Bridget MConnell to step down as chief executive of Glasgow Life
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Bridget McConnell (63) will step down as chief executive of Glasgow Life in May after 24 years of running the council charity
Mrs McConnell who is married to former Labour first minister Jack McConnell has also had a significant role in major city projects like the £35 million refurbishment of Kelvingrove Art Gallery as well as the building of the £74 million Riverside Museum and the £113 million Emirates Arena.
A former pupil of Our Lady’s High School, she is a graduate of St Andrews and Stirling Universities where she gained an MA (Hons) in Fine Arts, Diploma in Industrial Admin; M Ed and Doctor of Education,
Mrs McConnell was was also made a CBE in 2015 New Year’s Honours list for Services to Culture.
Bridget McConnell has been Glasgow Life’s Chief Executive since the charity was formed in 2007. Under her leadership culture and sport attendances have grown by a third to more than 18 million in the year before the pandemic.
Glasgow Life Museums became the most used and visited museums service in Scotland; Glasgow Club became Scotland’s largest health and fitness network, doubling its membership from 20,000 to over 40,000 between 2007 and 2018; and Glasgow Life Libraries welcomed 4.5 million users in 2019/2020.
Bridget McConnell has played a significant role in major city projects, from the £35m refurbishment of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, and the £35m refurbishment of the Kelvin Hall, to building the £74m Riverside Museum and the £113m Emirates Arena.
Bridget was instrumental in bidding for and delivering the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships and the inaugural 2018 European Championships. She will see the city’s world-class Burrell Collection reopen in March this year, following a £70m refurbishment, before she retires.
During Bridget McConnell’s time as Director for Culture and Leisure at Glasgow City Council and then as Glasgow Life’s Chief Executive, Glasgow became the UK’s first Unesco City of Music; was named European Capital of Sport in 2003; Riverside Museum was named European Museum of the Year on 2013; Tramway hosted the Turner Prize; 2019 World’s Leading Festival and Event Destination; the Glasgow International contemporary art festival was established.
As well as this Celtic Connections grew and become more widely appreciated around the world; Aye Write Book Festival helped build new links between people and libraries; Glasgow was named as one of the top five Ultimate Sports Cities in the world; the largest ever and most popular exhibition of works by The Glasgow Boys was staged and Glasgow bought Robert Burns’ original hand-written manuscript of Auld Lang Syne.
Glasgow Life also welcomed new partnerships with the The Royal Scottish National Orchestra at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at City Halls, The Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun, Scottish Ballet at Tramway, McMillan Cancer Relief at Glasgow Life Libraries, The Glasgow Rocks and Strathclyde Sirens at Emirates Arena under Bridget McConnell’s leadership.
Glasgow’s cultural and sporting successes have propelled the city’s global reputation as a first choice leisure and business tourism destination. In 2019, before the pandemic struck, Glasgow welcomed some 2.5 million domestic and international visitors; boosting the city’s economy by a record £774m and supporting thousands of jobs across every part of Glasgow’s tourism and hospitality sector.
That same year, Glasgow was named the world’s leading event destination.
During the pandemic, Bridget McConnell has been steering the redesign of the organisation and advocating for its role in the economic and social recovery of the city, as well as chairing the Health and Wellbeing group of the National Events Industry Advisory Group set up by the Scottish Government to give advice for recovery planning.
Bridget McConnell received a CBE in 2015 for services to Culture; was named a fellow of The Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2017 and is a Director of Festival UK 2022 Ltd.
Dr Bridget McConnell CBE, Chief Executive of Glasgow Life said: “It has been an incredible honour to have spent almost a quarter of a century working on behalf of this fantastic and unique city. I have met so many wonderful people over the years who have been huge advocates for culture, sport, their communities and the city of Glasgow.
“I could have scarcely imagined helping bring a handwritten original manuscript of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ to the city or seeing Celtic Connections become a global brand, or winning and hosting the Commonwealth Games when I came here. Glasgow’s reputation has grown around the world as a city ambitious for itself and for its unrivalled culture and sport, and has so much to look forward to, including the reopening of The Burrell Collection in March, the World Cycling Championships in 2023 and the World Indoor Athletics Championships in 2024.”
Councillor David McDonald, Chair of Glasgow Life and Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council said: “Bridget McConnell has been one of Glasgow’s greatest assets for more than two decades, building new partnerships and helping to find new, imaginative ways of delivering services across the city.
“Glasgow Life has become one of Scotland’s biggest charities under her leadership; helping people in Glasgow to live happier, healthier and more fulfilled lives. On behalf of the Board of Glasgow Life, I thank Bridget for her exceptional and dedicated work for Glasgow and delaying her retirement for a year while we faced the worst days of the global pandemic. We wish her a long and happy retirement.”