To be honest, I’ve struggled this year. Joy has been hard to come by at work and work is usually something that brings a lot of joy (even when it is tough). It energises me most when the work is seen and shared. When the artists voices are heard.

This year we have produced less audience facing work. We have been quieter and worked more slowly, partly because of the nature of our programme and partly to recover from the burn out of the previous year.

We have planted seeds for future years, made new connections, found new supporters, and been in exciting conversations about new projects and ways of working.

The folk I work with have been incredible, yet again, to work with and alongside. There’s been plenty of hard work, creativity and steps towards recovery.

But we, we as people, as a sector and as a society are diminished. I have used this word a lot this year, because that’s what I see in others and feel in myself.

We are diminished by the recent years of grief, fear and pain. We are diminished by our culture of work and our race to return to work. We are diminished by the financial context and ongoing mental health impact. We are diminished by our attempts to be strong for others, to support and guide.

We have less to give and the demands on us all increase relentlessly. Everything is so much more complicated. In our sector we are reliant on our skilled and experienced professional colleagues to deliver over and over, moving from contract to contract without time or space to rest. We are running on fumes.

I say this not to depress you, but to share a little hope. Because it’s not just you and it’s not just me. Things are very hard indeed. We are in recovery from a mad, mad thing that was swiftly followed by an equally bizarre set of things.

We must have hope and believe in ourselves to see the way forward. Until we do, we can commiserate with each other. Giving each other space to be.

So goodbye to this middling and strange year. I’m grateful for it. For the time I’ve had with my family, my friends and my colleagues, the new experiences that it has brought and the funding we’ve managed to bring in that lays some stepping stones for 2023 and beyond.

Things are still very shoogly, but maybe I’m a bit less wobbly because of the year that’s been.

I’d like to say an enormous thank you to everyone who works with us, who supports us with their time, ideas and efforts. You are all marvellous and we are nothing without you.

To our audiences, we will be back in 2023 with more of the beautiful and bizarre. We can’t wait to see you again.

Happy Hogmanay. Wishing you a happy, healthy 2023 when it comes. ✨

With very best wishes,