Aberdeen Performing Arts is delighted to announce former MP Dame Anne Begg and businesswoman Carol Benzie have been appointed to the Board of the charitable trust, which runs His Majesty’s Theatre, The Lemon Tree and the Music Hall.
Dame Anne and Carol Benzie take the place of Georgina Howden and Jenn Adams who stepped down last year.
APA Chairman Craig Pike said: “We are absolutely thrilled to bring Dame Anne Begg and Carol Benzie on board with APA. Both women are highly influential and respected figures in the North-east and will be a very welcome addition to the table.
“Dame Anne is a prolific campaigner and sound voice of reason, while Carol Benzie brings the tremendous business expertise that comes from her years of senior management at Aberdeen International Airport. Both will become ambassadors for the organisation and will help set the strategic direction of APA.”
Carol added: “I’m delighted to have joined the APA board at such an exciting time. I have a long standing interest in performance and arts but hope that my background in business will be of value to the excellent team operating our fantastic venues.”
Dame Anne said: “I am so pleased to have been appointed to the Board of Aberdeen Performing Arts. I have always been a theatre buff so it is a privilege to be part of the organisation which brings first class theatre, music and entertainment to Aberdeen. APA also fosters local talent and works on artistic projects with the wider community.
“It is an exciting time for arts and culture in Aberdeen and APA has an important role in the cultural life of the city. The Lemon Tree as a venue goes from strength to strength, while the refurbishment of the Music Hall will bring this wonderful building into the 21st century. It wasn't until I began to go to the theatre in London that I fully appreciated what a magnificent theatre Aberdeen's own His Majesty's is.”
Craig added: “APA remains one of the foremost organisations in the North-east for arts and culture and we are dedicated to inspiring and engaging audiences to come. Our commitment to this can be seen in our transformation of the Music Hall, which will keep Scotland’s concert hall in the North-east at the heart of cultural, community and civic life for generations to come.”
To date, £6.4m of the £7.9m Music Hall Transformation target has been raised. The project will create new performance, rehearsal and education spaces, upgrade the auditorium, bring the box office into the heart of the building, create a new café and social spaces and improve access with the installation of lifts and ramps.
One of the ways in which people can support the Music Hall Transformation is through the Take a Seat campaign, which provides an exciting opportunity to be part of the history of the venue – by naming a seat in the refurbished auditorium. Seat prices are in two tiers. Seats can be named for £400 for one and £700 for two, or £450 for one and £800 for two. Customers can choose the inscription that appears on the plaque affixed to the seat. For more information and to enquire about naming a seat, contact Bethany Hogg on (01224) 337633 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Benzie is managing director at Aberdeen International Airport. She joined there in 2008 following a spell of six years spent working with a large local charity who support people with learning disabilities. Before that she spent more than 10 years in finance with the oil and gas industry. During Carol’s first three years with the company she headed up the finance and commercial departments, before taking up the post of operations director in 2011. Just two years later she moved to become Commercial Director, and was appointed as managing director in 2013.
Dame Anne Begg is a former MP for Aberdeen South from 1997 to 2015. She is now a Council member of the SSSC (the Scottish Social Services Council) which is the regulatory body of social and care workers. She was the first full-time wheelchair user to sit in the Commons since 1880. In the 2011 New Year’s Honours List she was awarded a DBE for services to disabled people and equal opportunities, and in June 2016 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Aberdeen. Before entering Parliament Dame Anne was a secondary school teacher for 19 years.
Dame Anne was born with the rare genetic condition Gauchers Disease which has resulted in her bones breaking regularly. She has used a wheelchair since 1984 and regards her chair as her “liberator”. Dame Anne has always believed that disabled people should not be excluded from society. She was a founder member of Angus Access Panel and campaigned for civil rights for disabled people. In 1988 she was voted Disabled Scot of the Year.