Cairn, A New Association For Workers In The Performing Arts, Launches In Scotland

Cairn has been established by a group of professionals working in the creative arts in Scotland.

By: Jun. 24, 2022
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Cairn, A New Association For Workers In The Performing Arts, Launches In Scotland

Today, Friday 24 June, sees the launch of Cairn, a new association for workers in the performing arts.

Cairn has been established by a group of professionals working in the creative arts in Scotland following the resignation of the majority of Equity's Scottish Committee in response to a major staff restructuring programme within the union just over 12 months ago.

In the face of adversity, and after positive conversations with fellow professionals, it became evident there was an appetite in Scotland for a new kind of organisation.

A database of over 250 people was collated, a working party was formed and several months of regular Zoom meetings ensued. By the autumn of 2021, a constitution had been drawn up, a bank account opened, legal status acquired and, most importantly, a name for the new organisation - Cairn - inspired by Scots language expert and TV presenter Alastair Heather. Cairn is symbolic of the cairns which were, originally, unique to Scotland; a collective undertaking built and maintained over years, offering guidance, direction and shelter.

Cairn aims to improve the working conditions of performance workers and allied trades practicing in Scotland and to raise awareness of the contribution its members make to the cultural landscape, public life and Scotland's economy. It is estimated that Scotland's creative industries contribute more than £5 billion to the Scottish economy every year.
Cairn is currently a not-for-profit members' organisation but intends to register for full trade union recognition and certification by the UK Government should the membership agree. It is committed to being a fully democratic, member-led and a transparent organisation. Members can be anyone working in the performing arts or related trades, including actors, dancers, directors, designers, theatre producers and managers, models, voice artists and stage managers.

Producer and Director, April Chamberlain, said: "At a time when more than ever we need our voices heard, it's great to welcome Cairn, a new, inclusive grassroots organisation committed to supporting and representing people in our industry."

Carole Anders, an actor for over 25 years, said: "I'm joining Cairn because I think actors and arts practitioners in Scotland need their own identity, their own voice and, to my mind, having our own union will bring us a step closer to the cultural independence many of us have wanted for a long time. I cannot wait to have my Cairn card in my pocket."

David Walker is an actor and voice-over artist originally from South Uist. He works in both Gaelic and English mediums and said "I'm looking forward to being a part of the new journey with Cairn and working for fairness and success for all in the arts."

Other names who have signed up include David Hayman, who described Cairn as an "exciting venture" and singer and River City actor, Frances Thorburn.

Chris McCusker, a committed trade union activist who advised the working party during the setting-up process welcomed Cairn's launch adding: "I am so happy that their tenacity has paid off. Unions are all about members."

Full membership will cost £60 a year, with graduate membership at £30 and further schemes for students and associate members who do not fulfil the joining criteria.

The team and driving force behind Cairn are:

Andy Clark is based in Glasgow and has been an actor and trade union member for twenty-five years.

Julie Coombe is an actor, writer and activist who celebrates three decades in the industry this year.

Kirstin McLean has worked as an actor, writer, director and facilitator for over 20 years. Her focus is now on directing.

Laura Cameron-Lewis is a cultural leader, arts director, artist, writer, performer and educator based in Uig on the Isle of Lewis.

Beth Marshall is an actor, community arts worker and union member for over 25 years.

Stephen Clyde graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and has worked as a professional actor since 1993.

Elaine MacKenzie Ellis is an actor in known for Sunshine on Leith, Dear Frankie and Good Intentions.

John Sampson has been involved with theatre and music for nearly 50 years as a performer touring the UK & Europe.

Sandra McNeeley is an actor and has been a union member for over 30 years.

Claire Lamont is a theatre maker, actor and course leader of BA Performance in BSL and English at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Harrison MacNeill is a graduate from Cambridge and is building a career as an actor and writer. He is currently involved in theatre for young people.

John MacIsaac is 30 years out of drama school and has done a variety of things in theatre.
Adam McNamara is an actor, writer, producer and voice-over artist whose work includes Black Watch, Stand By, Black Mirror and Mary Queen of Scots.