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Letter from Dame Susan Bruce DBE


Dear Candidate,

Thank you for your interest in the role of Elected Director for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO). I would like to welcome you warmly to our microsite, where you can find further information on the role description, person specification and other materials we hope you will find useful in preparing your application.

The Board of Directors of the RSNO consists of Player Directors, Elected Directors, Nominated Directors, Co-opted Directors and the Chief Executive Director. This is an exciting appointment for the RSNO and a significant opportunity to contribute to its Board, ensuring its activities are in the best interests of the Orchestra and provide maximum impact for artists, audiences, participants, supporters, musicians and staff.

The RSNO has a distinguished history stretching back over a hundred years. We are one of Scotland’s leading cultural organisations, and an ensemble with a variety, quantity and quality of work that is unparalleled among British Orchestras. The reputation of our recording back catalogue, our wide-reaching engagement programme, our innovative new studio space, our commitment to new music and composers, the loyalty of our audiences and supporters and the passion of our musicians, staff and directors are key assets in building future successes.

Music-making is our central purpose. We believe music connects, heals, inspires and enriches lives. Our ambition is to excel in concert performance and community engagement, upholding the highest artistic integrity no matter where we are. We continue to grow and develop artistically, retaining the exciting and passionate performances that have always been a distinctive feature, whilst evolving a more nuanced approach to sound, colour and phrasing under the leadership of our Music Director, Thomas Søndergård.

The RSNO strives to be a cultural ambassador representing Scotland’s aspirations to be an attractive country to live and work in. The past decade has seen the Orchestra return to the international touring circuit with performances across Europe, China and the USA. The Orchestra recently completed a six-date concert tour of Europe with performances in Germany, the Netherlands and Poland. Our future ambitions for touring will focus on Europe as we start to build networks to support us to perform in the continent’s most prestigious halls.

2021 saw the appointment of a new Director of Engagement who is advancing and extending our education work. We actively engage people through music and music-making, whatever their life stage or circumstance prioritising communities most in need. In 2021:22, 360,000 people engaged in our programmes including children, care home residents and hospital patients.

In November 2021, the RSNO launched Scotland’s Studio a brand-new, state-of-the-art studio in the New Auditorium at the RSNO Centre, built for the recording of film and television soundtracks. The first official project was with Scottish composer Blair Mowat, working on the remake of the film The Amazing Mr Blunden which was broadcast on Sky at Christmas 2021. Contacts and connections are now being made with international film industry partners to position these world-class recording facilities in Glasgow as the go-to audio recording studio outside London.

The RSNO’s musicians, soloists, conductors, partners, participants and audiences now use technology to create and experience music in unprecedented ways. Covid-19 accelerated efforts to utilise digital solutions. Recognition for this area of work came as we were announced the winner of the ‘Lockdown Project – Orchestra’ of the Classical Music Digital Awards 2020 for our RSNO At Home series, which reached over 340,000 viewers across the world.

The growth and maintenance of highly positive relationships with funders, supporters and partners is of fundamental importance to the organisation. The Orchestra’s achievements have been made possible through continued support from the Scottish Government, local authorities, corporate partners, trusts, foundations and individuals. The RSNO’s finances are stable, underpinned by a core grant from the Scottish Government. The shock of Covid-19 impacted tickets sales and we are focussing on supporting our audiences to regain confidence post-pandemic. Rigorous cost control systems remain in place. However, current rising inflation rates are impacting the Society. Orchestra Tax Relief (a government initiative (introduced in 2016) that means instrumental groups can receive a payment from HMRC) will decrease over the next three years from 50% 22:23 to 35% in 23:24 and 25% in 24:25.

This is an important moment for Scotland’s National Orchestra. The cultural landscape is evolving at a frenetic pace. We have identified the challenges of a post-pandemic world, the accelerating adoption of technology, the fragile value ascribed to culture in public life, current economic and societal threats, and the need to equip employees to deal with these challenges as key markers for the future direction of our organisation.

We are seeking flexible and dynamic Elected Directors who demonstrate excellent stakeholder engagement skills to help us realise our future ambitions within our modernised governance structure. The successful candidates will have the support of a highly committed and experienced Board of Trustees, and a high performing and very capable executive team.

We look forward to receiving your application and to meeting you.

Dame Susan Bruce DBE


Trustee recruitment video