Sue Hoyle's Farewell Speech


On 19 September 2017 we celebrated outgoing Director Sue Hoyle's time at Clore with a wonderful goodbye party kindly hosted by Tate Modern at their fabulous 6th floor restaurant, Bar & Kitchen. Here is Sue's final speech.

It’s great to see you all. Thank you all for coming -  and thank you Dame Vivien, Maria, Chris and Sandy for your generous words, and thanks to everyone at Tate, the Clore Duffield Foundation and the fabulous Clore team for organising this amazing party.

My time at Clore has been one of the happiest periods in my professional life - in fact, in my whole life so far.  I’ve had enormous fun since I started working with Clore in July 2003; there are so many funny stories – but I’d better leave them for much later. I’ve had some great adventures. I made lots of new friends, I learned a huge amount about people and about myself and I got married to Graham. And he got married to Clore. 

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was all those years ago when I first heard that the Clore Duffield Foundation was going to set up a new organisation to strengthen cultural leadership. It’s a little embarrassing now to look back at the enthusiastic letters I wrote to the Foundation, setting out my ideas and thoughts. I was perhaps uncharacteristically pushy, but I couldn’t help it. I was thrilled to be asked to be part of the team creating this new venture, working as Deputy to Chris Smith, from whom I learnt so much, and the wonderful Helen Acton, our founding administrator.

I was on a mission: to change not just the leadership of culture but the culture of leadership, to one that was more connected, collaborative and diverse. I was – and am - certain that the arts and culture make people see things differently and feel things differently.  I know that for sure because the arts changed my life, as they can for so many people. We need and deserve strong leadership if we are to bring about change to and through culture.

The original concept of the Clore Leadership Programme came from a visionary task group including John Holden, Robert Hewison, Pauline Tambling - and the fantastic Sally Bacon.  The idea was generously championed by Dame Vivien and her Trustees, without whom none of this would be possible: I remind myself of that every time a Clore leader tells me “This has changed my life.”  Dame Vivien, you have given an extraordinary gift to the cultural community.

We started as a small team – just 3 of us – led by Chris and guided by a far-sighted and wise Board. I’d like to thank all the Board members and advisers I’ve worked with, including the four Chairs: Clive Gillinson; Nicola Johnson who gave me encouragement and sage advice when I first took on the role of Director; the twinkly and tusarrific force that is John Tusa and now Sandy, who has thoughtfully led the Board over the last three years and carefully and caringly steered the transition to the next phase. Also, I’d like to express my gratitude to David Harrel, Board member of the Foundation and both its Leadership programmes, for his wisdom, perceptiveness and wit, always offered with discretion and at just the right moment.

It didn’t take long for the arts and cultural community to buy into the whole idea and they have been key to the Programme’s success, contributing as speakers, mentors, secondment hosts, advisers and champions. We quickly gained support from hundreds of partners and funders, whom I’d also like to thank, in particular Arts Council England, which has invested in the Clore Programme since the outset.

The little team grew slowly, supported by a superb and ever-growing band of facilitators, speakers and associates. Thank you to all of them including Prue Skene and everyone who has worked with her on our Board development programme.

I will miss everyone I’ve worked with at Clore, all the Clore leaders I’ve met and of course I’ll miss especially the daily contact with the Clore team, such warm, determined and knowledgeable colleagues. As a team they are second to none, as Hilary will have discovered. Thank you each and every one.

Fiona and Alisha are role models for collaborative leadership. It is an amazing achievement to have run 51 Short Courses, to have transformed nearly 1300 individuals and many organisations and inspired hundreds of Emerging Leaders.

Thanks Sharon for your loyalty, endless patience and total commitment to the Clore Fellows, and to Maria, Chloe, Robbie, Amy and Camille and everyone who has worked alongside Sharon on the Fellowship Programme over the last few years. To Rebecca, for your detailed care of money matters, heaps of gratitude and respect. A big whoop for Petia for energising our communications so imaginatively and cajoling a stubborn Sue towards a digital future; I’m grateful also to William and Georgina for your creative approach to partnerships and development.I’d like to extend my thanks to everyone else who has been part of the Clore team at various times and has contributed to its success, including all the fabulous interns from King’s College London. And thank you to every single person in this room – and those who couldn’t join us tonight - for your support, kindness and inspiration.

I’m proud that we stayed true to our mission and values whilst trying out new things and building new partnerships. I’m proud that people from different backgrounds, in the UK and internationally, have gained the confidence to put themselves forward as leaders, and are leading in a different way because of Clore, putting values at the heart of everything they do. The culture of culture is shifting, but there is still a long way to go in helping to build a society which is more trusting, fair, tolerant and connected.

The job is a big one and it’s not yet done. It’s a great honour to have succeeded Chris Smith and preceded Hilary Carty, both leaders I greatly admire. I am very chuffed that Hilary is now at the helm of this extraordinary Leader-ship. I am confident she will steer it skilfully and I hope she finds as much joy and fulfilment in the role as I did.

As for me, I learned from Clore that you can discover new aspects of yourself at any age and at any stage, in new contexts, with new people. Now I am hoping to prove that for myself, as I embark on another journey, as I create a portfolio of research, writing, projects and delicious adventures. I have on my back an invisible but cherished rucksack packed full of Clore experiences, memories and loads of love, which will nourish me as I step forward.

So how do I feel now, at this moment?  I feel happy, humbled, and remarkably proud.  And I have to tell you, in the words of the Clore leaders, “This has changed my life”.  

I learnt from my Mum that you will often disappoint yourself because you set such high standards; but you will remember, as I remind my Mum every day and she reminds me, “Just try to do your very best”.  Well, I tried to do my very best for Clore and I got the very best back.