The head of Scotland’s arts funding body is stepping down following a critical attack on the organisation.

Andrew Dixon will step down as Creative Scotland’s chief executive at the end of January, following a handover period.

The board will now begin the process of finding a new chief executive. In the interim, the senior management team will report directly to board chairman Sir Sandy Crombie.

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In a statement, Dixon said it had been a “privilege” to have worked for Creative Scotland but that a “change of direction” was needed for both him and the funding body (see below for full statement).

It follows an attack on the management and running of the organisation by 100 artists in October.

An open letter slammed the decision-making at Creative Scotland and crime author Ian Rankin, Turner prize winner Douglas Gordon and national poet Liz Lochhead were among those who put their name to it.

Crombie said: “As a new organisation with an extensive remit, there have been inevitable challenges during this period and Andrew has consistently led the organisation with energy, passion and enthusiasm.

“He has also taken every opportunity to be a vociferous champion and advocate for Scottish arts and culture.”

Dixon was appointed in February 2010 as acting Director of Creative Scotland and oversaw the merger, from May 2010, of Scottish Screen and the Scottish Arts Council.

The board of Creative Scotland will meet tomorrow (Dec 5), at which two sub-groups are due to report on the organisation’s future structure and director. Further senior staff changes are expected.

Andrew Dixon, full statement

“It has been a privilege to have been involved in the early years of Creative Scotland and to have worked with such talented and dedicated staff, but I now feel the time is right for a change of direction for both myself and the organisation.

“I am proud of what has been achieved since the merger. We have delivered new resources for the arts and established strong partnerships with local authorities, broadcasters and many other agencies. The Year of Creative Scotland, The Guide to Scotland’s Festivals, a new capital programme, the Creative Place Awards and the recent Luminate festival have shown the potential for all parts of Scotland to play a part in the creativity of the nation. I have been disappointed, given my track record, not to gain the respect and support of some of the more established voices in Scottish culture and I hope that my resignation will clear the way for a new phase of collaboration between artists and Creative Scotland.”

“I have, however, also received much support and generosity of spirit from people in the arts and culture community across Scotland. I have been grateful for the tireless support of Fiona Hyslop and many others in Government. I would also like to thank Sir Sandy Crombie and the rest of the Board who volunteer their time and expertise so willingly. The staff team at Creative Scotland is exceptional and, despite recent strains, they continue to demonstrate professionalism and a true passion for the artistic and creative life of Scotland. I wish them all the very best.”