Creative Scotland facing shake-up following artists’ rebellion
A MAJOR shake-up in the running of Scotland’s under-fire arts quango was signalled tonight - two weeks after a rebellion by leading artists plunged the organisation into a major crisis.
• Sir Sandy Crombie, Chair of Creative Scotland, has said that the entire structure of the body will be examined in the coming months and admitted failings
• A number of leading artists criticised the quango’s senior management and relationships with artists
• Creative Scotland ordered to address mounting concerns of artists and cultural organisations
• Further details of the shake-up are set to be revealed in December
The chair of Creative Scotland, Sir Sandy Crombie, has pledged the entire structure of the troubled body will be examined over the next few months following criticism of its senior management and relationships with artists.
The move comes in response to demands from artists and organisations for the “unpicking” of the Scottish Government’s flagship arts body, just two years after it got off the ground.
However, despite speculation that the position of key figures within the agency is under threat, there was no news on any departures, although further details of the shake-up are expected to emerge in December.
Creative Scotland had been attacked for its “ill-conceived decision-making and a lack of empathy and regard for Scottish culture” in the letter, signed by James Macmillan and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, playwright and artist John Byrne, film-maker Andrew Gibb, actor Tam Dean Burn, and singer Karine Polwart.
Much of the criticism over “a confused and intrusive management style” are said to be focus on the agency having a string of “portfolio managers” dealing with multiple art forms, rather than specialisms, as had been the case with the former Scottish Arts Council.
Sir Sandy, who had come under fierce criticism over his initial response to a letter which has signed now by more than 400 artists, admitted “a lot of these concerns are valid” as he outlined plans to overhaul decision-making processes.
Creative Scotland had been ordered by culture secretary Fiona Hyslop to address the mounting concerns of artists and cultural organisations after Sir Sandy was accused of using “emollient” and “patrician” language to tackle the complaints. She revealed she was taking the concerns “very seriously.”
Speaking following a meeting of the agency’s board, the first since the artists’ letter was revealed, he pledged Creative Scotland would re-affirm the principle of long-term funding - which many critics fear has been under threat.
The review will ensure “appropriate prominence” is given to art-form specialism, while he has promised the agency will aim to be “more flexible and limit burdens and bureaucracy” which he admitted was being imposed on applicants.
There was also an admission from Sir Sandy, former chief executive of Standard Life, that the body had “clearly” failed to appreciate the concerns of the cultural sector, despite regular meetings.
Sir Sandy said: “There should be no lack of opportunity, no real or perceived barriers, for people to provide feedback and input ideas and suggestions; and no lack of opportunity for us to absorb these.
“Recent events have made us accept we need to have a more open and trusting relationship with artists and companies producing so much excellent work.
“The board has been surprised by the strength of feeling expressed over recent months. We will look at how members can learn about issues much earlier. We will also review how feedback and complaints received by staff are logged, dealt with and subsequently reported to the board.”
Edinburgh playwright David Greig, who has been one of the key figures campaigning over the running of Creative Scotland, said: “Trust won’t return overnight, it’s going to need to grow through improved actual encounters between Creative Scotland and the sector over time.
“But I do take from this a real sense the board’s getting to grips with the issue.”
Sir Sandy and Creative Scotland’s chief executive Andrew Dixon have insisted they have no intention of stepping down in the wake of the furore.
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Monday 20 May 2013
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