New Board members appointed for Aberdeen Performing Arts

Chris Collins is Professor of Music and Head of the School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture at the University of Aberdeen.

ABERDEEN Performing Arts have announced the appointment of four new Board members. Chris Collins, Christine Dodds, Gareth Masson and Yolisa Phahle will contribute to further strengthening the governance and strategic direction of the leading arts organisation in their new roles.

Also officially joining the Board was Edel Harris OBE, who was announced last month as Chair Elect. Edel will take over from current Chair Craig Pike later in the year.

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Mr Pike said: “Our new Board members are all excellent additions to Team Aberdeen Performing Arts. We were hugely impressed with the calibre of applicants throughout the recruitment process and I’m confident that our new board members will all help to shape a very bright future for us going forward.”

Aberdeen Performing Arts Chief Executive, Sharon Burgess, said “Chris, Christine, Gareth and Yolisa all bring their own unique and wide-ranging skills and considerable experience to Aberdeen Performing Arts and will be invaluable assets to the team. We are beyond thrilled to be welcoming them on board.”

Chris Collins is Professor of Music and Head of the School of Language, Literature, Music and Visual Culture at the University of Aberdeen. He is a musician and musicologist by training. He is a pianist and conductor, and is considered an international authority on the life and work of the Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. He also works on early twentieth-century music more broadly, and on British popular music from the 1960s onwards. He is an omnivore of art, music and theatre, and he is particularly passionate about ballet. He is a veteran advocate for music education, and in 2020-21 he was President of the Independent Society of Musicians, helping to coordinate the music sector’s response to Brexit and Covid.

Christine Dodds is a Chartered Accountant with a background in both Big Four accountancy practice and the energy sector. She has held numerous finance-based leadership roles since qualifying in 2008 and has extensive experience in strategy development and execution, risk management, corporate governance and financial reporting. She is currently Finance Director at Peterson Energy Logistics based in Aberdeen. A staunch advocate for diversity and inclusion, Christine also serves on the OEUK D&I Task Group and the AXIS Network’s subcommittee for content creation. Born and raised in Aberdeen, Christine hopes the combination of her professional experience and love of the arts will be a valuable addition to the board.

Gareth Masson has lived all his life in Aberdeen, having been educated at Robert Gordon’s College and the University of Aberdeen. Graduating in Law, and completing his Diploma in Legal Practice in the early 1990s, Gareth then began training as a solicitor, and has been a partner in the firm of Blackadders LLP, (and previously Adam Cochran, Solicitors) for many years. He now specialises in family law and is a specialist, accredited by the Law Society for Scotland, in both Family and Child Law. Gareth’s interests in the performing arts started in childhood, and he made his His Majesty’s Theatre debut in a production of Scottish Opera’s “Macbeth” when he was seven, quickly followed by Scottish Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” the same year. Whilst at University, Gareth was involved heavily in the Student Show, both on stage and behind the scenes. His involvement in Student Show was a springboard to participation in local amateur theatre productions with a number of local theatre companies. Gareth has performed in all three of Aberdeen Performing Arts’ venues many times over the years.

Yolisa Phahle is a seasoned CEO and executive board member with over 30 years’ experience in the traditional and digital media industry in the UK, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her global career in the arts and entertainment industry has achieved industry wide recognition (CNBC Southern Africa Businesswoman of The Year 2017, Variety Magazine’s Top 50 Women of Impact 2019, The Mirror’s Top 100 Black Britons, 2019). A musician by training, who recorded, and performed with Soul II Soul, Duran Duran, and other award winning artists, she is a lifelong supporter of the performing arts and its power to drive positive societal change. Yolisa’s broadcast career started in news and current affairs at the BBC World service. She later worked for BBC 1 and 2, Radio 1, and 6Music.

More recently she held a number of CEO positions with the Multichoice Group (a listed company on the
Johannesburg Stock Exchange, that provides video entertainment services for more than 23 million households), driving the group’s local programming strategy, raising the profile of African storytelling globally and growth in the digital business. She is a strategic leader, with extensive operational experience of developing talent, staging live events, production, and managing stakeholders from government to advertisers. Currently consulting to Multichoice, Yolisa is also a trustee for the group’s Enterprise Development trust which focuses on job creation and supporting the growth of SMEs.

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