Non Departmental Body Merger (including international)

The Scottish Government recruited Andrew Dixon from the Newcastle Gateshead Partnership to Creative Scotland as CEO.  In turn Andrew Dixon recruited me to be part of the leadership team in the merger and growth of two Non-Departmental Public Bodies and reinvent a new one called Creative Scotland.  This was to handle Government investment into the cultural sector and co-ordinate the future strategic development of the creative industries.  It provided an exceptional opportunity to be conceptual and creative at a high level.   We examined, redefined, adapted and invented almost every part of the business.  We learned to communicate in a new language and embedded a new hybrid public/private sector culture.  During the change process I:

  • Improved structures in my division, reducing hierarchical management and introduced matrix management.
  • With the director of finance, integrated the finance and grant management system.
  • Achieved efficiency savings of £0.5million towards an organisational saving of £1.5million.
  • Researched and developed the International Strategy that needed to sit alongside that of other NDPBs such as Visit Scotland for collective positive social and promotional impacts.


Addressing the three key aspects in my division of staffing, shifting static investment patterns and international engagement, I undertook:

  • A review of the 107 different grant lines.  Instigating an “in-service design team”, we streamlined these into 15 new programmes and an Ideas Bank to distribute c.£50million annually with all the associated administration and evaluation.
  • A strategic review of 184 organisations to assess their future potential for investment.  This involved training a team, running decision scenarios and external advocacy.
  • An analysis of the international activity in Scotland for the last 10 years in the context of national and global policy frameworks.  Instigation of the initial International Strategy for the Cultural Sector including the new Festivals Centre.
  • Initiated and delivered the largest Creative Residency programme in Europe, Creative Futures was a £3million programme over 3 years with £0.75 million coming from partnership sources.  There were over 700 participants and 72 partners, many of them international.
  • Responsibility for 3 ‘place partnerships’ (Dumfries and Galloway, the Highlands and the Scottish Borders) and 1 ‘City Partnership’ (Glasgow) to progress solutions in the national context.
  • Constructed new partnerships with Arts Council England and positioned us well with Commonwealth Organisations ahead of the 2014 Commonwealth Games.


VSDB is proud of its public service ethos, understanding the risks, tolerances, sensitivities and scenarios in change programmes within a complex operation.  Other experiences are with Saheylia, Stonewall and the British Council.

Keen to share what we have learned we want to work where organisations have the ambition for high integrity and sound values.