This has been the Year of Creative Scotland. However, it’s been a year of trouble for the arts communities in Scotland. It has been a time where many have seen a storm gathering around the organisation, set up to be Scotland’s leading arts and culture organisation in the country.
Earlier this year, a letter, signed by more than a hundred artists and other key figures, called for a change of the organisation’s direction. And in the past few weeks, it’s also been under fire for appointing a controversial all-male panel of judges to decide on the final winners for its flagship awards scheme.
Amid the mounting criticism, its chairman, Sir Sandy Crombie, promised major changes by the end of the year. He thus acknowledged that something deep-seated with wrong with the management of Creative Scotland. Unless those fundamental problems were addressed, the organisation would be in the news for itself and not for the good work it was encouraging.
Put simply, Creative Scotland, set up with great expectations from the country’s artists, has failed to capture their hearts or minds. Artists, writers, film-makers and others have come to resent it and in particular its embattled director, Andrew Dixon. Almost from the start, he was accused of lacking the vision to run such a public body. Critics called him a bean-counter who had little understanding of Scottish culture and artistic tradition.
So it seems that the most important change will be the departure of Mr Dixon himself. In a statement released this afternoon, Creative Scotland announced that he had taken the decision to stand down from his post to make way for a new Chief Executive to lead the organisation through an important period of change.
Sir Sandy Crombie, Chair of Creative Scotland, thanked him “for his stewardship of Creative Scotland since its inception. As a new organisation with an extensive remit, there have been inevitable challenges during this period and Andrew has consistently led the organisation with energy, passion and enthusiasm. He has also taken every opportunity to be a vociferous champion and advocate for Scottish arts and culture.”
In his own statement, Andrew Dixon, said it had been “…a privilege to have been involved in the early years of Creative Scotland and to have worked with such talented and dedicated staff, but I now feel the time is right for a change of direction for both myself and the organisation.
“I am proud of what has been achieved since the merger. We have delivered new resources for the arts and established strong partnerships with local authorities, broadcasters and many other agencies. The Year of Creative Scotland, The Guide to Scotland’s Festivals, a new capital programme, the Creative Place Awards and the recent Luminate festival have shown the potential for all parts of Scotland to play a part in the creativity of the nation. I have been disappointed, given my track record, not to gain the respect and support of some of the more established voices in Scottish culture and I hope that my resignation will clear the way for a new phase of collaboration between artists and Creative Scotland.”
He added that he had also received much support and generosity of spirit from people in the arts and culture community across Scotland, most significantly from Fiona Hyslop and many others in Government.
“The staff team at Creative Scotland is exceptional and, despite recent strains, they continue to demonstrate professionalism and a true passion for the artistic and creative life of Scotland. I wish them all the very best,” he concluded
The Board will now begin the process of finding a new Chief Executive and setting up interim arrangements. In the immediate future, the Senior Management Team will report directly to Sir Sandy Crombie as Chair of the Board. Mr Andrew Dixon will leave Creative Scotland at the end of January 2013 after completing a programme of handover and transition support to the Chair and the Board.