Creative Scotland issues mea culpa and promises change

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Creative Scotland is to abandon strategic commissioning, offer long-term funding to organisations and slow down the pace of change, as part of wide-ranging changes to its ways of working announced today.

The statement from the Scottish arts quango comes following widespread criticism of the funding body and the resignation of its chief executive Andrew Dixon.

According a statement issued by Creative Scotland: “Both the board and the senior management team recognise the need for substantial changes which will address the principal concerns made evident in our internal reviews, extensive external feedback, and the submissions sent to us by a range of organisations and individuals, including our own staff.”

While saying that CS has had good practice in some of its achievements, it says that has to become the norm in all areas of activity.

“We recognise that imaginative and successful initiatives have been undermined by failures in other areas.

“It is time that Creative Scotland stopped being the story. We think the best way to achieve this is to focus on making our core operation effective, and affording those we support due care and attention.”

The statement comes ahead of the release of the findings of two internal reports next Friday December 14. Many of the changes outlined in the statement are already starting to be instigated, others will become apparent over the next few weeks.

The board makes several key commitments. Crucially, these acknowledge the importance of artists, creative practitioners, cultural organisations and its own staff. It promises to put these four elements “at the heart of everything we do”.

It says that CS staff’s own specialist knowledge and expertise will be used more effectively and be made more visible to the arts world. The staff will have increased autonomy of decision-making and direct access to them will be made easier.

In a clear move away from Dixon’s agenda, the board say they will emphasise the language of “support” rather than “investment” in both their values and operations.

In terms of operation, current funding models will be reviewed. The aim will be to enable “as many organisations as possible and appropriate” to move to stable, multi-year arrangements. Project funding will be available for specific time-limited work and there will be funding to individuals which may include partnerships.

There is a commitment to ensure that lottery funding is never regarded as a substitute for government sourced grant in aid. The board is working on ways to use a mixture of both, to help the creative community thrive.

There will be regular consultative forums between artists, creative practitioners and staff to inform policy development and increase transparency. The board says it is working with the sector to design the specific nature of these forums with the aim of a first open session in early 2013.

The board adds: “Early in 2013, we will publish more detailed plans for implementing these significant changes, including anticipated timescales. This is to allow staff and the senior management team time to consider the activity and people required to deliver the commitments being made.

“The board will also begin the process of recruiting a new Chief Executive in the New Year and interim organisational arrangements are currently being put in place.”

The full statement is available via the Creative Scotland website.