Arts & Business Scotland strengthens leadership team with four new Trustees


Independent charity Arts & Business Scotland has appointed four new Trustees to its management board, bringing expertise from senior roles at BBC Scotland and the Scottish Government alongside the fields of arts management and consultancy. Alex Dobbie, Paul Smart, Yolanda Aguilar, and Graeme Davies have joined Arts & Business Scotland at an important time as the organisation seeks to further strengthen its role as a conduit between Scotland’s cultural and business sectors.

Chaired by Diana Murray, Arts & Business Scotland is an independent Scottish charity that helps to nurture creative, social and commercial relationships in an effort to enrich creativity and cultural engagement across Scotland. 2018 is a pivotal year for the organisation as it marks one year since the launch of the Culture & Business Fund Scotland, which provides match funding for business sponsorship of cultural projects. Meanwhile, a special conference taking place in Edinburgh last month marked the culmination of Arts & Business Scotland’s Resourcing Scotland’s Heritage programme, which has successfully delivered training on governance and fundraising to heritage organisations throughout Scotland over the past four years..

Arts & Business Scotland’s new Trustees will be focused on strengthening ties between Scotland’s business and cultural sectors, a particularly critical goal at a time of ongoing uncertainty around the future of public sector funding for heritage and the arts.

Alex Dobbie is Head of HR at BBC Scotland and brings with him extensive board-level experience across a broad spectrum of industries.

Mr Dobbie remarked:

“I’m delighted to be joining the board of Arts & Business Scotland.  It is a tremendously exciting time for all of us involved across our various sectors and I am looking forward to working with all of our partners and stakeholders to forge ahead and take advantage of the opportunities that lie before us, whilst also working together in solidarity to address some of the challenges that remain.”

“At a personal level I am incredibly passionate about supporting the industry in Scotland, both through my role at BBC Scotland and beyond and upon hearing that Arts & Business Scotland were seeking to add some additional voices to their team I jumped at the opportunity.”

Dr Paul Smart has held various senior positions within the Scottish administration and is currently Head of Colleges, Young Workforce & SFC Sponsorship Division at the Scottish Government. An expert on heritage matters, Dr Smart has held senior positions at Historic Environment Scotland, Scottish Civic Trust, Scottish Homes, and the Scottish Department of Development (Railways), among others.

Dr Smart commented:

“I am very pleased to be given the chance to help guide the path-breaking work A&BS at such an exciting time for Scotland’s creative arts and heritage.”

“I am particularly keen to support the organisation’s commitment to widening access to the country’s rich and diverse visual and performing arts through supporting community-based business/arts partnerships.”

Yolanda Aguilar is an experienced cultural manager who has a background as a professional performer and tutor in the performing arts. Ms Aguilar is currently Director of Operations at dance company Shaper/Caper, and has experience working with local authorities and arts centres throughout Scotland.

Ms Aguilar remarked:

“I am thrilled to be part of Arts and Business Scotland’s Board of Trustees. The organisation holds a unique place in the Scottish professional landscape and I am looking forward to contributing to its development and growth in the forthcoming years, alongside a fantastic team of directors and staff”.

Graeme Davies is a marketing expert who is currently Director of Marketing for Scottish technology company Clearwater Controls’ DERAGGER+ wastewater system. He comes from a consultancy background and has helped managed the Edinburgh International Film Festival and the Filmhouse cinema group as part of this work.

Mr Davies remarked:

“Having spent much of my career working on creative partnerships from various perspectives, rights holder, sponsor and consultant, I am delighted to be joining the Board of Arts & Business Scotland.”

“I look forward to working with the A&BS Board and management team to continue the work they do in encouraging corporations, brands and cultural organisations to form collaborative, creative partnerships that deliver real commercial value to all parties.”

Commenting on the appointment of the four new board trustees, Arts & Business Scotland Chief Executive David Watt said:

“We are delighted to welcome four new trustees to Arts & Business Scotland. Their appointments come at an exciting time for our organisation, with the Culture & Business Fund Scotland supporting some of Scotland’s most exciting and innovative arts and heritage projects.

Membership to Arts & Business Scotland is increasing with the need and demand for arts and heritage organisations to develop skills and confidence in securing funding from other entrepreneurial sources. This could be anything from forming private sector creative partnerships to empowering the public through crowdfunding techniques.”

Mr Watt added:

“Our core mandate is to facilitate mutually-beneficial working relationships between business and the cultural sector in order for Scotland’s arts and heritage sectors to thrive. The leadership and expertise that our new trustees bring to Arts & Business Scotland will be pivotal in helping us to continue our progress towards achieving that goal.

On behalf of Arts & Business Scotland, we welcome our four new board members and look forward to working together to further enrich creativity and cultural engagement across Scotland in the months ahead, and empowering the public through donation, membership, crowdfunding and other innovative fundraising engagement.”


The dangers of a scunnered electorate


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Alex Bruce, Director

There’s a great Scottish adjective that is a handy description of how Scots currently feel about the general state of British politics. They are, to use the vernacular, “scunnered” – that is, completely fed up.


Published this week, the results of the Hansard Society’s 15th annual Audit of Political Engagement, confirm this: Just 14% of Scots are broadly satisfied with the British political system compared to a UK-wide average of 29%.

Meanwhile, recent polling shows little evidence that the Scottish population’s dissatisfaction with British politics has translated into a new found enthusiasm for independence.

Furthermore, the Hansard Society’s audit found that a rise in enthusiasm for politics in Scotland immediately following the 2014 independence referendum has now completely dissipated.

From a post-referendum high of 72%, the percentage of Scots certain to vote has dropped to 59%, three points below the average for the UK as a whole.

On this basis, a fair assessment of the Scottish people’s general attitude to politics at Holyrood is that they certainly view it as “less bad” than Westminster – but that shouldn’t be mistaken for real enthusiasm or love.

It’s often easy to fall into the trap of assuming that the general population is consumed by the same obsession with this country’s constitutional future as our politicians or the media. In reality, the public is far more concerned about the issues that affect them day-to-day.

Similarly, the motivation for a large number of Scots who voted Remain in 2016 was arguably less an overwhelming passion for the European Union than, having faced the prospect of economic and constitutional turmoil had Scotland voted to become independent in 2014, a desire to avoid the prospect of similar upheaval if the UK were to leave the EU.

By focusing on constitutional matters, politicians at Holyrood and Westminster risk falling increasingly out of touch with their electorate. The UK and Scottish Governments are equally guilty of this, preoccupied in recent weeks by an ongoing spat over Westminster’s so-called post-Brexit ‘power grab’.

Nicola Sturgeon raised the temperature of this debate still further last weekend by accusing the Conservatives of being hell-bent on ‘demolishing’ devolution. Later in the week, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford threatened to see the UK Government in court, declaring any remaining prospect of a deal on the power grab issue dead in the water. The First Minister has also faced ongoing pressure from her own party to keep the constitution front and centre with a second candidate for deputy leader this week backing rapid progress towards Indyref2.

Faced with these ongoing machinations, a large swathe of the Scottish population may simply disengage further from politics if they perceive constitutional matters to be politicians’ only all-consuming priority.

For a Scottish Government that has been in power for more than a decade, a failure to maintain focus on those issues that really matter to a majority of Scots could leave the electorate more scunnered than ever. For the SNP, come election time, a scunnered electorate could be the biggest threat of all.

This article first appeared on PubAffairs: