THE two women who will oversee Scotland's cultural future were appointed yesterday as First Minister Donald Dewar approved the choice of Tessa Jackson for director of the Scottish Arts Council and named Rhona Brankin the Deputy Minister for culture and sport.

Ms Jackson, who made her reputation in Scotland, defeated a large and predominantly female field of candidates to succeed Seona Reid as SAC director. Ms Reid is leaving to become director of Glasgow School of Art.

For the past eight years, Ms Jackson has been director of the Arnolfini arts centre in Bristol, a venue that has built on a prestigious contemporary gallery to include live theatre, dance, and music as well as lectures in architecture and design. It also has a cinema and a bookshop, which has a programme of new writing.

She came to Scotland in 1982 to open the Eyemouth Museum, a community-based centre that tells the story of local fishing and agriculture and which won the museum of the year award against stiff competition from much larger facilties. For the next six years she ran Strathclyde University's Collins Gallery, introducing a successful programme of contemporary work, before being seconded to Glasgow's Year as European City of Culture team in 1990 as visual arts officer.

Her work there included overseeing the refurbishment of the McLellan Galleries and its reopening with the British Art Show, drawing a Vincent Van Gogh exhibition to the Burrell Collection, and instigating a visual art programme at the Tramway which included David Mach's vast newspaper columns, Here To Stay, and Andy Goldsworthy's season-defying snowball sculptures.

A total of 600 visual art events during the year also included 12 hand-sewn banners on Glasgow's history, two of which were sponsored by The Herald, the decoration of city cabs, and a series of international artist exchanges.

When she was lured south in 1991, the city did not continue the post, an omission that was held partially responsible for Glasgow's failure to secure City of Visual Arts in 1996.

Arts council chairman Magnus Linklater said yesterday: ''Tessa emerged as the front-runner from a very strong list of candidates, and we are delighted to have her back in Scotland at a critical time for the arts. Seona Reid was always going to be a hard act to follow, but I have no doubt that the arts will be in equally good hands under the directorship of Tessa Jackson.''

Ms Jackson said that she was looking forward to returning to Scotland's ''vibrant arts scene''.

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