company.
The project, also funded by Creative Scotland, was created for the Arches in Glasgow by the actress, theatre director and musician Cora Bissett, along with the band Swimmer One and the playwright David Greig, one of the harshest critics of the agency in recent months.
Another arch-critic, author Janice Galloway, won the literature award just months after claiming the Scottish Book of the Year Prize, an honour which triggered a spat with Creative Scotland after it asked her to change critical comments in the official announcement.
Vicky Featherstone, the outgoing artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland, was honoured as a “Scottish arts ambassador” just days after her official farewell from the company, along with award-winning director John Tiffany. The other big theatre winner was Oran Mor, the former church building on Byres Road in Glasgow which has made a huge success out of its celebrated “play, pie and a pint” events.
The late Glasgow-born artist George Wyllie, who died in May, was honoured in the visual arts category after his exhibition at the Mitchell Library in the city drew thousands. Part of the event was funded by Creative Scotland.
There was little of the mention of Creative Scotland’s troubles at the event, which Mr Dixon did not attend.
However in a brief acceptance speech, Vicky Featherstone said Scotland’s artists had brought about a turning point with Creative Scotland.
She added: “I leave with fingers crossed that things will change.”
There was controversy at the awards when Rebecca O’Brien, producer of The Angels’ Share, mounted an attack on tourism agency VisitScotland for failing to throw its weight behind the film.
It has spent £7m on a worldwide marketing campaign on the back of Brave, but has shunned The Angels’ Share, despite it winning a clutch of awards.
Ms O’Brien said: “I’ve emailed and phoned VisitScotland a number of times to ask for help to promote the film and not even had a reply.
“Perhaps this award might mean I will get a phone call back.”
Brannigan said later: “It’s disappointing they’ve not got behind the film properly. That is the real Scotland on screen.
“How can the film win the jury prize at Cannes and they don’t want to know about us? They should be doing all they can to support the Scottish film industry.”
Meanwhile culture secretary Fiona Hyslop hinted the event, which Creative Scotland ploughed £30,000 into, would be an annual fixture, saying: “It is important that we have these awards to celebrate and promote Scotland’s artists.”
CREATIVITY IN SCHOOLS AWARD
NEW TALENT AWARD
CREATIVE BUSINESS AWARD
TRADITIONAL ARTS, SCOTS AND GAELIC AWARD
The Arches - for Whatever Gets You Through the Night
COMMUNITY ARTS AWARD
The Zombie Project, Renfrewshire Arts and Museums:
SCOTTISH ARTS AMBASSADOR AWARD
John Tiffany and Vicky Featherstone, National Theatre of Scotland.
YEAR OF CREATIVE SCOTLAND EVENT
Big Noise Concert, Raploch