Someone once said to me ‘Have a compelling vision and don’t take no for an answer

I have started this blog post too many times to mention, I didn’t think it would be this hard. I have been with Cultural Enterprise Office for 3 years this September and although it feels like I have only just joined, it has also been the longest 3 years of my life.

It’s always tough joining an organisation that has gone through lots of change and challenge. The first year, like many, was challenging, spending time understanding our place in the world, the work we had delivered and what we should be doing for our community going forward, but I am not one to be easily daunted so I worked my way through that.

And then came my first experience of RFO as a CEO. I had delivered on RFO bids before as a consultant and as the Chair of arts organisations, but this was the first time I had been wholly responsible for one. I could talk for the next three weeks about that process, believe me, there is an event in there, it was a slog.

With only 4 months to go until our current funding ran out, CEO received the email in January 2018 that we were no longer being core funded by Creative Scotland. It was devastating news.

Over the months that followed we grappled with who we were and what we should do next. We contended with comments like ‘we are not convinced of your approach’ ‘you are not fit for purpose’ and my favourite – ‘why don’t you close the organisation down’. And tempting as that last option was some days, we weren’t ready to let it all go. You guys wouldn’t let us!

Over the months I’d spent at CEO something had happened. I had fallen in love. I had fallen in love with the potential I could see, the organisations that had come through our door, the individuals that so desperately needed someone to understand their business in a legitimate way and support their journey.

Fast forward 18 months, and we have got a lot right and we have got a lot wrong. I am sorry for the poor and inconsistent service people have received and I am very conscious of what we have not delivered on and I own that. But we haven’t been sitting still, believe me! I am very happy to be able to say we will, and we have changed. Our service going forward will be the best it can be, and we are striving hard to secure funds and investment to make the offers we can create the right thing for the communities we serve.

I am delighted that we can now announce the ‘Creative Entrepreneurs Club’ which is a fresh, user-driven approach to connecting like-minded creative entrepreneurs and getting tailored support. There are other wonderful things brewing here, but that’s for another time.

Over the last 30 odd months, I have had many, many sleepless nights, and many, many fraught days. I have been frustrated and I have been overjoyed, mostly I have been encouraged by the global community here that has offered support, guidance, inspiration and reassurance that we in Scotland have a clear mindset that dedicated business support for the creative economy is important, exciting and the right thing to do.
Please join us and help us get this right for you and your business. We promise to do our damnedest!

Blood, sweat, and tears (more than I care to admit),
Rachael