Cairn, a new association for performing arts workers, is launching in Scotland

Today, Friday June 24, is the launch of Cairn, a new association for live performance workers.

Cairn was set up by a group of professionals working in the creative arts in Scotland following the resignation of the majority of the Scottish Equity Committee in response to a major staff restructuring program within the union some time ago more than 12 months.

In the face of adversity, and after positive conversations with other professionals, it became clear that there was an appetite in Scotland for a new type of organisation.

A database of over 250 people was built, a task force was formed, and several months of regular Zoom meetings followed. By autumn 2021, a constitution had been drafted, a bank account opened, legal status secured and, most importantly, a name for the new organization – 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 enterprise built and nurtured over the years, offering guidance, direction and shelter.

Cairn aims to improve the working conditions of workers in the entertainment and related trades operating in Scotland and to raise awareness of the contribution of its members to the cultural landscape, public life and Scottish economy. It is estimated that Scottish creative industries contribute over £5 billion to the Scottish economy each year.
Cairn is currently a not-for-profit membership organization but intends to register for full union recognition and certification by the UK government if members agree. It is committed to being a fully democratic, member-driven and transparent organization. Members can be anyone working in the performing arts or related trades, including actors, dancers, directors, designers, producers and theater managers, models, voice artists and 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 organization committed to supporting and to represent the people in our industry.”

Carole Anders, an actress 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, in my view, have our own union will take us one step closer to the cultural independence that many of us have long wanted.I can’t wait to have my Cairn card in my pocket.

David Walker is an actor and voice-over artist from South Uist. He works in both Gaelic and English and said: “I look forward to being part of the new journey with Cairn and working for equity and success for all in the arts.”

Other names that have signed up include David Hayman, who described Cairn as an “exciting business” and River City singer and actress Frances Thorburn.

Chris McCusker, a committed labor activist who advised the task force during the founding process, welcomed Cairn’s launch, adding: “I’m so glad their tenacity has paid off. Unions are members first. “

Full membership will cost £60 per year, graduate membership £30 and other schemes for students and associate members who do not meet membership criteria.

The team and driving force behind Cairn are:

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

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

Kirstin McLean has worked as an actor, screenwriter, director and animator for over 20 years. She now concentrates on directing.

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

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

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

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

John Sampson has been involved in theater and music for almost 50 years as a touring performer in the UK and Europe.

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

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

Harrison MacNeill graduated from Cambridge and is building a career as an actor and writer. He is currently involved in youth theater.

John MacIsaac has 30 years of drama school and has done a variety of things in theater.
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.

Andrew B. Reiter