Francis McKee, who served as director of the Center for Contemporary Arts (CCA) for 18 years, will step down at the end of the year.
Mr KcKee is credited with transforming the organization into a “dynamic and distinctive” institution within the Scottish arts scene, raising CCA’s profile on the international stage and helping to advance the careers of world-renowned artists such as David Shrigley.
In response to the building’s expansion in 2001, he introduced a citizen-led, open-source approach to exhibitions, encouraging artists and organizations to present their own programs.
Mr. McKee will shift his focus to research, writing and teaching.
His departure comes after a difficult period for the venue, which culminated in the loss of the Saramago bar and restaurant, which operated independently from the CCA.
A dispute over pay and working conditions led to the venue closing permanently in April.
The dispute resulted in three employees being fired mid-shift. However, the owners claim the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) union “misrepresented” the situation.
Owners Christopher Paul Smith and Claire Butler claimed the action had no support from the majority of workers.
The CCA said it made the difficult decision to end its relationship with the cafe, bar and venue, saying the impact of the longstanding feud on its artists, partners and staff has “become unsustainable”.
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A spokeswoman for the venue said a replacement for Mr McKee has not yet been appointed.
The CCA was established on Sauchiehall Street in 1991.
Three years later, the venue hosted “New Art in Scotland” by Turner Prize winners Douglas Gordon, Jane Lee and Nicola White. Among the key emerging artists featured in the exhibition was David Shrigley, known for his satirical sketches and who designed Partick Thistle’s mascot, Kingsley.
The CCA replaced the Third Eye Centre, which opened in 1974.
Allen Ginsberg, Whoopi Goldberg, John Byrne, Billy Connolly, Edwin Morgan and Kathy Acker all performed at the centre, which the Guardian has described as a “sanctuary of the avant-garde”.
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A CCA spokeswoman said, “CCA is immensely grateful to Francis McKee for his years of leadership, vision and unwavering belief in the organization.”
“McKee’s departure coincides with a moment of transformation in the arts, and we are eager to draw on the wealth of decisions and ideas that have been brought forward during her tenure.
“It is a significant achievement to leave the institution in such a strong position, and we intend to continue our work on overhauling the structure and purpose of our organization as we enter this upcoming phase.”
“The CCA looks forward to building on the initiatives McKee launched and embracing the spirit and ideals he instilled in the institution.”