Chief executive apologises for Chinese gaffe

Arts & Business will not be reprimanding its chief executive after he gave a speech urging an audience to "send the Chinese packing".

Colin Tweedy’s comments, which also included a reference to “the wretched Chinese”, came during A&B’s Scottish Awards ceremony in Edinburgh last Wednesday. The audience included Linda Fabiani MSP, Scottish minister for Europe, external affairs and culture, as well as a number of prominent figures from Scotland’s business and arts communities.

Tweedy has since apologised for his comments, saying that he had wanted to highlight the importance of the domestic business and arts communities working together. “I deeply regret any distress that I have caused,” he said. “I did not intend any disrespect to the Chinese people.”

A spokesman for A&B said that Tweedy would not be reprimanded and that the matter was now closed. “We regret the offence caused and have issued a full apology,” he said. “We have lots of important and vibrant ways to bring the cultural and commercial worlds together. This is an important time for the arts.”

A&B, formerly the Association for Business Sponsorship of the Arts, promotes partnerships between the two sectors throughout the UK; the charity’s income in 2005/06 was more than £8.5m. A&B Scotland, one of 12 regional offices, is a major funder of Scottish arts. Tweedy has been its chief executive since 1983 and in 2000 was awarded an OBE for his services to business and the arts.

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