Our History

Outspoken Arts Scotland Ltd is the legacy of a movement that began with the foundation of the Glasgay! Festival in 1993, founded as a direct response the Section 28 legislation banning the promotion of homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle.

Glasgay! launched on Saturday 30th October 1993. This lesbian and gay arts festival was the innovation of Cordelia Ditton, well known in national arts scene as a performer, writer, and co-director of Gay Sweatshop. The introduction of Section 28 in 1988 galvanised a whole new era of political and public agitation and resulted also in the founding in 1989 of the influential national lobbying group Stonewall.

Ditton herself had been involved in the campaign against Section 28. Ditton recognised that important local organisations such as the Glasgow branch of Switchboard already existed. However, it was her idea that a lesbian and gay arts festival, would make the lesbian and gay communities of Glasgow more visible. In 1991 she joined forces with Glasgow-based freelance arts administrator Dominic D’Angelo. Both were determined to to produce an arts festival that would show gay lifestyles and performers and work in a very, very positive light. The mission was to change public opinion about lesbian and gay people and to show the wealth of amazing work that was out there.

The 1993 Festival opened to huge acclaim garnering audiences of just over 26,000 attenders. However, there were hateful campaigns in the press, from Tory Councillors and members of the public de-crying the use of public money on such gay art. This backlash and the difficulties it faced caused two years of festival blackout – 1994 and 1996.

In 1995 Cordelia and Dominic stepped down and a new board of directors was convened and the charity Gala Scotland Ltd established. This company then carried forward the legacy and produced the festival from 1995 to 2014.

In its history the festival worked with many of the top gay and lesbian artists in the world. Names such as Sir Ian McKellen, Simon Fanshawe, Donna McPhail, Edwin Morgan, Jackie Kay, Rhona Cameron, Annie Sprinkle, Penny Arcade, Bette Bourne, Diamanda Galas, Neil Bartlett, Scott Capurro, Pam Ann, Four Poofs and a Piano, Lypsinka, Louise Welsh, Marc Almond, Alan Carr, Zoe Strachan, Stewart Laing, and John Waters are amongst the many others that have graced the festival stages.

The work of the festival was always dominated by the prevailing social climate in terms of acceptance, tolerance and understanding of LGBT rights, equality and the march of progress. That social progress has resulted in the repealing of Section 28 of the Government Act 1998; the Civil Partnership Act (2004) and The Equality Act (2010).
Glasgay! artists across the generations have presented work in various artforms that continually reflect social attitudes, behaviours and experiences of the LGBT community. The Glasgay! Festival was a place where LGBT life was acknowledged, celebrated and understood.

Over the 21 years of its history the festival was funded mainly on a year to year basis by the Scottish Arts Council and, subsequently its successor, Creative Scotland and Glasgow City Council. From 2007 to 2014 it enjoyed regular 3 year funding agreements from the Scottish Arts Council/Creative Scotland. In 2015 the Company was unsuccessful in its bid to become a new RFO client and the Board was asked to consider the future of the festival without the support of Creative Scotland.

The Company was also asked to consider its national role as a promoter of equality and the broader protected characteristics. It was clear that whilst the festival clearly enjoyed strong support in Glasgow the need to spread the message of equality, particularly to outer-lying communities was the principal challenge. The Company agreed to enter a period of funding transition and the board took the bold step of retiring the festival and renaming the charity, rebranding and re-purposing the mission.

The name Outspoken Arts Scotland was chosen to reflect the campaigning roots of the festival as legacy of a movement. A new mission was adopted to work in outerlying communities and to work across all, or most, of the protected characteristics. This transition period lasted for nearly two years 2015-2017 and the Company delivered a number of projects across that period.

The Company continues to be funded by Creative Scotland & Glasgow City Council and since 2018 by Renfrewshire Council.

Archives

The entire administrative, artistic, press & PR archive of the Glasgay! Festival 1993-2014 was transferred to Glasgow University’s Scottish Theatre Archive in Spring 2018.  This archive is still being catalogued and documented but reference to it should eventually appear at this link. http://special.lib.gla.ac.uk/STA/search/

 

See this link for Commissions, productions, presentations and a list of artists/companies who appeared.

Appendix N – Our History 1993-2014

Equalities Resources

Equalities Resources

(this page is under construction)

As an organisation that produces, presents and promotes work with people with protected characteristics we are guided by principally the Equality Act 2010.

As an arts organisation we also draw our working principles on a number of guidance frameworks presented by our funders.  Some of these are as follows

  1. Creative Scotland – Equalities, Diversity & Inclusion Plan
  2. Scottish Government – Community Empowerment Act 2015
  3. Scottish Government – Review of the Gender Recognition Act 2004
  4. LGBT Youth Scotland – offer many resources for young people

6. Older People – Scottish Government – All Our Futures: Planning for a Scotland with an Ageing Population

7. Resources for the Disabled:  |  Flip Artists  |  Artlink Scottish Government

8. Faith  |  Renfrewshire Interfaith Group  |  Scotland interfaith

9. Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic  |  BEMIS REEM

It’s a red letter day for Paisley as Outspoken Arts Scotland, a cultural leader in equalities, announce £72k investment in Paisley and Renfrewshire arts and cultural sector. The organisation has won grants from two national funders: Creative Scotland and National Lottery Awards for All Scotland and has received local funding from Invest in Renfrewshire and the Longstone Trust.

Outspoken Arts Scotland is the first professional arts organisation locating into Renfrewshire to be funded by Creative Scotland, to deliver a year-long programme that builds on the work already carried out on the Paisley 2021 bid.

Recently relocated from Glasgow, Outspoken Arts Scotland is now based at the Sir James Clark Building, at Abbeymill Business Centre. Led by Paisley buddie, Steven Thomson, an award winning creative director and former producer of the Glasgay! Festival from 2004-2014, the organisation has made the bold move to secure a key role in the legacy of Paisley’s bid to be UK City of Culture 2021. Steven Thomson worked closely with Renfrewshire Council, seconded as a Creative Producer, alongside his long-standing colleague Jean Cameron, Bid Director. Despite Paisley not winning the title, their tenure has secured a £4m investment in arts programming for Renfrewshire, resulting in a positive step change for the reputation of Paisley as a cultural destination.

Steven Thomson, Director, Outspoken Arts, commented: “I’m truly delighted to be working across Scotland and giving my hometown the much love and attention it deserves. Paisley is a special place for culture and its people and their stories nourish us in going forward. I could not have done this without the support of some amazing colleagues, particularly fellow buddie Jean Cameron, former Paisley 2021 bid Director, to whom I’m enormously grateful. Keep your eye on Paisley! We will.”

Outspoken Arts Scotland works with artists and communities who share the protected characteristics, those being: age, sex and sexual orientation, gender reassignment, disability, faith, marriage and civil partnership, maternity and pregnancy. The team is made up of Paisley residents, led by Steven Thomson, Creative Director, who has had a long career in the arts notably working at The Tron, King’s and Mitchell Theatres, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama (now RCS), New Moves and also with Bill Bryden on The Big Picnic. Supporting him are Alphonso Harrison, engagement manager, who hails from Virginia, USA and has lived and worked in the UK for over 20 years; Lisa Watt, marketing manager, who has worked for The Mackintosh Festival and Merchant City Festival; and Gillian Lochhead, marketing officer, a recent Glasgow School of Art graduate and resident of Johnstone. Gillian’s post, a graduate internship, has been funded by Invest in Renfrewshire.

The Company has an exciting programme of engagement rolling out over the next year, beginning with creative development workshops with over a dozen organisations. Those partners are as follows:

• Renfrewshire Leisure – 21 Thread Street – a major exhibition on industrial weaving.
• Bogha-Fhrois – LGBT voices in folk music
• Create Paisley – a faith/youth multi-disciplinary arts project in Paisley.
• DEAR Group – a Renfrewshire networking group focussing on equality diversity.
• Erskine Music & Media Studios – an award winning youth music/media group in Bargarran, Erskine
• Feral Arts – Professional arts producers formerly of The Arches.
• H-Arts – Paisley based writer/director and community participants/vulnerable people.
• In-Motion Theatre Co. – working on Voices of Ferguslie a community drama/documentary.
• PACE Youth Theatre – collaborating on a new youth arts festival for Paisley.
• Queer Times 2019 – a major exhibition and fringe programme highlighting LGBT history since 1969 and decriminalisation.
• Renfrewshire Council THCAR2 Regeneration – arts project focussing on social & built heritage.
• Paisley Arts Centre – developing new drama, workshops and artists’ residencies.
• ROAR Connections for Life – working with older people and vulnerable adults.
• Star Project – working with poorer families and children in an area of high deprivation.
• Take Me Somewhere – Scotland newest festival of contemporary performance and live art.
• Paisley Thread Mill Museum – a visitor attraction showcasing Paisley’s historic thread-making industry.

Milica Milosevic, Head of Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion at Creative Scotland, commented:
“The energy and enthusiasm generated through the Paisley 2021 UK City of Culture bid has left a lasting legacy in the area with new opportunities being created as a direct result of the bid. We are pleased to support the artistic programme of Outspoken Arts, their varied programme has the potential to make a positive impact on the lives of many people in the area.”

A National Lottery Awards for All Scotland spokesperson, said: “One of the aims of this small grants programme is to bring people together building strong relationships across communities. We are delighted to have been able to support Outspoken Arts with an award of £9,800 to develop a diverse cultural programme working alongside a wide range of Renfrewshire-based community and art sector organisations.”

Councillor Iain Nicolson, Leader of Renfrewshire Council, said: “We are pleased to have helped fund an internship for Outspoken Arts through the Council’s Invest in Renfrewshire programme, which has in recent years seen Renfrewshire go from having one of Scotland’s worst youth employment rates to its third best. Our ambition is to transform Renfrewshire’s future using the power of our internationally-significant cultural and heritage story – that approach is already delivering results, and we will build on those further in the years ahead. Key to that is in working with the independent cultural sector to help make the area a key destination within Scotland, and a place where people can experience world-class culture and all the opportunity that creates right here on their doorstep. The programme Outspoken Arts are planning will open up those benefits to many of our less-heard communities, and the partnerships they are building will help showcase many of the local creative organisations already delivering excellent work here.”

Opportunities
The company will be offering a number of creative opportunities to participate in its work and wants to hear from participants from any background and any community who are looking for a chance to get involved in the arts.   mailto:steventhomson@outspokenarts.org

 

DONATIONS & CAUSES

DONATE VIA PAYPAL




WHAT G!VES?

Our own unique fundraising scheme – ways to help Outspoken Arts Scotland.

Our programme for charitable giving will not only support emerging and established talent, but also commissioned theatre productions and further development of our annual engagement programme. Help support equality and the health and well-being of our disparate communities and voices less heard by giving back.

1. TWENTYGRAND: HEADLINE SPONSOR Give £20,000

2. TENGRAND: SUPPORT A NEW STAGE PRODUCTION.

3. FIVEGRAND:  SUPPORT THE COMMISSIONING OF A NEW PLAY.

As a new writing sponsor we invite you to support the development of new and emerging writing, acting and directing talent in Scotland.

4. GRAND GIVERS Give multiples of £1,000 to sponsor an actor, writer or director in our trainee artist scheme.

5. GRAND EVENTS

Sponsor event between £100 – £1,000 within the programme, support a drama, music, dance or comedy performance or film screening, or support some of the following strands

  • Visual Arts Exhibition
  • Community Focussed Workshops
  • Feature Film Programme
  • Health & Wellbeing Programme
  • Outreach and Advocacy work
  • Talks & Debates
  • A National Conference
  • Event Ambassadors Programme
  • Poster Campaign
  • Social Media Partner Programme
  • Youth and Education
  • Civil and human rights work
  • Website Development

To discuss these options in more detail please contact during office hours.

Steven Thomson, Creative Director & Company Secretary mailto:steventhomson@outspokenarts.org

Tel 0141 847 1122 / 0141 552 7575 / 0776 272 2460

Steven Thomson

Creative Director/CEO, 2004-present

Steven Thomson is now the Creative Director & CEO for Outspoken Arts Scotland. He was initially appointed as Producer of the former Glasgay! Festival In Feb 2004. During his tenure he successfully grew the Glasgay! into a large month long celebration at nearly 20 venues, attracting up to 35,000 visitors and contributing upwards of £0.5m to the national economy. He successfully repositioned the festival as Scotland’s annual celebration of LGBT culture, grew public funding, increased private sponsorship, and diversified the income base.  The festival was funded since its inception by the former Scottish Arts Council and Glasgow City Council. Glasgay! ran from 1993-2014 and subsequently the company entered a period of funding transition in 2015-2017 re-emerging as Outspoken Arts Scotland. In 2016-2018 Steven has also consulted, as a Creative Producer, for Renfrewshire Council supporting its Paisley 2021 UK City of Culture bid and an Event Legacy plan 2018-2022.

In 2005 Steven was awarded a Pride Award by Phace Scotland and The List Magazine. In 2009 he was listed 22nd place in the List Magazine’s Top 100 cultural movers and shakers of the year. In September 2005 he opened the Q! Gallery, Scotland’s first gallery dedicated to queer art and artists. The festival has been officially listed in Fodders and Frommers world travel guides, awarded Top 4th Gay Destination by USA’s Gay.com and won the prestigious Top Gay Event of the Year (List Magazine 2007). The Festival was awarded “Cultural event of the year” by the Equality Network in September 2015.

He began his career in 1983 as an actor and assistant director of a young, Paisley based community touring theatre company, Arc Theatre Company. He toured “The Game’s A Bogey” by John McGrath (7:84 Theatre Co.). The show transferred to Mayfest 1984. From 1983 to 1987 he worked as Box Office Manager at the Tron Theatre. Following that he was appointed as Theatre Manager with programming responsibilities at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. The RSAMD (now known as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) had just opened a fine new public facility with four large performance spaces and he helped foster a significant growth in the profile of the venue, curating a busy programme of professional theatre, music and conferences. In 1992, after five successful years producing high quality public events, he took up a new promoted post as Senior Marketing Officer.

From 1987 to 1993 Steven also maintained his work as a Director and Producer. In 1987 he along with Pene Herman-Smith and Lorenzo Mele (formerly 7:84 Theatre Co.) founded Made In Glasgow, a professional student theatre ensemble at the RSAMD. The company staged the first Scottish Student Drama Festival at the RSAMD, and toured to the Edinburgh Fringe. In 1991 he produced Dunoon jazz singer and Billie Holiday look-alike Suzanne Bonnar (River City) in “I Cover The Waterfront – the Billie Holiday” story by Troy Fairclough which played at Glasgow International Jazz Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe and RSAMD. He made his directorial debut in 1992 for the Scottish première of Nice by Mustapha Matura which starred afro-caribbean actor Desmond McLean.

In late 1993 Steven left the RSAMD to go freelance and carried off a successful short-term marketing contract with New Moves – Scotland’s international contemporary dance festival. He followed that with a short stint as Press Officer for touring company Winged Horse’s Production of Tom McGrath’s The Android Circuit starring Michelle Gomez (The Green Wing). Mid 1994 he was appointed General Manager for Promenade Productions producers of The Big Picnic at the Harland & Wolff Engine Shed former Shipyard. This epic 1st World War production written and directed by Bill Bryden (former Head of Drama at BBC Scotland and Associate Director of England’s Royal National Theatre). He worked principally under the Producer, Nicholas Newton (founder of London’s the Bush Theatre and son of 1950’s Hollywood film actor Robert Newton). The production was staged to great acclaim to over 50,000 people and recorded for Broadcast on Armistice Day by BBC Television.

Between 1995 and 1996 he worked for Glasgow City Council as a citywide Theatre Manager at The King’s, Mitchell and Tramway Theatres. Mid 1996 he also organised the ticketing operation for the World League of American Football’s Scottish Claymores successful World Bowl Championship at Murrayfield Stadium attended by 38,000 people.

In July 1997 Steven relocated to London to again take up the post of General Manager with Promenade Productions who had been commissioned by Channel 4 to make a new six-part drama entitled SOHO. This was to have been a £6m serial drama filmed at Pinewood Studios. Unfortunately the production was cancelled by Channel 4. Over the last two decades Steven has continued to work in an associate capacity with Bill Bryden and Producer, Nicholas Newton. He has worked on a string of BBC Radio Recordings and the production Baby Doll by Tennessee Williams at the Albery Theatre in London’s West End in June 2000. During his year in London he returned to work for the World League of American Football, this time at its NFL Europe London Headquarters managing, the stadium and ticketing operation for its two main teams the England Monarchs and Scottish Claymores.

In May 1998 Steven returned to Glasgow and New Moves International in a new role as Administrative Director. During his tenure he was successful in securing an increase in the Company’s annual funding by moving the company from project to core revenue funding as well as managing many successful medium scale lottery bids. He also organised a major review by the Scottish Arts Council which culminated in the creation of new posts to further develop audience and contextual programming and took the average annual turnover of the Company from £100k to circa £350k. He found continuing funding support from the British Council, Visiting Arts and from time to time the Arts Council of England. In a bold move in October 1999 he successfully persuaded the Artistic Director and Board to merge the National Review of Live Art and the New Moves festival into a new annual five-week festival called New Territories which ran until 2010.

Engagement Programme

Outspoken Arts Scotland Limited is undertaking a programme of outreach and engagement with cultural organisations in Renfrewshire over the next year.  This engagement programme is funded by Creative Scotland and the National Lottery Awards for All. The activity is as a result of the legacy of Paisley UK City of Culture bid.

We are an equalities and protected characteristics focused arts organisation that delivers work in the performing and visual arts. We wish to begin a process of engagement and project development with up to a dozen local community, voluntary and arts sector organisations in Renfrewshire to build a cultural programme of some social impact. Our organisation worked closely with Renfrewshire Council as a Creative Producer on the Paisley 2021 bid and have met and consulted with many groups in 2016.

From that process we recognised there are many arts and community groups in need of professional and meaningful collaborations with the wider professional arts sector outwith Renfrewshire. We also recognised that many communities in the area are in zones of multiple deprivation and have vulnerable people that require more recognition, support and regular arts activities to promote inclusiveness and better health and well-being. We wish to develop our work through a process of genuine engagement that fosters collaboration, leading to shared creativity and co-production that is truly empowering for all participants.

We have identified a dozen organisations we wish to collaborate with to develop new projects. Those are as follows:

1. Create Paisley, a local mixed arts/multi media youth charity
2. Erskine Music & Media Studios, Bargarran – a music and participatory arts for vulnernable people
3. H-arts – a local theatre company in Paisley which focuses on new writing
4. PACE Youth Theatre, Paisley largest youth theatre for under 18s
5. Disability Resource Centre – a local support project for disabled people in Renfrewshire
6. THCAR2 – Renfrewshire Council’s Heritage Arts programme – regeneration/social history
7. Paisley Arts Centre – a key venue and local co-producer – theatre
8. University of the West of Scotland – spoken word/music – young professionals
9. Diversity & Equality Alliance Renfrewshire – a network of local equalities groups
10. Thread Mill Museum – a local social/industrial heritage group in deprived East End of Paisley
11. ROAR Connections for Life – a participatory arts, health and wellbeing group for older people
12. STAR Project – a local arts/community group in Love Street, north side area of high deprivation

Part of our process will be engaging more deeply and regularly with the groups, their leaders and participants to identify shared interests, stories, dramas, everyday life issues and experiences and seeing where and how we can match the organisation to a like minded professional artist. These collaborations would then lead to the development of larger project which might result in performances, exhibitions, training, presentations and the like. This programme of engagement would be continuous, with regular meetings, workshops and creative development sessions to build capacity.  We will deliver the outcomes of this engagement process as part of our 2019-2021 programme.

For further information please contact our Creative Director mailto:steventhomson@outspokenarts.org

CURRENT STAFF

Steven Thomson, Creative Director/CEO & Company Secretary
steventhomson@outspokenarts.org
T: +44(0)141 552 7575
M: +44(0)776 272 2460

Steven has worked in the professional performing arts since 1983. He has worked at Glasgow’s Tron, Tramway, King’s and Mitchell Theatres as well as the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). He followed that with a large scale project, The Big Picnic, with Bill Bryden and Promenade Productions. He worked subsequently for the Scottish Claymores and from 1998-2003 he was Administrative Director for New Moves International Ltd, producers of the New Territories festival. He ran the Glasgay! festival from 2004-2014 and subsequently transition the company into Outspoken Arts Scotland. He has also consulted, as a Creative Producer, for Renfrewshire Council supporting its Paisley 2021 UK City of Culture bid and an Event Legacy plan 2018-2022.  Steven is the Co-chair of Erskine Music & Media Studios CIC and a lay committee member of the Paisley Art Insitute.

Alphonso Harrison, Engagement Manager
alphonsoharrison@outspokenarts.org
T: +44(0)141 847 1122 | M: +44(0)759 891 1026

Alphonso joined the Company as initially our Administrator in April 2007. He was previously Ticketing Director for NFL Europe League’s Scottish Claymores and England Monarch’s American football teams. He was also Box Office Manager for Promenade Production’s The Big Picnic at Harland & Wolff Engine Shed. Alphonso most recently worked for US military defence contractor Northrop Grumman. in his newly reformed post Alphonso will look after most aspects of artists, communities and participants engagement activities as well as programme and event management.

Lisa Watt, PR & Marketing Manager 
marketing@outspokenarts.org
T: +44(0)141 847 1122
Lisa re-joins the Company after a spell of working on major events such as the Mackintosh Festival and other work with Glasgow’s Merchant Square.  She is also from Paisley and lives in the area.  Lisa brings a wealth of experience in public relations, advertising, publishing and press campaigning.  Lisa will be in post from Sep 2018.

Gillian Lochhead, Marketing Officer 
gillianlochhead@outspokenarts.org
T: +44(0)141 847 1122
Gillian Lochhead joined the company in August 2018 as a recent graduate of Glasgow School of Art where achieved a BA Hons in Communication Design.  Gillian will be responsible for all social media, marketing activities in support of our engagement plans and events programme.

Make it Fabulous! 2019

COMING OUT IN 2019
Call for acts and participation in a brand new programme of events for LGBT History Month Scotland – February 2019.

To mark the 50th year since the Stonewall Riots (July 1969), Outspoken Arts Scotland wants to hear from acts, troupes, performers, artists and activists.

We want to capture what is to be LGBT in 2019 but we also want to remember where it all began and celebrate the fabulous explosion of LGBT culture since Stonewall, through Gay Liberation and Pride Marches. We want you to be inspired by and perhaps celebrate the wonderful troupes of artists who led the way such as Hot Peaches, Bloolips, The Cockettes and even London’s own Duckie.

If you have an act, performance, show or idea that could make us laugh, sing or cry we want to hear from you. Whatever your identity, be you drag queen, femme, dyke, diva, bitch, boy, bear, or ally or none of these- if you can get up on a stage and tell your story – we want to hear from you.

Send us some of the following things –
a headshot, CV, publicity materials, youtube or other social media or website links to your work. mailto:steventhomson@outspokenarts.org

P.S. Make it Fabulous!

Stonewall Inn, New York City, 1969

Hot Peaches, NYC