January and February were busy months despite the bad weather. March however did not bring Spring weather but a return of the 'Beast from the East.' Thus my travels to the Borders Art Fair and RSA activity there were, shall we say, interesting!
I had hoped to see the session with Janet Archer FRSA, CEO Creative Scotland, so it was with great disappointment that she was unable to make it. I hope she might be able to present again at a future event. Ann Packard had however been sent her presentation and delivered an overview of this whilst fielding what questions she could from a small, all non-RSA audience. This in itself was interesting.
It was interesting to see what people knew about RSA and also how it is presented to a non-fellowship audience. Being at an Art Fair some made connections to the Academy. It is something for us to consider going forward as we seek to raise the profile of RSA and in particular RSA Scotland.
Whilst a small number attended the first event of the Borders Art Fair weekend, Ann reported greater numbers as the weekend went on and vibrant discussions. This was good to hear.
I made my way back to Stonehaven in dreadful conditions and with something brewing. Sadly by my return flu had kicked in and prevented me getting to the London Fellowship Council meeting.
Nevertheless much work has been going on in the background and that was able to be shared with the meeting:-
The call for fellows to support activity in the regions and also around thematic areas has received a number of responses. The RSA Scotland Team (Jamie Cook, Head of RSA Scotland -and Tanya Hines OBE and I as Fellowship Councillors) are now arranging meeting with those who have kindly volunteered expertise, experience and support. As reported in the last blog, we have been able to activate networks in both St Andrews and Shetland recently.
As part of this I have plans to revisit fellows in Shetland to continue to support this newly formed group in our most northerly area. I am also heading over to see fellows in Inverness and Orkney where we have some activity starting to be planned in these areas.
Alongside this regional work I have been activity discussions with some fellows with an education background to stimulate some activity there. In my own work it has been a busy month on the education front, not least of which involved speaking at and chairing the afternoon session of the Scottish Policy Conference on the future of Curriculum for Excellence. However by far the most exciting event of the past month was attending the RSNO “A Day at the Museum” concerts for nursery school children. The excitement, wonder and engagement these created was just magnificent.
With regards to RSA Scotland work in education, once initials ideas of RSA Scotland education networks/activity have formed up a little more I will be in touch to start sharing and getting wider input. For now, I am enjoying speaking with various fellows and seeing, using MyRSA, the wide array of talents and expertise we have in our fellowship. I would urge you all to use the tool and reach out to fellows via this online connector.
I asked fellows to update profiles on MyRSA in my last blog and would do so again. It is a great tool but, like physical RSA work, relies on input to it. The collective is always greater than the sum of its parts.
In other activity we have kept in touch with a group of Edinburgh fellows whom Tanya and I met with at the end of last year. One of the things noted by them was the need for more regular communication. Jamie’s RSA Scotland newsletter was well received and I hope this blog gives an idea of the sort of work I have been supporting as a Fellowship Councillor. I have also been in touch with a group of fellows who are working on Inclusive Growth and I have further meetings set up with them on video conference and also a fortuitous meeting with one of the group in Aberdeen in May. Again, I will be asking them to share some of their work via blogs and the Scottish newsletter so we are all aware of some of the great ideas emerging and activity evolving from them.
In the background we have also been working with Jamie and Mathew Taylor's office around the annual conference. For now, please hold 15th June in diaries. Jamie will send out a confirmation in due course but this looks to be the date.
Jamie's own work has been quite something since the start of the year. Work on Universal Basic Income continues to grow and I am sure will feature at the conference. Regular updates on this have been provided via the RSA blog and Twitter. Other areas of work developing have been the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission and Resilient Cities. Again there is much content and updates of events online if you wish to find out more about these areas.
As part of the Resilient Cities work fellows were invited to a presentation at the US Consulate and then a reception after at Edinburgh City Chambers. It was fascinating to meet fellows working in this area and also to meet with fellows who had come along to find out more. The work was fascinating not least because of the strong USA:Scotland links in the project. It was a classic example of fellows reaching out on common ground to seek support, share ideas and instigate actions.
The mission of RSA Scotland remains clear:- Enriching society through ideas and action. Do continue to engage by being inspired by or sharing ideas online or at events. And do engage I some of the actions already happening via regional events or thematic work. To engage, it only take a message on MyRSA, then a phonecall or email and/or meeting a fellow, in true RSA heritage, for a coffee. Moreover, if you have an idea- so share it with our broad fellowship and start to take it forwards to action. Together everyone achieves more. In the past month we have seen some collaboration and coffee meetings taking place from the Borders to Shetland.
Neil DR McLennan FRSA, FSA Scot, MYAS
Skills Blog www.bit.ly/skills4success