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State of the Arts: An end to fear and trembling?

Things are moving inside the crisis at Creative Scotland, the national arts funding body.

Surely and steadily.

You may remember that the board of Creative Scotland, which is led by chairman Sir Sandy Crombie, instigated two internal reviews, or inquiries, both to be led by board members.

The first is focussed on ‘operations’ at the body, and is led by journalist Ruth Wishart, and the second is focussed on the National Lottery and what can be done with it, and is led by Barclay Price.

I understand that Ms Wishart’s review is done, and indeed an interim version is now being read by the board and the executive team at Waverley Gate.

Given the ongoing furore over Creative Scotland, given extra impetus in the past week with the row over the all-male panel for their Awards, it would be nice if the report was made available to the public.

But I am not holding my breath for an imminent release. I think we may see it, or at least a summation of it, after the next Board meeting - which could be a dramatic event - on 6 December.

One of the most alarming and concerning aspects of the whole Creative Scotland story has been the outbreaks of fear and trembling and alarm felt both inside and outside the body, among the creative community and outside it.

It is a sorry situation when artists feel genuinely afraid, whether that is justified or not, of speaking out, where people are harangued by email or in person for expressing honestly held opinions, when newspapers receive anonymous letters accusing us of following some kind of malevolent agenda, where dark jokes of ‘never working in this town again’ are exchanged, where worried people ring me in tears over something they may or may have not said and how it may be perceived, and where blameless and talented staff inside Creative Scotland worry about their futures amid the tumult.

If there is no other reason to sort this whole sorry mess out - and there are plenty - removing the fear and loathing and suspicion from the discourse in the artistic and cultural community will be a very welcome result.

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