JOYCE MCMILLAN ON RICHARD FINDLAY for The Scotsman 14.1.15.
In persuading Richard Findlay to accept the role of Chair of Creative Scotland, the Scottish Government has taken a huge and welcome step towards ensuring a more stable and creative future for an organisation which has undergone a half-decade of turbulence and criticism since it replaced the Scottish Arts Council and Scottish Film Council back in 2010. Now in his early Seventies, Richard Findlay has been one of the most successful and creative Scottish business leaders of the last generation, an actor by training, and a passionate lover of the arts, whose combination of steady business judgment, and quiet dedication to supporting creative people and ideas in Scottish life, has been of huge benefit to every organisation he has led. In the 1980’s, he helped transform Radio Clyde from an ordinary commercial radio station into a powerhouse of strong journalism, excellent music, features and drama. In the 1990’s, he was a hugely successful Chair of the Royal Lyceum, at the height of Kenny Ireland’s artistic directorship; and STV too flourished under his recent Chairmanship.
And in 2002, when the brand-new National Theatre of Scotland was seeking a founding Chair, Findlay emerged from a strong field as by far the most impressive candidate, a superbly effective and supportive figure who was involved in a series of inspired appointments, and formed a powerful working relationship with the NTS’s first director, Vicky Featherstone, that steered the company smoothly through what could, in other hands, have been a nerve-racking first decade. His secret seems to lie in the rare combination he offers of superb, finely-honed leadership skills, encyclopaedic knowledge of Scottish public life, and – so far as the arts are concerned – a complete lack of ego. Richard Findlay is a leader with the wisdom to know that the job of Chairmanship is not about him, but about clearing a space in which artists can have maximum freedom to do their work; and if he can achieve the same sense of calm and clarity at Creative Scotland, he will once again be making a quiet but hugely valuable contribution to Scotland’s creative future.