Sally Thomson

Arts Development Officer, Aberdeenshire Council

Sally Thomson
Arts Coordinator, Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital.
Artist Practitioner.

Strategic development (local authority), project development/delivery (Royal Aberdeen Children’s hospital) and artist practitioner. My roles in the sphere of art in the public realm come from these three different directions – a deliverer/management leader and artist practitioner/leader. My experience as an artist practitioner was the start of my journey and underpins my approach to each of my roles.

Working with the public raises expectation and gathers interest. My interest is how is this burgeoning interest is sustained and supported. When an artist engages with a community audience, what happens when they leave? Whose responsibility is it to take up the left over community expectation and capacity which has been built?

These questions are partly answered by who initiated the interaction and what are the proposed outcomes of the intervention. However, does the artist need to ensure they work closely with local voluntary organizations or structures already in place to support the community groups after their exit as part of their practice or is it the role of the commissioner? When an audience is engaged in public art, to what extent is the artist working for the public and how much for their own personal practice?

The profile of culture and the arts is bound to raise with the publication of the draft Culture Bill from the Scottish Executive.  (Aberdeenshire Council and Aberdeen city Council are working together through a Scottish Executive ‘Pathfinder ‘ project to investigate the notion of cultural entitlements across a city and rural catchment area.)

Within this rise of profile for culture what is the role of the practitioner? Is there too much expected of artists in today’s public realm? Are local authorities and Government agencies expecting culture to deliver too much within  public policy?

I personally think we are in an exciting time in Scotland where  artists working in a socially engaged practice can work in a fashion where the audience and community can be supported as the positive outcomes of a project. The role of creative interventions within social cohesion and community wellbeing are becoming more  widely recognized by different non cultural services such as planning and social services, creating greater opportunities for cross service collaborations.

Ellon Otter Andy Scott

Ginny Hutchinson Gold Pens Peterhead

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