I’ve been reflecting on the role RCS has in placemaking - both in Glasgow and around Scotland - and our expanding definitions of success
Increasingly, we see how the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is a catalyst for the arts in our city through our many performances, our education and partnerships, and our work with lifelong learners and children. Our campus was beautifully purpose-built in the 1980s and added to in 2011 at Speirs Locks. Inside, our facilities are lovely and welcoming, yet our building on the outside does not yet reflect the wonder, magic and serious learning that goes on inside.
I’ve often said there is more amazing content along Renfrew Street than there is at New York’s Lincoln Center between ourselves, The Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow Film Theatre, Theatre Royal, The Pavilion, Cineworld and the Royal Concert Hall. But you wouldn’t know it to look at it from the street. Our building has the potential to welcome the world in and demonstrate the critical importance of creativity and the arts to our city and to the wider world. I believe growing our sense of place would not only give more people the opportunity to benefit from cultural activities and study, but be a catalyst for the city’s economic growth and regeneration. Indeed, this sense of place goes beyond our Glasgow home as we seek to project ourselves physically and digitally to further flung reaches of Scotland, often in partnership with local authorities or with The Prince’s Foundation. In these centres, we seek to widen access and provide consistent and high-quality teaching from our graduates and staff. We can be part of the solution to provide arts training for our young people, though we cannot do it alone.
There is more amazing content along Renfrew Street than there is at New York’s Lincoln Center.
Our Research and Knowledge Exchange work has grown in profile, numbers and significance over these last years. I am delighted we have more than 40 PhD and Doctor of Performing Arts students working across many disciplines in partnership with the University of St Andrews. This November sees our third Make It Happen month, engaging our students and graduates in entrepreneurial thinking and helping them define, plan, launch and nurture their own projects in the arts. Increasingly, we are making a strong case to show how performing arts benefits society through education, health, better outcomes from prisons and contributions to the creative industries, the UK’s fastest growing sector of the economy.
The RCS has long-standing traditions of training teachers and we have built this into our sixth discipline of Education. This includes our BEd, PGDE and MEd work across our art forms but is not limited to these degree areas. It is a recognition that teaching is part of something all of our performers must engage with – whether it is the ability to teach yourself for life, to grow an audience or to develop capacity for the arts in others while you develop your own. The finest performers are often the best teachers and vice versa, and a balance of both is a vital part of growing as a performing artist.
Our conservatoire has long celebrated our award-winning graduates and we should continue to do so as they make important contributions to their art. They are not the only contributors to the arts eco-system and we are equally proud of our teachers in classrooms, in rehearsal halls, our community artists, our production artists and technicians and our students and graduates who may not get a glossy award but are doing amazing and vital work. We also celebrate those who studied with us and converted their high-level arts education into another profession entirely.
The definition of happiness and worthiness should not be measured in salary and fame. A more holistic set of measures would include an artistic life well-lived with myriad contributions to making life and society just that bit better, more liveable, fairer, working to help express all of our stories. Our graduates who dedicate themselves to their art are one of the most important things that binds our society together. We celebrate some of these stories further in these pages when we talk about our life-changing work in Scottish prisons, and our commitment to widening access and sharing best practice with as many communities as we can reach.
In a world filled with challenging news, it is a pleasure to share with all of you that Glasgow was awarded the accolade of creative and cultural centre of the UK by the European Commission. This year it was praised for its openness, tolerance and trust and cultural participation. This infuses our learning environment at the RCS and I invite you to dive into this magazine and learn more about our work.