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Arts body faces fresh demands

THE row over the nation's crisis-hit arts funding body is expected to escalate after a new set of demands from more than 100 artists.

Sir Sandy Crombie, chairman of Creative Scotland, has been sent a letter outlining a way forward for the embattled body which would see artists placed at the heart of decision making.

It calls for two artists to be placed on to the board, an independent inquiry into the body's crisis and a three-month deadline to resolve current issues.

The demands were written after a meeting at Glasgow's Tramway, addressed by some of Scotland's leading artists including writer Janice Galloway, the visual artist Jacqueline Donachie and playwright David Greig.

The body, which distributes £80 million in Government and National Lottery funds to artists and arts organisations, has been under fire for months for funding decisions and strategies.

The dispute reached a head last month with a public letter now signed by more than 400 artists.

The new letter comes after the organisers of the Tramway meeting, held last week, distilled all the comments and suggestions made by more than 100 people who attended the event.

The artists want to be involved in decision making "from board to funding" and for Creative Scotland, which has begun steps to improve how it works with artists, to "communicate in a normal, human being kind of way".

They want "an end to censorship, whether in open dialogue that is taking place or in funding agreements", and for "artform expertise to brought into the centre of the organisation".

They also call for the body to become a forum of debate, and not the focus, with the ultimate aim to create an arts funding system with "trust at its heart".

A key complaint among artists is the move from fixed-term funding to a project-based approach.

The letter also stated Fiona Hyslop, the Culture Secretary, should "revisit the job descriptions of the chief executive and chairman of Creative Scotland".

Andrew Dixon, the chief executive of Creative Scotland, attended. He earlier admitted there had been issues over transparency at the body but said the it had been doing "a brilliant number of things".

A spokesman for Creative Scotland said: "We really welcome the feedback from the Tramway event which we felt was both positive and constructive.

"Some of the action points raised are being addressed through the work we are doing, led by the board sub-groups, and in collaboration with other sector groups such as FST, Literature Forum and others.

"The event has also raised lots of additional ideas and points for action which we also welcome and will act upon as appropriate, working with artists and the broader sector. We are committed to working collaboratively with the arts and culture sector."

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