Creative Scotland director Venu Dhupa stands down

Vena Dhupa will leave Creative Scotland in February 2013
Vena Dhupa will leave Creative Scotland in February 2013
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THE crisis engulfing arts agency Creative Scotland has claimed its second major scalp.

Creative director Venu Dhupa has quit, days after a damning internal report into the running of the quango was published. It revealed widespread problems due to “fractured” relationships with artists and a “gulf” between staff and senior management.

Ms Dhupa, who has resigned less than three weeks after it emerged chief executive Andrew Dixon was quitting, had come under fire from artists during a previous job with the British Council.

She was appointed one of three “directors of creative development” in 2010, with Caroline Parkinson and Iain Munro. At the time, The Scotsman reported concerns over their lack of experience for the posts, which carry a £70,000 salary.

Mr Dixon described Ms Dhupa as “an internationally renowned player with a major track record in managing and developing cultural organisations and artists”.

However, Ms Dhupa, who was born in Nairobi, Kenya, had been at the centre of a major artistic revolt when she led an overhaul of the British Council’s creative department.

She quit after less than a year as director of arts after the proposed changes came under fire from the likes of Lucian Freud, Antony Gormley, David Hockney and Anish Kapoor.

There were echoes of that row in this year’s Creative Scotland crisis, sparked in May by a shake-up in funding arrangements for dozens of organisations. Ms Dhupa was a key architect of the proposals.

The crisis was brought to a head in early October when it emerged a number of Scotland’s leading artists had written a damning letter accusing the body of “ill-conceived decision-making and a lack of empathy and regard for Scottish culture”.

The authors included composers James Macmillan and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, and playwright and artist John Byrne.

It is understood an internal report into the “operational methods” of Creative Scotland had been largely completed before Mr Dixon’s resignation was announced on 3 December, 
although it was not officially published until last Friday. Following his resignation, Creative Scotland’s board, led by former Standard Life chief executive Sir Sandy Crombie, announced plans for a wide-ranging shake-up, after admitting a series of blunders.

A statement said “many important relationships have deteriorated” in the two and a half years since Creative Scotland was formed from a merger of the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Screen.

Ms Dhupa was notable by her absence from last week’s Creative Scotland Awards in Glasgow.

But unlike Mr Dixon, who complained in his resignation statement of not being given the “respect and support of some of the more established voices in Scottish culture”, she said: “I have really enjoyed my time here.

“We have facilitated some amazing art and creative work in the last two and a half years.

“It’s the talent that makes all this possible that should be the focus going forward. Seeing social and cultural diversity as an opportunity and having the courage to look outwards will be an important element for Scotland’s success.”

Sir Sandy said: “Venu has worked hard on behalf of the 
organisation and this is very much appreciated.”

Like Mr Dixon, Ms Dhupa will be paid three months’ salary after her official finish date, at the end of February.