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#MeetTheAmbassadors: Rodolfo Barradas

Jasmin Glynne

14 June 2021

Each week we will be spotlighting one of our amazing 2021 cohort of Ambassadors! This week we caught up with Yorkshire and the Humber ambassador Rodolfo Barradas to discuss trusteeship and his campaign to demystify trusteeship in arts and culture charities!

Rodolfo Barradas

Yorkshire and the Humber Ambassador

Young Trustees Movement Ambassador

Originally from Portugal, Rodolfo has called Yorkshire home for over 10 years. He is a trustee of two arts charities, Bradford theatre company Freedom Studios and East Street Arts in Leeds.  Rodolfo is a marketing and communications professional and a civil servant. He has previously worked for multiple arts charities, including Ilkley Literature Festival, Cast in Doncaster and York Theatre Royal. Rodolfo wants to demystify what boards of trustees are and do, and help bring a greater diversity of voices into spaces where decisions are made.

How did you get involved in trusteeship?

I’ve been a trustee since I was 24. Yet growing up as a working-class, first generation immigrant, I didn’t really know what trustees were or did, never mind that I could be one.

I first came across trustees when I started working in arts organisations, most of which are charities. Here was this group of people, who sat at the top of the organisation and made decisions about what we did as a charity. Not that I have ever met more than half the board for any charity that I worked for. Still, it clearly seemed the place to be if I wanted to learn how things were really run.

So I kept an eye out for local opportunities. This came when Freedom Studios had a public call out for trustees. I was interested but also unsure if I could just apply. All the trustees that I knew didn’t look or sound like me. Was I not too young at 24? Did I have enough experience when it came to it? What did I know after all? So before applying I had an informal chat with one of the directors, who gave me the reassurance that I needed to put in my application and start my trusteeship journey.

What motivated you to become an Ambassador for the Young Trustees Movement?

Like many others I heard about YTM through a new work colleague. It was the first time I'd met someone else my age who was also a charity trustee. And here was a whole movement of people like me. So I joined the digital hub, became a Champion and shared my story on the blog.

Since March last year there's been a lot of talk about ‘going back to normal’. But when it comes to board diversity, what is normal is not ok.  As we recover from Covid-19’s devastating impact, we need to build a new normal for our boards and governance. When the opportunity came, I jumped at the chance to become an Ambassador and play a more active part in building the movement and creating change.

What is your campaign focus and why are you passionate about it?

There's about 700,000 trustees across England and Wales.  That’s a lot of people making decisions for the public benefit in boardrooms where youth and other diverse voices are nowhere to be seen or heard.

Working to change this, my campaign work focuses on demystifying trusteeship - what trustees are, do and who can be one. We also need to shift from why - we know the why, the research is done and we've talked enough about it. Instead we need to focus on the hard work of practical steps required to change who gets to sit in the boardroom.

I want to showcase the many actionable levers charities and boards can take right now, from board recruitment practices to offering volunteering leave and actively nurturing a pipeline of talent for future recruitment. As the Yorkshire and the Humber Ambassador, I’m doing this through advocacy and partnerships with the charity sector from Bradford to Hull.

Nationally my focus is on arts and culture charities. Our cultural organisations decide what stories get told and who tell them; create experiences that we turn into treasured memories that shape us; make our villages, towns and cities better places to be. Within the sector there's lots to do but also pioneering work. Check out the pioneering work of Roundhouse's Youth Governance Guide. Or how Pilot Theatre in York, Zest Theatre in Lincoln and Peckham Theatre approached board recruitment.

In light of Covid-19, charities need now more than ever younger people as part of diverse boards and decision-making processes to challenge received wisdom, encourage innovation and drive change to create a better, more sustainable future.

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