Theestablishment of Creative Scotland has taken another step forward with theannouncement that there is to be a new joint Board for Scottish Screen and theScottish Arts Council which will be appointed before the end of the year.

Thisfollows the Scottish Executive's announcement earlier this year that ScottishScreen and the Scottish Arts Council were to be merged into a new culturaldevelopment agency that was expected to be operational by April 2008.

Effectively,this signalled the demise of Scottish Screen, the agency with responsibilityfor all film-related activities in Scotland including scriptdevelopment, production and dispersal of Lottery funding.

Thenew joint board is the next stage in the transitional phase towards CreativeScotland, which will be established by legislation expected to appear in draftform later this year.

Themove to incorporate film into Creative Scotland alongside opera, drama,literature and all the other arts in Scotland has been met with alarmby local film-makers.

Forty-fiveleading Scottish filmmakers signed an open letter to Scottish First MinisterJack McConnell asserting that it was "essential to retain an independent filmdevelopment and production agency" within Scotland. The signatories includedproducers Gillian Berrie, Frances Higson,Andrew Macdonald, Rebecca O'Brien and Chris Young, directors Peter Mullan, Peter Capaldi, Gillies Mackinnon, Kevin Macdonald and actor Tilda Swinton.

ProducerEddie Dick is currently awaiting the outcome of talks in which the signatoriesare seeking to stress the cultural and commercial reasons for film being adistinctive art form and the possibility that specific provision can still bemade for Scottish filmmaking within the new all-embracing Creative Scotland agency.