After months of speculation, Janet Archer has been announced as the new chief executive of Creative Scotland. Currently the dance director for the Arts Council England (ACE), Archer also chairs the artist-led organisation The Work Room, based at the Tramway in Glasgow. At ACE she was involved in developing the ten-year framework, Achieving Great Art for Everyone, and in her previous job as chief executive and artistic director of Dance City, Archer managed the £7.6m capital development of the Newcastle-based National Dance Agency.
The former dancer and choreographer is something of a surprise choice for the controversial position. Last December her predecessor, Andrew Dixon, resigned in the wake of a damning open letter from the arts community that raised concerns about Creative Scotland’s ‘confused and intrusive management style’ and lack of trust between ‘those who make art and those who fund it’.
Although an internal review was carried out within the troubled quango, which has an annual budget of £83m, Archer will have a lot of bridge-building to do when she takes up her position on 1 July. One of her main challenges will be to address the removal and/or changes to various funding programmes. This was the issue which sparked the initial protests last year and while Creative Scotland has indicated it intends to put in place more secure funding arrangements, this matter has still to be satisfactorily resolved.
In a statement, Archer said: ‘I am thrilled at the chance to take on this important role for the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland. The passion and intelligence emerging out of recent debate has reinforced the vital role that Creative Scotland has to play as a partner and facilitator. These conversations are evidence of a genuine dynamic at work in the country, and a real desire to make the best use of the fantastic resources of intellectual and human capital available to us.
‘I’m simply delighted to have the opportunity to contribute towards Scotland’s creative future and look forward to working with people everywhere to unlock talent, drive opportunity, and grow artistic and cultural capital for this amazingly ambitious nation.’
There were over 100 applicants for the position of chief executive, which comes with a six-figure salary. Welcoming Archer’s appointment, chair of Creative Scotland Sir Sandy Crombie, said: ‘The board was impressed with her policymaking and partnership skills and knowledge across the whole field of the wider arts, screen and creative industries.’
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