This time last year, all was not, we can say, well in the cultural world in Scotland.
Creative Scotland, the national funding body, was in the middle of a convulsive crisis which would shortly lead to the departure of its first chief executive, Andrew Dixon. Indeed, October and November 2012 were the most turbulent months of the whole stramash.
What has changed since then, in the past 12 months? Many things, including, most notably, the arrival of a new chief executive, Janet Archer, as well as changes in funding philosophy, the first round of artist bursaries, the dumping of the ill-fated Creative Scotland Awards, arts sector reviews, and a commitment to plain language. Even a new website is on the way.
This time last year I filed a story about a letter sent to the chairman of the body, Sir Sandy Crombie, which distilled the comments of more than 100 people who attended an event at Glasgow's Tramway to discuss the crisis. It called for two artists to be placed on the board, an independent inquiry into the crisis and a three-month deadline to resolve its issues at the time. Well, none of these things happened. But change did happen anyway. Indeed, the board itself, which somewhat surprisingly (I say charitably) survived the crisis essentially unscathed.
Why rake old coals? Well, some people are already asking me whether anything has improved since the crisis broke last year. In many ways, yes, of course: a form of calm was restored earlier this year with the arrival of Ms Archer and a general sense of "let's wait and see how it goes" attitude still largely exists in the arts world. Some are warmer, and say they "like the direction of travel" the body is moving in. There has been improved dialogue. Indeed, I can say here, Creative Scotland's Open Sessions, which brought many different opinions into the debate, are going to be re-opened: three more are planned for late November - dates and venues to be announced. The proposed theme, I hear, is "where are we now?"
It will be interesting to attend these sessions and compare and contrast to the first round of these events. Especially now, as the structure of the body itself is changing, and new posts have yet to be filled. Still being advertised are a director of funding operations and a director of finance. The window to apply for the director of arts "and engagement" and director of film and media has now closed, as well as the director of strategy post. Even when these posts are filled, it will take a while for the various personalities to settle in place. There is some haziness about how it will all shake out. In particular, one wonders how the various portfolio managers (visual arts, literature, digital media, music and so on) will work with the new heads.
Perhaps the most intriguing hire will be that head of film title. Some interesting names have been mooted to me. But they are, broadly speaking, film producers or directors, and one wonders whether anyone would want to go from making movies to being a bureaucrat; although, one can imagine the prospect of regular pay would appeal to anyone working in the current fragile film economy in Scotland, an economy which remains one of the biggest single issues facing the still recovering arts funding body.
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