Creative Scotland: a cock and balls story

Year Of Staggering From One Crisis To The Next?

In case you missed it in yesterday’s Scotland on Sunday, here’s film critic Hannah McGill‘s thoughts on Creative Scotland’s unfathomable wunderplan to press ahead with a 7 person ALL-MALE judging panel for the 2012 Year of Creative Scotland Awards.

Creative gender gap makes artists close ranks

by Hannah McGill

I doubt I’ll ever be on Creative Scotland’s Christmas card list again, if ­indeed that unstable organisation manages to limp on that long. But the irony is, I used to be one of their defenders.

As artistic director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival, I was part of the consulting process as Scottish Screen and the Scottish Arts Council merged; and when Andrew Dixon entered his post as chief executive in 2010, he was gracious enough to make me his first meeting.

Like all in the Scottish film community, I was concerned about the disappearance of Scotland’s dedicated film agency, the lack of which would put us in a minority of one among film-producing nations. But Mr Dixon struck me as earnest, intelligent and attentive; and I saw potential in the merged body for increased cross-pollination between arts sectors that can tend ­towards silo mentalities.

As Creative Scotland sought its identity in the ensuing months, some members of those sectors were quick to criticise their every move, and I empathised as they got more embattled. Having seen some tough times with EIFF, I knew the weight of being responsible for public money (albeit a fraction of their £75 million), and the migraine of trying to please press, sponsors and awkward artists at once. Give them time, I said.

Well, they’ve had time. One of the things they’ve done with it is to plan a gala awards ceremony – the nominees were announced yesterday – at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery. Awards will go 
to achievers in numerous fields of the arts; “the event”, Creative Scotland’s website informs us, “will be ­unlike any other awards”.

Certainly it differs in one significant respect, which is that the panel of seven judges consists entirely of men. Asked to explain this decision, in the context of their avowed commitment to equality and diversity, Creative Scotland last week claimed it had approached numerous women (well, “a dozen”), none of whom could make it. Heads were scratched. Who did they ask?

If – as it emerged – judge Sanjeev Kohli had been unable to deliberate with the other judges in person and made his choices in absentia, how come not a ­single woman had even been found to phone in a vote?

It took until Friday for chief executive Andrew Dixon to issue an apology, admitting the agency was wrong to have an all-male panel and insisting it was not deliberate. However, the PR fallout is disastrous, and their lack of any real ­response – even a plea to hold fire – is a disgrace.

Some interested and indignant parties have been sending them lists of eligible females. This misses the point. We’re not some hard-to-see minority; we’re many and prominent. We shouldn’t have to help them out; hell, some of the lavishly remunerated top brass are women themselves.

All that was required was rigour and care. It happens that I don’t even think they’re mainly being sexist. I think they’re mainly being careless and arrogant. They hadn’t considered that the spirit and presentation of their £100-a-head shindig would matter to people scraping by in arts careers – nor that in the age of social media, their bluff would be called, and loudly.

In the absence of Creative Scotland ­getting it together to defend themselves, no-one on my fairly extensive radar has come up with a word in their defence. And guys, that’s when you know you might have made a bit of a mistake. Might be dignified to cop to it.

On a more positive note, it’s not easy for the arts community in a small nation with a limited pot of resources to come together for a shared cause. We might find that once a more rational system has been put in place we miss the unifying force of shared bafflement at Creative Scotland’s decisions the way that some socialists missed the clean, unambiguous loathing they could hold for Margaret Thatcher.

There is power in a union, and this has shown us that we can rally when called. Finally, I’m going to give the price of an awards ceremony ticket to Scottish ­Women’s Aid. It’s a lot less than any of the Creative Scotland execs earn in a day, but it might help someone who doesn’t get to go to a lot of black-tie events.

• Hannah McGill is the former artistic director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival

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3 replies

  1. Here’s the full list of nominees for the “Daily Record Creative Scotland Awards 2012″

    Scottish Film & TV Award

    Glasgow Film Festival – More than 35,000 tickets were sold this year, putting this fast-growing film festival firmly on the international circuit.

    The Angels’ Share – Ken Loach film starring Paul Brannigan about a young father’s journey to redemption.

    The Perfect Fit – A contender for an Oscar nomination, the story of a shoemaker who devotes his life to making the perfect ballet shoe.

    Music Award

    Admiral Fallow – Fronted by singer Louis Abbott, the album Tree Bursts In Snow has been the subject of much critical acclaim, as have their live performances across the UK and abroad.

    Frightened Rabbit – The Glasgow-based indie outfit released the EP State Hospital this year, touring the US where they’ve built a solid fanbase.

    Rachel Sermanni – Carrbridge singer-songwriter whose debut album Under Mountains was released this year after incessant touring.

    Best Visual Award

    Karla Black – Turner Prize nominee who creates large installations from a combination of traditional materials as well as others drawn from the everyday environment such as make-up and toiletries.

    Elph – Graffiti artist who has gone from bus stop-tagging in Drylaw to being exhibited in New York, Berlin and London alongside Banksy.

    Harry Papadopoulos/Street Level Gallery: What Presence! Exhibition showcasing the work of a photographer who captured seminal bands such as Aztec Camera and Josef K in their early days.

    George Wyllie – A year-long retrospective celebrating the late Inverclyde artist’s work in his 90th year.

    Theatre Award

    Dundee Rep Ensemble – Further than the Furthest Thing – Zinnie Harris’s play capturing the epic sweep of nature and exploring the consequences of people being forced to leave behind all they have known for a new life.

    Magnetic North – Pass The Spoon – Offbeat crossover theatre featuring visual artist David Shrigley, composer David Fennessy and Magnetic North artistic director Nicholas Bone. An opera, a pantomime and a cookery show.

    The Arches – Whatever Gets You Through The Night – Cora Bissett and David Greig’s celebration of goings-on between 12am-4am in Scotland, with writers, actors and musicians.

    Community Arts Award

    Elderflowers – Run by health charity Hearts and Minds, this project used performing arts to overcome issues faced by elderly people with dementia.

    Nothing About Us Without Us Is For Us – The brainchild of artists TS Beall and Matt Baker, the public art event used obsolete technology to hurl communications across the River Clyde in Govan.

    The Zombie Project – Gave kids from the Ferguslie Park area of Paisley the chance to write, direct and star in their own zombie film and comic project.

    Creativity in School Award

    Samantha MacDonald and Lesley Riddell-Robertson from Architecture + Design Scotland – Staged workshops allowing children the chance to design a creative intervention on where they come from and film it from the air.

    Kibble Education and Care Centre – Run by Gavin Sinclair, who uses drama and theatre as a vehicle for inter-subject learning. His work enables pupils to devise shows that tackle issues, subjects and themes that are appropriate for other areas of the curriculum.

    Lorna Gourley, South Ayrshire Council – A musical celebration of the Olympic Torch Relay that saw a local composer come together with local schoolkids to compose a tune for the torch’s passage through Ayrshire.

    Feis Rois – Partnership at The Bridge Centre to engage and inspire young vulnerable people through music, with traditional musicians holding weekly workshops.

    Best New Talent Award

    Alex Boyd – Photographic artist who this year exhibited a tribute to poet Edwin Morgan at Glasgow’s House for An Art Lover.

    Blair Mowat – Emerging film score composer who premiered his first full-length score, Electric Man, as part of this year’s Glasgow Film Festival.

    Paul Brannigan – Ken Loach’s new protégé who grew up amid drugs, gangs and guns in the east end of Glasgow, and who went on to critical acclaim as the star of The Angels’ Share.

    Literature Award

    Alan Bissett – Works include Boyracers, The Incredible Adam Spark, Death of a Ladies Man and Pack Men. Alan, from Falkirk, is a regular contributor to Arches poetry night Discombobulate and was also part of The Arches’ Whatever Gets You Through The Night.

    Angus Peter Campbell – Once described by Sorley MacLean as “one of the few really significant living poets in Scotland”, Aibisidh is Angus Peter’s most recent award-winning collection of poems.

    Janice Galloway – Scotland’s most celebrated writer, Janice is the author of such works as The Trick Is To Keep Breathing, Foreign Parts and two memoirs, This Is Not About Me and All Made Up.

    Ewan Morrison – Originally from Caithness, his most recent work, Close Your Eyes, deals with alternatives to modern lifestyles. He is recognised as one of the most daring voices in Scottish literature.

    Creative Business Award

    Colin Beattie/Oran Mor – Thriving multi-arts venue, which this year put on its 250th Play, Pie and Pint lunchtime theatre production.

    Denki Ltd – Dundee-based producers of more than 180 digital games, putting the city on the map as a major hub for digital entertainment and multi-media collaboration.

    Show Them Pictures – Edinburgh animation studio whose work includes pro-bono productions for charities such as the Refugee Survival Trust, for whom they made the short film Destitution.

    Arts Ambassador Award

    Patrick Doyle – Glasgow composer whose scores include Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Sense and Sensibility and Hamlet, as well as Disney/Pixar’s Brave.

    Donald Shaw – Director of the major winter arts festival Celtic Connections, the Capercaillie musician curates a line-up of broad scope and international respect.

    National Theatre of Scotland – Seminal production Black Watch continues to tour, with other offerings including The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart and Beautiful Burnout.

    Traditional Arts, Scots & Gaelic Award

    Manran – The energetic Gaelic six-piece are one of the country’s most popular traditional outfits with some success in the mainstream market, recording a charity single with pop singer Michelle McManus this year.

    The Boy and The Bunnet – A Scots and Gaelic language project which introduces children and adults to Scottish music, instruments and folk themes.

    Dannsa – Traditional dance group, which showcases stunning dancing to live musicians and Gaelic singers.

    Year of Creative Scotland Event

    Big Noise The Big Concert – Kids of Stirling’s Raploch estate learned to play instruments on a scheme based on El Sistema, which helped slum kids in Venezuela, culminating in a concert with the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela under conductor Gustavo Dudamel.

    Enchanted Forest – Magical sound and light installation in Faskally Wood near Pitlochry, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, bringing together the talents of Simon Wilkinson, RJ McConnell and Dalziel + Scullion.

    The Barrowlands Project – Created by Michael Clark whose dance company joined with 50 locals to create a dance experience, celebrating community and the arts.

  2. Imaginary picture of a stationary fear
    - Edwin Muir from The Day Before The Last Day

  3. Jenni Fagan; The Panopticon.
    It’s very contemporary, and relative in Scots society; more-so for young Scots’ women, but also for young Scots’ men.
    Or, at least put her on the all-male panel; I’m sure she’d be up for it.

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