Creative Scotland has announced that Janet Archer has stepped down as Chief Executive of the arts funding body after five years in the role. In its announcement on 17 July, the funding body said Archer had left her post on 30 June 2018.
Archer’s resignation comes hot on the heels of an admonishment in June from the Scottish Government’s culture committee, which stated that MSPs were ‘very concerned’ by a number of strategic mistakes that have undermined the Scottish arts sector’s confidence in Creative Scotland’s decision making process.
In February, Creative Scotland’s controversial decision to cut several organisations including Transmission Gallery and NVA from its RFO portfolio resulted in an open letter to culture secretary Fiona Hislop criticising Creative Scotland’s handling of arts funding in Scotland.
The letter, which received 1,135 signatures, also called on the Scottish Government to ensure that artists be given a greater say in Creative Scotland funding decisions – in particular the request for representations from a newly formed artist-led National Arts Forum to be heard.
Expressing criticism of Creative Scotland’s handling of the recent RFO announcements, which also saw several organisations dropped and then reinstated, the letter stated:
‘The lack of clarity in decision-making, inconsistencies across all art forms in the rationales given for support or denial of support, and the poor level of communication – particularly with unsuccessful applicants – has resulted in deep misgivings amongst us around Creative Scotland’s role and strategic direction in supporting the arts within our country.’
This is not the first time that there has been uproar surrounding Creative Scotland. Archer joined the arts funding body in June 2013, following the resignation of embattled CEO Andrew Dixon earlier that year after an outcry from over 100 artists surrounding the ‘ongoing crisis at Creative Scotland’ and a grilling from MSPs about the body’s failure to communicate properly with the Scottish arts community.
Speaking about her decision to step down, Archer said: “Over the past five years, we have supported artistic excellence, and equalities, diversity and inclusion. We accelerated our work for young people and supported creative projects in all of Scotland’s 32 local authority areas. We have also enhanced international support across artforms, especially for screen.”
“I’m pleased that in a difficult public financial context, Creative Scotland managed to work closely with the Scottish Government to secure an additional £19.8m funding for 2018-21 for Regularly Funded Organisations to replace the unexpected steep downturn in National Lottery Funding, as well as an additional £10m annual support for Screen.”
Robert Wilson, Chair of Creative Scotland said: “On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Janet for everything she has achieved over the past five years and the important contribution she has made to Creative Scotland, to the arts, screen and creative industries and to public life in Scotland more broadly. We wish her every success for the future.”
Archer will receive payment in lieu of her six-month contractual notice period, having left on 30 June 2018.