Shetland Arts Development Agency (Shetland Arts) is an independent charitable trust whose objectives, set out in the Trust Deed, define the scope and type of work the organisation can undertake. The Trust Deed is the primary governing instrument that all the other policies, plans and activities of Shetland Arts are required to support.


  • Ryan Stevenson (Chair)
  • Sophie Whitehead (Vice Chair)
  • Chris Gadsby
  • Olive MacLeod
  • Susan Mail
  • Professor Lynne-Sayers McHattie
  • Robin Sandison

It is the role of Shetland Arts Development Agency Trustees to ensure the objectives of the Trust are realised through the management and direction of the organisation’s Chief Executive and through the approval and monitoring of a range of policies, delegation schedules and strategic plans. A key role of the Board of Trustees is to take the ‘long view’ on the organisation’s development and sustainability, including the monitoring of financial matters such as the approval of annual budgets and management accounts. Trustees ensure the organisation stays relevant to the community it serves by adapting to change and responding to strategic opportunities and challenges. Trustees serve a term of three years and are selected through a process of open recruitment.

The Chief Executive

The Chief Executive has a key role in developing strategy and policy. She/he attend Board Meetings and contribute to the decision making process. She/he has delegated authority from the Board of Trustees to manage all day to day functions of the Trust (including staffing matters) within agreed budgets and structures; and the delivery of arts development activity through the staff and volunteer team, in line with agreed service plans and organisational objectives. The Chief Executive also carries a specific responsibility for Health & Safety issues, ensuring that all relevant legislation is adhered to and that every reasonable action is taken to reduce risk to all who come into contact with the activity of the Trust.

Trustee Biographies

Ryan Stevenson - Chair

Ryan works as a Project Manager at Malakoff Limited, a marine engineering firm in Lerwick, where he looks after the welding quality system and undertakes project management of jobs. Over the years he has been involved in a number of Shetland Arts projects, including taking part in the Young Tradition Bearers project, the Shetland Young Promoters Group and attending the Hebridean Celtic festival as a session artist.

Ryan is featured in the Promote Shetland series The Shetlanders

Sophie Whitehead - Vice Chair

Sophie is a Jeweller by trade, beginning work at Shetland Jewellery as a trainee and going on to complete a modern apprenticeship, she is currently their Workshop Manager and a jewellery designer.

Sophie is featured in the Promote Shetland series The Shetlanders

Chris Gadsby

Chris is a Project manager working for Shetland Island Council. Originally from Leicestershire Chris Joined the Royal Navy as an Engineer in the early 1990s. After leaving the navy Chris worked across Africa for several International Aid Organisations. Chris Moved to Shetland with his young family in 2018 and is an active member of several Westside community groups and is a retained Fire Fighter in Bixter.

Olive MacLeod

Olive was born in Lerwick and after gaining an accountancy qualification, she worked for Baker Tilly (now RSM) for 22 years, before retiring in 2013. One of her main interests is fundraising for Cancer Research UK. She also volunteers annually at the Shetland Folk Festival and assists in organising the Shetland Island Games Supporters Group, travelling to support their team every two years at the NatWest Island Games.

Susan Mail

Susan has worked at a senior management level in the public, private and third sectors. Living in London she was the HR Manager and then Staff Development Manager for the YMCA in England then returned home to Scotland to take up the role of HR Director for Highlands and Islands Enterprise. Married to a Shetlander, they returned “home” in October 2018 and Susan now commutes every day to Sumburgh Airport where she is the Airport Services Manager.

Professor Lynn-Sayers McHattie

Lynn is currently the Programme Director of The Innovation School at The Glasgow School of Art. She has been visiting Shetland for a number of years, as an academic, tourist and weaver undertaking a residency at Andy Ross’ textile production unit at Global Yell. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a member of the British Council Craft Consortium.

Robin Sandison

Robin started out as an Audit Assistant in a firm of accountants in Ayr. In 1985 he secured the role of Chief Executive of Hjaltland Housing Association and spent the rest of his career there, developing the organisation and its role in Shetland. Robin retired in 2012 and is involved with several voluntary organisations.


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