Nicola Henderson joins NMS as Network Co-ordinator

Published by: Nicola Henderson
About: New Music Scotland

Nicola Henderson

Where do you start a blog to introduce yourself? I guess with a hello! I am Nicola and I’ve just started working for New Music Scotland as Network Coordinator. That sounds a bit like I’ve just joined a group therapy session, but sometimes looking back over your career so far, as you open up to an invisible audience, is a bit like that.

I have been working in Scotland’s arts sector for around 13 years and before that I completed my degree in music from Glasgow University. I spent four years working for The Arches in Glasgow where I was given incredible opportunities to learn about all aspects of working in the arts – programming, marketing, HR, administration, management, funding, commissioning, I could go on, but you get the picture.

It was an amazing introduction to the world of supporting artists and bringing art to people. As someone who only knew how to perform and tinkle with composition in the safety of my own bedroom (and who quickly realised that it was best those sounds stayed there!), but who had a passion for viewing and hearing art in all its different forms, it was an essential nurturing experience that helped grow my passion for ensuring everyone (no matter where they live or how they live) had access to high quality arts experiences.

As my interest in this area grew, I took a leap and moved to Skye to work with An Tuireann on their audience development programme. A visual arts organisation rooted in the community, but with an international outlook. I had a wonderful time there. Bringing challenging contemporary art to a remote island location has its challenges and I relished the opportunity to overcome those barriers and create new ways to encourage the community and visitors to engage with the programme and become part of the organisation. As part of my role there, I set up and ran a contemporary music programme and the Skye Jazz Festival. Thus gaining experience in all the various organisational skills required to put on such events including supporting the artists involved and generating audiences for the work.

I took an even bigger leap after my time there to move to Helmsdale in Sutherland and become director of Timespan Museum and Arts Centre. A place where heritage and contemporary art were just beginning to come together. Together the staff, board and volunteers worked to maintain and enhance the way the local story was told through the museum and archive and to bring opportunities for artists to reinterpret these stories and help create a vision of the future. It was a wonderful time, in a wonderful place. And around all the heritage and visual art, we brought some music in too as no matter where I go I want to bring sound into that place too. I do miss Helmsdale.

I left there to follow my husband’s career – we had ended up living apart as finding jobs for both of us in remote locations had not proved possible. After a year apart, we wanted to be back together and I followed him (after his years of following me around the Highlands) to Aberdeenshire, where I got lucky with a position opening up at Woodend Barn. And this is where my story back into music and specifically new music begins. Woodend Barn is a multi-arts venue in Banchory and home to sound. While there I looked to work with the existing team to consolidate and push further the arts programme that was already in existence. I wanted to see more new work created from a wider pool of artists. We started hosting more residencies, giving artists a safe space to create, experiment, make mistakes and collaborate. We partnered with sound on new work and audience development initiatives such as Framed Against the Sky. So much was achieved in a relatively short time as life was about to change again.

Last year I became a mother for the first time. A huge life changing experience and one that I have completely adored getting to grips with. Magnus is now my main job and so I have changed the way I work. I now manage a few freelance projects inline with being a Mum and Network Coordinator for New Music Scotland was a perfect project to get my teeth into. I look forward to working with the board to help build on the work being done already – supporting the network of new music professionals and helping build platforms across the country and beyond for those professionals’ work to be seen and heard. It is an exciting time ahead!

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