Pierre Boitel Gill

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I am and have been for many years, a solicitor practising in Commercial Property, and a Partner in a Belfast Commercial Law practice, Elliott Duffy Garrett.

I had heard about the Board Bank programme and the Fundamentals of Arts Board Membership workshop through Arts & Business NI. I have had a long-standing interest in a variety of Arts, and in recent years my children had all gained much from their attendance at and participation in The City of Belfast School of Music. From that very limited connection, I had picked up an awareness of how much Arts bodies seemed to depend upon and to benefit from the involvement of “volunteers”, many of whom would dedicate significant time and their own experience and abilities. The possibility of becoming directly involved in an Arts body was a great attraction to me.

The A&B NI Fundamentals of Board Membership sessions which covered and introduced roles and responsibilities of Board membership, compliance requirements, best practice and other duties such as those relating to legal, managerial and financial matters, was very helpful in introducing an awareness of the issues which would be likely to face any prospective Board members involved in arts charity governance, introduced me also to a variety of people with a variety of backgrounds, skills and experiences which could be seen to be complementary and able to be used by such bodies. I knew that my involvement initially would be very much a matter of learning as I went along. I had assumed that some of my own experience in law, both in a practice sense but also management sense, would be likely to be of assistance in addressing some of the issues which any Board I could be involved with may face but the A&B NI sessions made me aware of the likelihood that there would be already wide experience on such Boards, so I saw it as a great opportunity to learn as well as to contribute and to assist.

The Black Box board with which I am involved is an extremely capable, friendly and welcoming group of people with a great mix of professional skills such as in Arts and Business development and Arts provision, HR, tourism, hospitality, financial, Arts and retail management, local Government, all of whom bring a considered approach. I have seen at first-hand how much skill, time and dedication is involved in maintaining and expanding the Black Box as a high profile, inventive and relevant Arts provider through what have been extremely difficult times for Arts bodies, dealing with the enforced closures of venues and lack of income, particularly where funding from Charitable and other funding bodies has been so crucial, and related staff management issues.

It has introduced me to involvement in the management of the Black Box as a high profile, inventive, socially inclusive and forward thinking Arts provider which helps to nurture and support emerging artists, to enhance the view of Northern Ireland, and of the Cathedral Quarter, as an attractive and vibrant place for the creative arts and introduced me to people whom I would have been unlikely to have been involved with otherwise.

I would certainly recommend the Board Bank programme to other senior business people. Involvement would give a different and interesting perspective on how the Boards of an Arts body operating in a different and, in recent times, challenging environment operate and their governance and it would introduce anyone taking up the opportunity to engage with how such challenges can be met with dedicated, capable, approachable people with different work experiences.

Our Funders & Partners

Arts & Business NI is generously supported by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland.