SCOTLAND’s national poet, Liz Lochhead, says the country’s artists have ‘no faith’ in Creative Scotland.

The criticism comes three years after 100 leading artists wrote to the national arts body to express deep-seated concerns about the direction it was taking, claiming it was out of touch, and accusing it for failing to listen to the artists it was supposed to represent.

The renewed concerns come as the Sunday Herald publishes an open letter today from the paper’s theatre critic Mark Brown to Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for culture in which he savages Creative Scotland’s strategy plans for the 'jargon' it uses and refers to it as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘market obsessed’.

His comments are supported by Liz Lochhead, Scotland’s Makar, as well award-winning playwright Iain Heggie, who have both raised concerns that Creative Scotland has not regained the trust of the arts world.

Willy Maley, professor of literature at Glasgow University, told the Sunday Herald that Creative Scotland had a 'destructive effect' on the arts world and suggested it should be dismantled.

However, Creative Scotland strongly rejects the attacks, claiming that their own research demonstrates a clear turnaround since chief executive Janet Archer replaced Andrew Dixon in June 2013.

Archer’s appointment came in the wake of a letter written to Creative Scotland in 2012 in which leading artists complained of “ill-conceived decision-making; unclear language, lack of empathy and regard for Scottish culture” and “an organisation with a confused and intrusive management style married to a corporate ethos that seems designed to set artist against artist and company against company in the search for resources”.

Liz Lochhead, pictured right, said thatartists still did not have confidence in Creative Scotland to support them. “I’ve not yet met anyone who has faith in the current organisation,” said the poet and playwright.

“We need to make sure that companies are fiscally responsible and that their budgets are reasonable but a lot of the things they [Creative Scotland] are talking about are pie in the sky. Artists are very practical. We don’t deal in 10-year strategies. I don’t know of anyone who is thinking past the project that they are currently passionate about.”

Stressing that she had personal faith in Janet Archer and did not blame any one individual, Lochhead said the organisation still had a lot of work to do in ensuring that culture was something owned and celebrated by those working on the ground, an acknowledgement made by Creative Scotland in its own recently released cultural industries strategy.

“What we need in Scotland is for good art and people who have proven themselves to be trusted, and to have people in place who can properly judge the emerging talent,” she added. “There is a feeling still that this is even more of a maze than it was under the very imperfect Arts Council. It feels like a lottery.”

Award-winning playwright Iain Heggie was also highly critical of the drama department, saying: “We have civil servants doing the work of an artistic director for the whole of Scotland no less, making artistic decisions on the basis of application forms but not of art.”

However, Janet Archer, Creative Scotland chief executive, claimed the organisation’s board had committed to an “Action Plan for Change in 2012”, which had now been delivered.

“Since then, we have reorganised our staff teams around specialisms and worked very hard to address the concerns raised in 2012,” she added. “We now have simpler routes to funding comprising core multi-year funding for 118 organisations; an Open Project Fund for individuals and organisations to apply for up to two years’ funding support; a new website with clear information about funding that also promotes the work of the artists and organisations; an ethos of open consultation and listening including regular sessions around the country, regular dialogue with artists in person and through online consultation.

“Independent research among both successful and unsuccessful applicants for funding from Creative Scotland tells us that the percentage of people who feel favourably towards Creative Scotland has increased from 63 per cent in November 2012 to 91 per cent in March 2015; levels of trust in Creative Scotland have increased from 63 per cent to 75 per cent over the same period; and 72 per cent agree that our communications and guidance is “open, clear and transparent”.While there is always room for improvement, we are going in the right direction.”

Willy Maley, professor of literature at Glasgow University, said: “It may be too early to judge, but it may well be that the problems at Creative Scotland are structural, and that what was needed was not a change of personnel or approach or leadership but a radical rethink and perhaps a dismantling of the organisation itself, which appears to have had a destructive effect from the outset on the confidence of the community it purports to serve. I do hope this is merely a question of teething problems in a transitional phase.”

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, said: “Creative Scotland is working hard to increase access to and participation in cultural activity and the arts, support the development of Scotland’s rich creative talent, the growth of our creative sectors and highlight our outstanding cultural achievements.”

She also welcomed the simplified funding schemes now in place, which she had were a direct request from the sector.