£7.1m boost for diversity arts leadership

Arts Council England has invested more than £7m in a new leadership development scheme.

Eighteen projects in museums, libraries and arts organisations across England are sharing £7,140,989 from the National Lottery funded Transforming Leadership Fund to boost leaders at all stages of their careers,  including freelancers.

The fund has been launched to tackle specific issues around diversity across leadership, opportunities for emerging and early career leaders, and the development of executive skills at senior levels, with a number specifically addressing the underrepresentation of leaders from certain groups. 

Many programmes will deliver activity across the country, with 70% of all participants based outside the capital; others focus on developing leadership in specific places, recognising that appropriately skilled arts and cultural leaders can be instrumental in affecting economic and social change where they live and work.  

Main image: Graeae Theatre is leading a development programme for deaf and disabled leaders

“Our evidence tells us we have a generation of cultural leaders with great ambition, but also great pressures bearing down on them” said Mags Patten, ACE’s executive lead for workforce development.  “This fund is an investment in those leaders – offering them development opportunities that will give them time and space to think.

“By supporting a diverse range of emerging and established leaders we think we are more likely to achieve the vision laid out in our proposed ten-year strategy, of a country where everyone’s creativity is valued and high-quality cultural experiences are available to each of us."

Successful applications to the fund include: 

  • LeaD by Access All Areas, Disability Arts Online and Manchester Metropolitan University which will run a career development programme for learning disabled practitioners – one of three projects supporting deaf and disabled leaders, others being led by Graeae Theatre Company and Shape Arts.
  • Change the Record by Brighter Sound will develop female leaders in the music industry and enable cross-sector learning among organisations, sole traders and independent producers.
  • Clore Leadership’s New Horizons programme will explore the needs of cultural leaders at all stages of their careers, prioritising early career practitioners, entrepreneurs and sole traders, as well as progression routes for mid-career professionals and executive leaders.
  • Leading Libraries by Libraries Connected will support 15 emerging leaders from across 15 library services to deliver long term change, focusing on female and minority ethnic library staff
  • Coventry City Culture Trust will support a diverse cohort of established, independent and emerging leaders as part of the legacy for UK City of Culture in 2021, who will co-create a management training programme to help nurture a new generation of cultural entrepreneurs.
  • The Jerwood Transforming Leadership Programme will identify, develop and promote emerging leaders from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
  • The UK Creative Community Fellows Programme led by Derby Museums will help build an adaptable cross-sector network of collaborative leaders working at the intersection of arts, culture and community development. 

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