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above: gongbo jiang and wen wang perform against the perthshire sky to celebrate the partnership between the royal conservatoire of scotland and world-leading luxury destination, gleneagles. | image © royal conservatoire of scotland / kk dundas

if experts are to be believed we sit on the cusp of a new

All art-forms rely on connections between moments - movement in time. We are not a static object like a painting (though even those can have a movement of their own). A single word, a single gesture, a single note, a particular lighting moment in and of itself does not make our art come to life - it is the joining of the notes, the lines, the gestures, the scenes that create the flow and conversation needed to make our art.

industrial revolution. This time it’s a cognitive revolution; one in which robots and Artificial Intelligence will eventually undertake all but a few functions and tasks, the ones that require the very human qualities of emotional intelligence and empathy. While this may be a scary prospect for some, I would boldly suggest this is a time of opportunity for artists, for creative learning and for institutions like the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

As artists we need to think about how we can make small grammatical moments like words, a piece of cloth, a musical note - into longer structures like a line or phrase, into more complete shapes. Artists, after all, are all architects in some way of their own future and of our shared future.

In the UK alone the creative industries are the fastest growing part of the economy, contributing £91.8bn gross value added (GVA) in 2016, which was bigger than the automotive, life sciences, aerospace, oil and gas sectors combined. There are similar stories in other countries. Many of the skills required to enable this sector to thrive sit at the very heart of a good arts education which, as well as disciplinary excellence, helps individuals build their entrepreneurial skills, the important skills of empathy, flexible and agile thinking as well as the ability to collaborate effectively.

In that shared future – and especially in these challenging times of change - embracing the strength and importance of the arts will be essential. “Societus” in Latin means comradeship, companionship, friendly association and bond between peoples. Can you imagine that being achievable only with finance, engineers and computers?

In this fast-changing environment, I challenge our students to think about what they must do to have an impact and thrive. The answer, I believe, is for them to work hard at their own craft, be open to sharing and learning from other disciplines, be aware but not afraid of the world as it is and be optimistic about what it could be.

Those working in the arts and arts education know what the Western, Eastern and African cultures knew thousands of years ago - that artistic education is not simply a luxury, but an essential for a healthy, enriched and sustainable society.

As Scotland’s centre of learning and teaching in the performing arts, we have a distinct national and international role and a unique opportunity to effect change. We’re distinctive too in being multi art-form (teaching classical and traditional music alongside drama, modern ballet, production and film) with a ground-breaking curriculum which, as well as enshrining disciplinary excellence also encourages cross-disciplinary learning, collaboration and the creation of new art and new ideas in the spaces in between.

For further information on the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland or to find out how to support us please contact Janette Harkess, Director of External Relations, or visit


Profile for Lyon & Turnbull

International View | Spring 2019  

International View | Spring 2019