Wednesday 6 March 2013

Members Blog No 7 Jim Tough, Executive Director

In this update we will try to offer you a distilled account of what has, and will be happening, but as ever don’t hesitate to get in touch if you want to know more, or have any comments.

A major concern has been to improve the scope and quality of our communications with the wider world; our role as advocate, celebrant and catalyst for change depends on it. So we are very excited by the launch of the new, improved Saltire Society website. We are very aware that many members are not ‘on-line’ but I would encourage you to ask any friend/neighbour/family member/librarian who is connected to let you have a wee look at our dynamic new web presence. Electronic communications has many advantages. For example each mail-out to members costs £550. That, and environmental considerations, of course suggests we should be moving increasingly towards on line communications. Your cooperation towards that end is appreciated. The new website really adds to our repertoire, allowing us to conduct business on line (ticket sales, awards entries and membership fees), to act as a platform for debate and discussion, maintain and promote our events, profile our awards, and promote branch activities. We also have our first member’s profile from Ronnie Cramond and we have introductions for our award panel conveners about their work. To give you a taste of the find of material we will be putting onto the website we have attached the first ‘blogs’ from our Convener David Ward and I.

The other aspect of our communications is a refreshed brand. The logo (see above) and all our associated material have been re-designed. This allows us to use a wider range of promotional material such as post cards and banners. We have also distilled our role into a few simple sentences to allow us all to better communicate what we stand for; we are looking at these short statements being incorporated into a membership card and can be seen today in the enclosed postcards. By all means send one to a friend who might be interested in joining us!

Next to our awards. There is very positive news across the full range of our current awards and we have two new awards in the pipeline. We have new conveners in the Civil Engineering Panel (Gordon Pomphrey) and the Housing Panel (Jude Barbour), and new members in the Literary Panel, The History Book Panel and the Arts and Crafts in Architecture Panel. The two new awards are a great opportunity support important areas of our interest as well as enhance our profile in the wider community.

The Saltire Publisher of the Year Award will be launched on the 4th March at the Publishing Scotland Conference. We have secured £5000 in sponsorship from Creative Scotland to support this new award, which in its inaugural year will be dedicated to the life and work of Dr Gavin Wallace. We are grateful to the individuals who are committing time and expertise in the new panel for these awards.

The panel comprises Professor Claire Squires (Stirling University) Clare Malcolm (CEO of ‘New Writing North’ from Newcastle) Roz Delahey (Award winning ‘Mainstreet Books’, St Boswells), Jenny Brown (Jenny Brown Literary Associates), Aly Barr (Creative Scotland) and Marion Sinclair (CEO , Publishing Scotland)

A boost across the awards spectrum will be the new Saltire International Travel Award. Four young graduates will have the chance to widen their experience and deepen their understanding of their subject area. We are very grateful to the British Council Scotland which has supported this programme to the tune of £6,000. Again the new website is a great facility for promoting all of this new activity.

I have an important date for your diaries worthy of early notice. Our first ever ‘Saltire Celebrates’ event will take place on the 30th November and comprise a day of discussion with and amongst our award winners across the board, followed by an informal social gathering. Details are being finalised but we expect places to be sought after.

We continue to build new alliances and partnerships that support our wider aims. You may recall our work with Hands Up For Trad in their Hall of Fame project, and we hope to continue that in 2013. Our work with Traverse Theatre and Society of Scottish Playwrights bears fruit in their forthcoming anniversary celebrations in April. Executive Board member Professor Ian Brown will present a day of discussion on the Future of Scottish Playwriting at the Traverse on the 12th April. Let us know if you would like to attend.

An exciting new partnership has been nurtured with the help of member Professor Isobel Murray. ‘Noufest’ will see a weekend of events and celebrations celebrating the life and work of Naomi Mitchison in Carradale, Kintyre on the weekend of the 10th May. In advance of that a lecture and discussion event will be held on the 4th May at the National Library of Scotland featuring Isobel and others. Again let us know if you wish to attend and we can provide details. The other new possibility of partnership working arises from our recent discussion with the Scottish Review of Books. More of that in due course I hope.

An important aspect of our work has been our role as commentator on matters of wider civic interest. The Saltire Series will see us revive our role as pamphleteer with three planned for publications this year. The details will be announced soon, but suffice to say that the topics and authors will be of significant interest.

One small disappointment last year was the delay to the building improvements at HQ. But we will crack that in 2013! With the expert eye of Council member Hector McDonald in evidence we are now tendering for work packages that will see the work progress over the spring.

All of this activity has been both exciting and demanding. Sarah and I are grateful to all of you who have helped in various ways. Meanwhile we are delighted to add some expertise and capacity, with two new internships confirmed. The first of these will focus on the Saltire Publisher of the Year Award with details available from HQ and on the website if you know anyone who may be interested. I hope you will agree that these are exciting time for the Society and as ever your thoughts and comments are most welcome,

Aye Yours,
Jim Tough, Executive Director

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