Introducing the Advisory Board with Leonie Bell

by Glasgow International, December 10, 2019
Leonie Bell, Chair, Advisory Board

Introducing the Advisory Board by Leonie Bell, Chair, Advisory Board.


– Leonie Bell, Chair

In June this year I started to chair GIs Advisory Board. I have known GI as an audience member, as a funder and as a partner so it’s a real privilege to be able to support GI going forward as Chair of the Advisory Board and as its first independent Chair.

Over the last 14 years GI has established itself as a key part of Glasgow’s visual art community, wider cultural sector and as part of the city itself.  GI opens up spaces and opportunities for artists, visual art and audiences to come together every 2 years to celebrate and explore visual art that reflects, refracts and responds to the times we live in. As a result, GI generates significant cultural, economic and social value for the city and Scotland.  GI’s international outlook and local reach means that GI plays a critical role in sustaining, and developing, Glasgow’s position as an international centre of excellence for contemporary visual art.

In 2019, GI was awarded Scottish Government Festival Expo funding for the first time. This means that alongside the Edinburgh Festivals and Celtic Connections, GI is recognised as a core festival in Scotland, part of a national network of major festivals with collective influence, voice and expertise. This is something we are keen to take advantage of and to learn from.

Although a biennial festival, GI, its partners, funders and the visual art community, work year-round and across years to support and develop the festival and the communities and sectors it is part of. It is through building a sense of permanence within Glasgow, nationally and internationally that GI will be able build on the last 14 years to make sure that GI meets its incredible potential as part of the city recently described as the cultural and creative centre of the UK by the European Commission.

As GI heads towards its 15th year, there is an opportunity for the Advisory Board to also respond to the 2020 theme of Attention: to check in on a few things, to learn, to reflect and to prioritise where our collective focus is best placed.  We have huge aspirations for GI and our attention is currently on strengthening and diversifying the existing membership of the Advisory Board, considering ways that we can develop GI’s strategic advocacy, improving our governance, developing enduring cross sector partnerships and networks, and continuing to grow GI’s influence and profile as a visual arts festival in and for Glasgow with internationalism at its heart – all of which will contribute to the long term sustainability and indeed flourishing of GI.

Glasgow International is part of Glasgow Life and the Advisory Board has no specific legal or financial responsibility. Its role is to support GI by providing strategic input, advocacy and specialised knowledge to guide the Festival in its core mission. It monitors and provides oversight of the Festival’s activity in the manner of a critical friend. Its current membership is:

Leonie Bell, Rob Churm, Katie Duffy, Ciara Philips, Andrew Hamilton, Sigrid Kirk, Silka Patel, Andrew Renton, Sarah Strang.

Leonie Bell joined Renfrewshire Council in late 2018 in a newly-created post of Paisley Partnership, Strategic Lead for Cultural Regeneration. In this role Leonie leads on Future Paisley, a far-reaching and ground-breaking approach to cultural regeneration that builds from Paisley’s UK City of Culture bid and aims to establish Paisley as a centre of excellence for cultural regeneration. The approach is underpinned by a partnership of local, Scottish, UK and international partners to harness the power of culture to impact positively on social change and to generate greater equality of opportunity through creativity.

Leonie was previously the Scottish Government’s Head of Culture Strategy and Cultural Engagement. Before this Leonie was Director or Arts & Engagement at Creative Scotland. Previous to this Leonie led on Scotland’s national cultural programmes for London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and was Programme Director at The Lighthouse Scotland’s Centre for Architecture, Design and the City. Leonie is also trustee of Edinburgh International Festival