Statement from Sir Sandy Crombie (22/10/2012)
I promised that I would provide an update, following today’s Board meeting, in response to the recent, serious concerns that have been raised about Creative Scotland.
It’s important that we acknowledge a lot of these concerns are valid and we welcome the chance to air the issues through honest and open dialogue with organisations, representative agencies and individuals.
Indeed that process is already well underway. In addition to the current series of meetings between Creative Scotland and various representative groups, one of our two board sub groups is in the process of meeting a wide range of people internally and externally to look at operational and structural issues.
The second is examining issues around our use of lottery funding to ensure maximum flexibility and stability in the future. I should emphasise that their work is intended to underpin our core commitment to nourish a vibrant cultural sector and that we will continue to press for the necessary funds from all sources to promote its health and stability. Both groups will report by the next board meeting on December 6th.
We are committed to making the experience of dealing with Creative Scotland a more collaborative and positive one, and the following subjects were discussed at today’s board meeting.
1. The role of specialist knowledge.
We will look again at our structure to ensure appropriate prominence is given to art form specialism and to ensure specialist knowledge is used effectively in our decision-making processes. We will also be looking at whether our staff members have sufficient time to spend in constructive dialogue with people in their sector in order to maintain their skills and knowledge levels.
2. Simplifying the language, processes and forms we use.
While some work has been done to review and re-write our materials to increase clarity, simplicity and understanding, we very much welcome the offer of assistance from representatives of the sectors and potential applicants. It is our intention to have this process complete by the end of March 2013 for use in the next financial year.
We want to create an environment where applying for support, or dealing with Creative Scotland at any level, is as straightforward and positive an experience as possible, enabling artists, practitioners and cultural organisations to concentrate on their work and for us to concentrate on supporting them.
3. Re-affirming our commitment to long term funding.
We continue to be committed to giving high-performing cultural organisations the resources and confidence to plan over the longer term, but now see that this commitment could have been more clearly expressed in recent months.
We have already confirmed a commitment to 66 organisations for 3 years. Earlier this year we invited a further 49 to apply for support for up to 2 years and the first tranche of these awards has recently been announced.
Creative Scotland’s funding comes with various requirements, limitations and expectations from the Government and Lottery because these are public funds. However, we aim be more flexible and limit burdens and bureaucracy being imposed on our applicants whilst remaining fully accountable.
We re-affirm our determination to ensure the maximum possible support from all sources to bring stability and sustainability to those we fund.
4. Debate and dialogue.
It’s vital that artists and organisations feel able and comfortable to engage with us in debate and dialogue. We meet them regularly, but have clearly not appreciated the level of their concerns. We need to create open and accessible channels for a continuing dialogue and we have started discussions with all sectors as to how we might set up consultative forums in the most appropriate ways.
There should be no lack of opportunity, no real or perceived barriers, for people to provide feedback and input ideas and suggestions; and no lack of opportunity for us to absorb these.
Recent events have made us accept that we need to have a more open and trusting relationship with the artists and companies producing so much excellent work. Given the complexity of Scotland’s cultural scene, there are bound to be differing views on the balance to be struck in nurturing Scotland’s artists while ensuring that we extend cultural engagement more widely. It is therefore essential that there are avenues for all views to be listened to and debated.
5. Registering and reviewing feedback and complaints
The Board has been surprised by the strength of feeling expressed over recent months. We will look at how Board members can learn about issues much earlier. We will also review how feedback and complaints received by staff are logged, dealt with and subsequently reported to the Board.
All of us involved at Creative Scotland are determined to do our jobs in an optimum way to allow those involved in the arts and cultural sector to perform at their creative best. Sometimes it is uncomfortable to hear what people say, but it is always helpful.
We have made a start to dealing with the problems you have flagged up. We have devised a robust review programme now well under way. Plans for regular and meaningful consultation are being drawn up.
Further announcements will be made in due course about the details of these and other changes and you will hear more from me after the Board meeting on 6th December.
Sir Sandy Crombie
Chair, Creative Scotland