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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Chief Encounters: Kathryn Welch on singing her way to the top

This feature is about 5 years old

The interim chief of Voluntary Arts Scotland knows how creativity can enhance our lives

What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

A hungry Labrador, the offer of a cup of tea and a text from my friend Huda, who shares a few words of wisdom or a motivating quote to help kick-start our days. After that, I get most of my best work done first thing - I’m on a nine month secondment with Voluntary Arts Scotland, which is a great motivation to make the absolute most of every day here.

What turns you into the office Victor Meldrew?

Running out of coffee.

Is the third sector a calling or an accident?

Very much a calling, although it took me a little while to find my way here. I spend my days surrounded by inspirational people tackling knotty issues and trying to make the world a better place – what’s not to love?

What does your perfect weekend look like?

Walking in the hills, relaxing with a good book and an evening at the cinema, with regular stops for great food and a glass of white wine or two. Having (just about) finished a mammoth house renovation, I’ll take any weekend that doesn’t involve a paint roller!

Would your 16-year-old self be proud of where you are?

Yes, I think so. She’d certainly be excited that I get to explore props cupboards and costume stores, and delighted that some days ‘going to the theatre’ counts as ‘work’. I hope she’d be proud of the impact of the projects I’m involved with, and she’d definitely be relieved to see my fashion sense has improved a bit!

Who’s your favourite artist?

I recently had the absolute pleasure of singing with GhostBuskers, a Welsh community band for people of all ages and abilities. Belting out Daft Punk, accompanied by kazoos and surrounded by their beaming faces is probably some of the most fun I’ve had in a long while.

If you were your boss would you like you?

I hope so. I’d certainly enjoy my energy and enthusiasm, although in truth I probably work best with people who are a bit more circumspect.

What am dram role would you most want to play?

Having recently bought a home karaoke machine, I’m in pretty much nightly training for the roles of Rizzo in Grease and Ariel in the Little Mermaid. I know, the neighbours love us.

Is Facebook your friend or your enemy?

Oh, definitely both. I love it for staying in touch with friends, discovering tiny community groups and promoting local events, but it can all too easily become a black hole for my evenings . . .

What’s your favourite cause apart from your own?

I’ve been using my time on the Clore Social Leadership Fellowship as an excuse to pick the brains of interesting women whose work I’m inspired by. That’s included Sue John at Glasgow Women’s Library, Julie Bentley at Girlguiding UK, Amelia Morgan at Venture Trust and Sandy Thomson at Poorboy. Whilst there’s many more causes that are close to my heart, those women have been a particular inspiration to me.

Do voluntary arts groups get enough recognition in Scotland?

Most people appreciate - often at a very personal level - how being creative can enhance our lives. There are some 10,000 voluntary arts groups in Scotland, and their activities bring people together, spread joy and help create vibrant communities. Whether you’ve sung in a choir, taken your kids to get involved in yarn bombing, played in a ukulele band or joined a neighbourhood sewing circle, it’s easy to see how vital these sorts of groups are to our quality of life. Because this kind of activity is by nature local, small-scale and community-led, it doesn’t have the profile larger arts organisations enjoy, or the capacity to influence cultural policy. That’s where Voluntary Arts Scotland comes in - helping these fantastic local groups to find and secure support, connect to the wider sector and articulate their collective impact.

Which Brian Cox? (actor or scientist)

Scientist. I was totally hooked by his coverage of Tim Peake’s moon landing in 2015.



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