Creative Scotland leadership team lines up

THE NEW faces of Scottish arts were unveiled yesterday as Creative Scotland named the first three members of its new leadership team.

However, concerns have been raised over a lack of experience among the new directors of Scotland's economically important film industry.

The line-up included the controversial choice of Vena Dhupa, billed as an award-winning arts administrator but who quit a senior post at the British Council after her new strategic plans sparked an artists' revolt.

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Iain Munro, at present director of arts at the Scottish Arts Council, was also named one of the "directors of creative development" at the new arts quango.

The third, Caroline Parkinson is the Edinburgh-based director in Scotland and Northern Ireland for Creative and Cultural Skills. CC Skills oversees skills training for crafts, cultural heritage, design, literature, music, performing and visual arts.

The appointments were met yesterday with the first rumblings of controversy since the quango's new chief executive, Andrew Dixon, took up his job in May.

Creative Scotland is due to begin business in earnest this summer as the successor body to Scottish Screen, the film agency, and the Scottish Arts Council.

But several senior figures in the Scottish arts community yesterday privately questioned whether any of the three boasted a proven expertise in the needs of the Scottish film industry.

Ken Hay, the current chief executive of Scottish Screen, is to step aside in September 2010 after completing the "key handover of work", it was announced yesterday.

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There were also warnings that a stress on cutting across the art-forms – rather than naming specialists in particular fields – risked leading to vacuous "mumbo jumbo" and "merging everything into a soup".

The three directors are tasked with leading the "engagement with the cultural sector" and overseeing "investment and partnership in the arts, film, and creative industries".

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Their appointments were seen yesterday as reflecting Mr Dixon's concerns for regional development of creative industries in Scotland, across the arts, raising the country's international profile.

Mr Dixon, in an interview, insisted that both he and Ms Parkinson had a wide experience of the film industry. Her career included a three year spell as manager for Pact, the independent film and television producers organisation in Scotland and Ireland in the late 1990s.

His experience has included running a film festival in Hull and setting up the Northern Film and Media agency.

Countering concerns that film expertise has been squeezed out, he said Mr Hay had been offered a senior post in Creative Scotland but chose to move on.

Creative Scotland will now move to appoint portfolio managers for different art forms, including drawing on the expertise of existing staff.

"They will have a specialism such as film production or music or literature, but will also have responsibility for place or an area of Scotland and key cross-cutting projects," he said. "We have got continuity, but we have new blood."