Under-fire arts quango agrees to face its critics in a public debate

Creative Scotland has agreed to host an open debate for aggrieved artists – after the Scottish Government told it to be more open and responsive to their concerns.

Days after it emerged culture minister Fiona Hyslop had intervened over mounting criticism of the flagship body, it has responded by announcing plans for an “open session” at its headquarters in Edinburgh. Next month’s summit, instigated by playwright Jen McGregor, is to be held in the wake of a growing rebellion over the running of Creative Scotland and how its grants are allocated.

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In a lengthy blog, the agency’s head of communications, Kenneth Fowler, admitted that its relationship with the arts sector “has not been as positive or constructive as it should be.” He said Creative Scotland would take part in, but not run the event.

He added: “There has been a lot of commentary on-and off-line over the past couple of months on Creative Scotland regarding the way we work, our relationship with the arts sector and our broader strategic direction. What I have invariably found, however, is that when I sit down with people and discuss their concerns face to face, two things happen; firstly, the precise nature of those concerns becomes much more tangible, defined and consequently easier to address, while, secondly, the demoralising language of conflict disappears and we tend to find a great deal of shared ambition and optimism for the future.”

In a letter to Creative Scotland’s chairman Sir Sandy Crombie, made public earlier this week, Ms Hyslop said: “We both know it is crucial that Creative Scotland is seen to be knowledgeable about, listening and responsive to the concerns of the creative sector.”