Creative Scotland to delay replacing controversial former chief executive

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SCOTLAND’S troubled arts agency has signalled a cultural change by deciding not to replace its departed chief executive in the short term.

Creative Scotland is now expected to move away from the business-led approach to the arts of former head Andrew Dixon towards a more artist-friendly regime.

Dixon was at the heart of an artist-led rebellion last year against the way the government’s main arts-funding agency, which commands a budget of £83 million, was operating under his control.

But although he resigned early in December, the agency has ruled out starting the recruitment process for his replacement for several months while an internal shake-up is carried out. This will be aimed at allowing its staff to use their 
specialist knowledge of the arts better and to give artists more say in the running of the organisation.

Creative Scotland’s board of directors has insisted it does not want to “rush in” to finding a replacement for Dixon.

It is understood options being considered include scrapping the post of chief executive completely, giving the new figurehead a different title or putting an interim chief officer in charge for up to 12 months.

An agency spokesman said: “We have made a number of commitments to change. Work has begun on delivering these changes and we will be doing this in close collaboration with our staff and the arts and culture sector over the coming months.

“This is a great opportunity for all staff at Creative Scotland, artists, cultural practitioners and all of our stakeholders to contribute to a successful future for the organisation and arts and culture in Scotland.

“As we go through this process of change, we will also be considering our options regarding the leadership of Creative Scotland and the potential appointment of a new chief executive, but we intend to take as much time as required to do this.”

Dixon resigned shortly before Creative Scotland’s board was due to discuss how to deal with an artistic revolt over the running of the body and an internal report into management practices under the former chief executive’s regime. A damning report, which was not published until after Dixon had resigned, revealed widespread problems due to “fractured” relationships with artists and a “gulf” between staff and senior management.

A statement from the agency’s board, led by former Standard Life chief executive Sir Sandy Crombie, admitted “many important relationships have deteriorated” since the organisation was set up in the summer of 2010 with Dixon as chief executive.

Iain Munro, one of two creative directors left at the organisation following the resignation of a third, Venu Dhupa, just before Christmas, has been placed in temporary charge of the organisation as the senior “accountable officer.”

The spokesman said: “In the meantime, the senior management team will report directly to Sir Sandy Crombie as chair of the board, and Iain Munro, director of creative development, will take on the role of accountable officer.”