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Get on Board to Make a Difference

09 May 2024

Get on Board to Make a Difference - guest blog by Mark Walker, Trustee Director, Thrive

Guest Blog by Mark Walker, Trustee Director, Thrive

We caught up with programme Alumni Mark Walker to discuss his reflections on joining a board and why he'd recommend it to others. 



A few years ago, after retiring from full time work as a finance director of a healthcare organisation, a kindly neighbour and friend (a senior manager in Arts & Business NI) ‘persuaded’ me to become involved in the A&B NI Business Leaders on Arts Boards Programme.

The programme is designed to introduce participants (young or a little older!) to becoming a trustee member of an Arts organisation. The course took a practical approach to the role and responsibilities of being a trustee/director along with an insight to the wide variety of arts and cultural organisations that make up the ‘third’ sector. This was important especially for someone like me whose knowledge was limited to sitting in the 16th row of a theatre or concert hall. However, another of the benefits of Arts & Business NI is their approach to matching individuals with an Arts & Business NI member organisation. This is based on the knowledge and skills you bring matched against what the needs of an Arts business are at that time, along with what particular theme (music, drama, history, art, theatre etc) you may have a specific interest in.

My background being in finance meant that the matching was against member organisations that had an interest/need for someone like me. From this shortlisting, I identified Thrive Audience Development, an organisation that provides support to the Arts sector through research, evaluation and communication.

Looking back over the past years as a trustee, I can testify to the benefits that a board with a reasonably wide range of backgrounds, knowledge and enthusiasm can bring to an organisation that does rely very much on the governance, support and challenge that makes the organisation a success. Members of a board learn much from each other and from the organisation’s management and staff. From my own perspective and understanding, while finances are never far from the top of the list of priorities, the individual and collective contributions are what can make a difference.

The Arts & Business NI Leaders on Arts Boards programme is a great approach to making the step into Arts organisation boards. It is well thought out and made up of good introductions to the realities of board membership delivered in a friendly and informal manner. Allied to the matching process, this is something that I can recommend to anyone considering getting involved to help make a difference.

If you are interested in finding out more about taking part in the Leaders on Arts Boards programme click here. 

Our Funders & Partners

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