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.