'We want Scotland to be a place where the arts, screen and creative industries are valued and recognised; where artists and creative people are flourishing and thriving."
There is no shortage of vision and enthusiasm in Creative Scotland's new 10-year plan, which should reassure the organisation's erstwhile critics. Eighteen months ago, many artists saw Creative Scotland as an unreachable bureaucracy that had lost sight of its responsibility to artists. A revamped and humbled Creative Scotland today seeks to show how much it has changed.
The body emphasises its position as funder for the arts in Scotland but also, crucially, asserts its role as the champion of creative people. At the same time, it brings forward simplified funding arrangements, with a pot worth £90 million to support arts companies for three years. What artists want is a responsive funding body that can given them stability and this new plan is designed to deliver that.
Chief executive Janet Archer will be judged on the new plan. She was brought in last summer after Creative Scotland lost the confidence of many artists under the leadership of former chief executive Andrew Dixon. The body was disliked for its corporate ethos, use of business language and removal of key funding packages. In October 2012, more than 100 leading artists launched an attack on the funding body, saying it was "damaged at the heart" and lacked "empathy and regard for Scottish culture". They called for Creative Scotland to "affirm the value of stable two to three-year funding for small arts organisations". On her arrival nine months later, Ms Archer talked of Creative Scotland as a servant of artists and the public, and signalled her intention to spend a long time listening and learning. She appears to have done so; the document is certainly full of high-minded sentiment, though how it will work in practice when hundreds of companies apply for funding is the great unknowable. Some companies may lose out (someone always does) and overall arts funding has fallen slightly, though the Scottish arts community has avoided the deep cuts inflicted south of the Border.
This new 10-year plan will be judged a success if Creative Scotland fades from the headlines. Functioning well, it should be uncontroversial, a partner and champion of the arts community, not its self-regarding parent. The organisation is still evolving: Ms Archer has appointed new members of staff and the chairman, Sir Sandy Crombie, has announced he is stepping down. The process of change is ongoing.
Some may question the merit of having a 10-year plan, though at least the body cannot be said to be too short term in its outlook. It is hard to predict the sector's priorities so far into the future, especially given the potential constitutional upheavals, but the plan is at least designed to be equally applicable whether or not Scots vote for independence.
What the arts community needs now is trust in its principal funder and stability. This plan shows that Creative Scotland has taken this responsibility to heart.
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