News & Commentary, Screen, Stage, Visual Arts

The Man Who Goes To Much

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For 11 years now there has been a distinctive presence at the opening of shows and exhibitions in Melbourne. He’s quiet, polite and unassuming, and in profile he cuts a figure almost exactly like Alfred Hitchcock’s.

Clive Scott, 62, (above) makes cameo appearances across Melbourne about four nights a week but he’s not a performance artist. He is the general manager of the Sofitel Melbourne On Collins Hotel in an I.M Pei designed skyscraper. Both his job and his passion is seeing as much of the city’s arts events as he can fit into his schedule. That schedule includes sitting on the boards of arts organisations Craft Victoria and the George Mora Fellowship as well the small detail of running a large international hotel that also hosts its own arts exhibitions.

The Sofitel’s official title is Sofitel Melbourne On Collins, Hotel for the Arts. When Scott became its general manger eleven and half years ago he sat down with his management team and they asked themselves what they could do as a hotel to help the city’s arts organisations. They made a list and went to them offering sponsorship and in-kind help.

Now the hotel sponsors numerous arts organisations by assisting them with fundraising events, hosting their international guests and holding opening night parties. It also runs an artist-in-residence program in which artists talk to their staff (and the artists among them — the chefs) and most visibly it uses its public spaces to hold exhibitions. This year the hotel has held 19 exhibitions alone with a vast range of local and international artists showing works in Sofi’s Lounge on the lobby level and on the 35th floor bar and restaurant level (where its famous loos with a view can be found).

Although Scott has lived and worked overseas for 20 years (managing hotels in Jakarta, Bangkok, Tokyo and in Korea), he is Melbourne born. His love of the arts was effortlessly communicated by his grandmother who took him to theatre, concerts and exhibitions as a matter of course.

Both his parents worked for the Colombo Plan and from the age of 8 to 15 he was constantly travelling with them and living in various Asian countries for periods. His appreciation for the arts grew — but it was partly for practical reasons.

“My grandmother taught me that it was a privilege to go to theatre so you weren’t allowed to dislike it. There’s something good in everything.” — Clive Scott

“The art galleries and museums were air-conditioned,” he says. Even so, those childhood experiences taught him a patient appreciation of the arts.

“I will go to anything,” he says. He has never walked out of a performance.

“My grandmother taught me that it was a privilege to go to the theatre so you weren’t allowed to dislike it. There’s something good in everything.

“Once on the way home from a show I hadn’t really enjoyed, she asked me what I thought of it, so I spent the drive talking about the lighting.”

Handled like a true arts professional.

That professionalism extends to advising guests on where and how to seek out the best Melbourne and its thriving arts scene has to offer. Scott was recently in an underground car park in inner city Collingwood watching a classical music concert-meets- DJ- rave filled with 20somethings.

“They (staff) are told to look for the unusual,” he says. “People come to Melbourne for something they already know about so we want to tell them something they don’t know of.”

His staff — especially the concierges — are told to check out new venues, bars and trends (cocktails served with spices and vegetables are a thing right now), all with the aim of alerting guests to the new.

“They (staff) are told to look for the unusual,” he says. “People come to Melbourne for something they already know about so we want to tell them something they don’t know of.”

Keeping up is always the challenge given the city’s reputation for arts events and festivals, which helps fill the hotel at Melbourne Festival time in October, the dusk to dawn arts celebration White Night in February and Opera Australia’s Ring Cycle at the Arts Centre Melbourne this month.

Things have changed rapidly in Melbourne over the past 11 years. “The acceptance of culture is much different now and the vibrancy has really grown.”

Back at the hotel the trend for communal events and shared experiences has also taken hold. Scott has installed PC- ready tables in the foyer for guests to work and installed more couches in Sofi’s Lounge. The atmosphere is now buzzy, less hushed.

At Christmas, the hotel amps up its arts reputation with decorations around the hotel designed by Peter & Lori Dietze from TDCreative that have been inspired by the Sofitel’s Art De Noel ‘Once Upon a theme. A giant Christmas ‘book’ sits in the middle of the lift lobby depicting five timeless French fairy tales from the book, ‘Old French Fairy Tales’.

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At its Christmas Buffet every child who dines at the hotel on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day will receive their own personalised Christmas Book with their name and three friends incorporated into a story where they help Santa save Christmas.

Scott, who might make a fine Santa if he donned a white beard and wig, is keeping his performing debut to a star turn as Hitchcock. “I was recently asked to play a cameo as Alfred Hitchcock in a new play.”

This article was written for Sofitel Melbourne On Collins, Hotel for the Arts by Daily Review.

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Clive Scott as Alfred Hitchcock at the Sofitel.

 

One response to “The Man Who Goes To Much

  1. This article may have been “written for Sofitel” which I take to mean advertorial, nevertheless I endorse what it has to say, having observed Clive Scott’s support for arts events large and small, be it the Writers Festival or an avant-garde production at fortyfivedownstairs (Sofitel’s neighbour in Flinders Lane).

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