How we work

VOCAL (the national association for culture and leisure managers) is the representative body for strategic managers working in Scotland’s culture and leisure services. Working closely with the Scottish Government and leading national agencies, VOCAL aims to:

  • Influence policy development
  • Increase the profile of the sector
  • Share understanding about impacts and benefits
  • Bring people together and forge new partnerships
  • Be at the forefront of new ways of working
  • Exchange news, views and information

VOCAL acts as the hub for many of the professionals, local authorities and organisations working in the culture and leisure sector in Scotland. We provide unique access to the opinions, experience and knowledge of influential individuals working in the field. We also act as a vehicle for the cross-fertilisation of ideas, reaching out to new public sector actors and those involved in the wider delivery of public services. As such, VOCAL draws together and articulates the broad ways in which culture and leisure contributes to quality of life across Scotland.

Working together

Local government is facing unprecedented challenges in relation to public finance, the call for public sector reform and the evolving socio-economic forces which shape and drive the demand for public services. In combination these factors demand new and imaginative responses from those working in culture and leisure whilst also laying down fresh challenges and expectations on VOCAL as the representative body for the sector.

VOCAL has made great strides in the last year principally in relation to How Good is Our Culture and Sport, the strategic framework, the conference, and re-launched website. It is also evident, however, that more could be done.

Our visions and plans

Future priorities for VOCAL include:

  • Consolidating the national roll-out of How Good is Our Culture and Sport
  • Advising the sector on how best to respond to Public Service Reform
  • Increasing engagement with Community Planning Partnerships and Single Outcome Agreements
  • Highlighting, assessing and sharing alternative delivery models
  • Gathering and communicating evidence about the benefits of culture and leisure within a local government context
  • Advocating on behalf of the sector to the Scottish Government, COSLA and other key strategic partners

Who we are


VOCAL Chair: Richard Grieveson

Richard Grieveson is Head of  Resource Planning and Community Services at Dumfries and Galloway Council.


VOCAL Vice Chairs

Susan Deighan, Chief Operating Officer at Glasgow Life


Eamon John, Manager Healthy Living Service, East Lothian Council


Heather Stuart, Chief Executive, Fife Cultural Trust


VOCAL Secretary

Secretarial services for VOCAL are currently provided by the offices of the Chair, Richard Grieveson, and enquiries should be sent to richard.grieveson@dumgal.gov.uk

 VOCAL Treasurer: Merrill Smith

Merrill Smith

Merrill is the Head of Corporate Communications and Policy for Leisure and Culture at Dundee City Council.


Our members

If you wish to contact VOCAL Members please email VOCAL Treasurer Merrill Smith (merrill.smith@dundeecity.gov.uk)

Getting involved

VOCAL membership is open to all local authority, trust and national agency managers who work in or with the culture and leisure sector in Scotland. If you are interested in taking out membership please contact Merrill Smith (merrill.smith@dundeecity.gov.uk).  Corporate memberships for local authorities and other organisations are also available which include a set number of individual memberships as well as a range of wider benefits.  Further details can also be obtained from Merrill.

2014 Membership Letter

VOCAL Corporate Membership