Young Professionals on Arts Boards
Having developed a range of commercial skills as business development manager at Belfast City Airport, Ellie McGimpsey was keen to apply these skills into new environments and wanted to understand the commercial challenges faced by the arts sector.
She decided to take part in the Arts & Business NI Young Professionals on Arts Boards Programme in 2013, which she saw as a good way to get more integrated into Belfast life after having moved here in 2009. At the same time, Oh Yeah! Music Centre – a social enterprise based on the belief that music has the power to change lives for the better - was looking for a board member who could support its objective of maximising revenue potential.
Oh Yeah!’s vision was born in 2005 from a conversation between Belfast music industry participants and the band Snow Patrol. Formed two years later, it provides various music-based programmes such as youth mentoring and community outreach.
McGimpsey joined the Oh Yeah! board in November 2013 and went on to take on the role of interim chair between September 2014 and April 2015.
“Ellie really stepped up to the plate at a time when we needed an extraordinary input from somebody. “From the start she was keen to find areas where there was room for improvement,” says Stuart Bailie, former chief executive of Oh Yeah!.
“As well as being very good at guiding us on marketing and how to present ourselves she helped to stabilise the organisation and make its finances secure.
“She achieved all of this with finesse, doing all of her most sterling work while on maternity leave. Even though she is no longer chair she still steps in and is instrumental in helping us to restructure and develop staff.”
Highly commended in the Arts Board Member of the Year category of the Allianz Arts & Business NI Awards, McGimpsey says joining the Oh Yeah! board has exceeded her expectations. One of the additional benefits she wouldn’t have foreseen was truly paradigm-shifting: “In a professional sense, as an interim chair, I have learned to lead and take decisions. As a result, I have also become better at performing my role at the airport in terms of providing the information required to our board,” she says.
Arts & Business is generously supported by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland.