Future arts leaders

Next week, 23 dynamic young Australians from across the country begin a journey to become the nation’s arts and cultural leaders of the future.

Next week, 23 dynamic young Australians from across the country begin a journey to become the nation’s arts and cultural leaders of the future.

The handpicked participants, already leaders in community arts organisations and managers of creative projects, will undergo an intensive five-day workshop, followed by a period of mentoring by senior executives, to equip them with the skills to lead major arts organisations.

The Emerging Leaders Development Program (ELDP) has been developed by the Australia Council for the Arts, to fill an identified gap in arts leadership development.

“This is the first time that young arts leaders have been targeted with a residential training program specifically designed to equip them with the skills to run large arts organisations such as Opera Australia, the Melbourne Theatre Company and the Adelaide Symphony,” said Tony Grybowski, Australia Council’s Executive Director of Arts Organisations.

“The Council was bowled over by the standard of applications to the program. These are the elite of our young arts leaders and for many of them this is the chance of a lifetime.”

Most young leaders admit to learning management skills on the job with inadequate training. There’s also a high turnover rate in the management of small to medium arts organisations due to “burnout” and the lack of support for personal career development.

The jam-packed residential schedule, commencing Wednesday 27 April, focuses on skills such as decision-making, leadership, business and risk management. Participants will also explore strategy, marketing and fundraising and a range of communication techniques.

Management specialist Graeme Gherashe will lead a team of facilitators including senior consultant Dr Kaye Remington, marketing specialist Craig Tapper and Louise Walsh of Council’s Artsupport Australia.

A panel discussion on running successful arts organisations will feature Catherine Baldwin from Bangarra Dance Theatre, Libby Christie from the Australia Council, Bill Gillespie formerly from the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Patrick McIntyre from Sydney Theatre Company.

Special facilitated interview and discussion sessions will be held with former NSW premier Bob Carr, speaking on political process and the arts in Australia, as well as Australia Council Chairman, James Strong AO and CEO, Kathy Keele, discussing influence and advocacy in the arts.

“The program is like cramming an MBA into five days!” said Tony.

“Much of it is focused on the leap in skills and outlook needed between managing a small to medium sized arts organisations and large arts organisations in an increasingly dynamic and complex social and business environment.” 

Building arts leadership is a strategic priority across the Australia Council.  It was identified as a key need in the sector plans developed by each of Council’s artform boards; and the Council is currently conducting research into the characteristics of effective arts leadership and opportunities to better develop it.  The Theatre Board in February also distributed cultural leadership grants worth $280,000 to individuals and to organisations. 

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