Sunday, May 07, 2006

Scottish Arts Council goes public with its theatrical opinions

The Scottish Arts Council has always kept quiet about its internal discussions of artistic standards. In fact, for many years, you could believe it didn't consider art to be of much importance at all, so obsessed was it with the tick-box mentality of audience targets, etc.

But two things have happened to change all that. Firstly, the organisation has made a policy shift away from the audience and towards the artist - although it still sounds confused about what that means. Secondly, it has responded to pressure from aggrieved theatre companies by making public its internal assessments of their work. You can download pdf files of the SAC's reviews here.

Having scrolled through a few of them, I'm stuck by how poorly written many are. It doesn't inspire confidence in the writer when an assessment is riddled with mistakes. I know these were never intended for public consumption, but internal communications need to be literate too.

As for the assessments themeselves, there is the odd quirky opinion, but on the whole they're reasonably close to the mark. And better that the companies know how their work is being treated than the former clandestine approach.

New on Mark Fisher's Scottish Theatre Links: a review of Elizabeth Gordon Quinn, an interview with up-and-coming tenor Nicky Spence and a behind-the-scenes look at Pitlochry Festival Theatre.

Coming soon: a review of Ali Smith's The Seer and the shortlist for the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland.

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