News Story

Edinburgh International Festival Creates New Board for the Future

Today Edinburgh International Festival reveals a remodeled Board of Trustees – with a female majority for the first time in the Festival’s 73-year history. The dynamic new board includes cultural leader Leonie Bell at Renfrewshire Council, Director of Digital Products at BBC Chris Condron, Solicitor and charity legal specialist Marion Davis, Rector of the University of Edinburgh Ann Henderson, Standard Life Aberdeen Chief Executive Keith Skeoch and award-winning journalist Yasmin Sulaiman. These new additions join educational, political and financial luminaries to create a modern board primed for a fast-changing world.

Chairman Niall Lothian leads the Board of Trustees to support Festival Director Fergus Linehan and Executive Director Francesca Hegyi in delivering the annual programme and developing the organisation.

New appointee Leonie Bell is currently leading Paisley’s ambitious cultural regeneration plans stemming from their UK City of Culture Bid, a position that allows her to draw from her 20-year career at the forefront of cultural strategy, policy, funding and programming. Bell was previously Head of Culture Strategy and Engagement at the Scottish Government, Director of Arts at Creative Scotland and had leading roles in Scotland’s cultural programmes for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and Glasgow’s 2014 Commonwealth Games.

As Director of Digital Products at the BBC, Chris Condron is responsible for the product development for six of the BBC’s eight primary digital services, including BBC News, BBC Sport and all the BBC’s children and education services. These services engage tens of millions of UK users every week and at least as many more around the world. At the BBC Condron had the opportunity to work with Manchester International Festival and a range of music festivals on multi-streaming projects. Previously he held senior digital roles at Press Association, ITV (Editor in Chief, and AOL UK.

Marion Davis is a Senior Associate with BTO Solicitors, with over 17 years’ experience specialising in charity law. She has also been the chair of Project Ability, a charity that supports people with learning disabilities and mental ill-health to achieve their artistic potential.

Ann Henderson is Rector at the University of Edinburgh and works in the Scottish Parliament with an MSP with a policy remit of poverty and inequality. She’s also a member of the Labour Party’s National and Scottish Executive Committees. Henderson has a background in trade unions and women’s movements and has previously worked in community development and in the rail industry – including as a train guard and driver in Glasgow.

Keith Skeoch oversees £577bn of clients’ assets as Chief Executive of Standard Life Aberdeen plc. He was appointed Chief Executive of Standard Life plc in 2015 and led the merger with Aberdeen Asset Management in 2017. He was named sole CEO of Standard Life Aberdeen plc earlier this year. He joined Standard Life Investments as Chief Investment Officer in 1999 and was appointed to the Board of Standard Life plc in 2006. Prior to joining Standard Life, Skeoch started his career in 1979 at the Government Economic Service before moving into financial services with James Capel (HSBC Securities from 1986) in 1980.

Yasmin Sulaiman is an award-winning journalist who leads the Creative Bridge programme at CodeBase. Creative Bridge is an accelerator course designed for creatives from all backgrounds to learn best practice in building a digital product business, by learning start up theory and hearing creative entrepreneurs’ stories. Previously she was the Executive Director at Creative Edinburgh, the city’s largest network of creative industry professionals, and Editor-in-Chief at arts and culture publication The List, and has also worked at the Guardian and the BBC.

Niall Lothian, Chairman, Edinburgh International Festival Board of Trustees said
“The International Festival is gearing up for the future and this female-majority board reflects that. More broadly, the calibre of talent that we now have on the board gives us a spread of expertise that would be the envy of any forward-facing international organisation.
“I am looking forward to working with this group, in combining fresh inspiration with the experience and knowledge of our longstanding members.”