New Artistic Director and CEO Dawn Taylor has just completed her first two weeks in post with the organisation – here she shares a welcome message and discusses her approach in the first few months, and the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.

Hello! What an excellent first two weeks in post – I’ve felt so welcomed by the artistic community, staff and board and am really enjoying getting to know you all.

I’m so excited to be starting with this excellent organisation, and to work with such a wide range of brilliant and fearless artists as we are lucky to have in Scotland’s animation, puppetry, and visual theatre community. Simon leaves some very big shoes to fill, but I am pleased to be joining such a great team.

But, as we know, there is work to be done. This pandemic has left many freelance practitioners in dire financial straits, with little opportunity to generate income or make work, left out of government support schemes, and in some cases faced with the stark choice of whether they can remain in the arts. I also know that years of austerity in a society with deep-seated inequality, mean that some practitioners felt rarely heard and faced frequent discrimination before this even happened – which must feel ever more compounded now.

The challenges are significant: how do we support and effectively advocate for our freelance colleagues who are the lifeblood of our sector? How can we find a route to presenting artists’ work again as safely and quickly as possible? In light of the recent Black Lives Matter protests and justifiably increased focus on representation, how can we properly interrogate and reckon with our practices and policies, to ensure a more diverse and accessible sector for all?

The Puppet Animation Scotland team, board and I are working to answer these questions quickly, meaningfully and through in-depth consultation. I am ready to listen, to learn, to take action, and to advocate for and support our creative community. To begin with, we anticipate publishing our #PullUpOrShutUp statistics on diversity as soon as we can gather them.

One thing that Simon and the team have always done so brilliantly is to have an open door to everyone, and to continue in this vein, I am meeting with a minimum of one artist each day for the first 100 days in post. If you want to have a chat, please drop me an email and we’ll look for a time – the best times for me are at 10am and 3pm each day. I am also very keen to connect with organisations, within and outside of the arts, who would like to build links with our work.

Can’t wait to meet you all soon,

Dawn

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