Theatre Board of the Australia Council for the Arts Announces New Cultural Leadership Skills Development Grants

Australia ( February 28, 2011

Theatre Board of the Australia Council for the Arts Announces New Cultural Leadership Skills Development Grants

Theatre Board of the Australia Council for the Arts Announces New Cultural Leadership Skills Development Grants

The need to develop arts leaders is being addressed by the Theatre Board of the Australia Council for the Arts, which today announces new grants to help emerging leaders develop and share the skills of cultural leadership.

The Theatre Board has awarded two producers and four theatre makers Cultural Leadership Skills Development grants to pursue  secondments, residencies, mentorships, training, community consultation, research or other development opportunities over two years. It has also given Cultural Leadership Program grants to organisations with clear ideas and programs to develop and distribute leadership skills.

The new Theatre Board program is part of a current Australia Council Strategic Priority to build arts leadership skills across artform sectors and the business and artistic planning skills of our artists and arts organisations.

“Arts leaders are people or organisations who make a difference in the cultural landscape,” says the Australia Council’s Director of Theatre, Lyn Wallis. “They are ‘go to’ people capable of sharing their leadership skills with other potential leaders and they’re adept at creating an environment that is culturally engaging, diverse and inclusive.”

Australian producers, theatre makers and performers typically develop their cultural leadership skills on the job, leaving little time to pursue professional development opportunities.

“The arts sector as a whole recognises the need to strengthen its leadership capacity, particularly within fragile parts of the sector, to ensure a sustainable future,” says Lyn Wallis. “The cultural leadership grants give producers, theatre makers and performers the opportunity to take time out to develop leadership skills relevant to their practice and, we hope, eventually bring to our theatre-making a far greater cultural diversity.”

Melbourne producer John Harvey will use his Cultural Leadership Skills Development grant to investigate protocols for Torres Strait Islander theatre projects and collaborate with Torres Strait Islander practitioners in making new theatre work. Victorian theatre maker Rand Hazou will create a series of theatre initiatives between Palestine and Australia including an internship with Al-Kasaba theatre and a new documentary theatre work.

In Sydney, Performance Space will use its Cultural Leadership Program grant to offer a sustained period of professional development for members of Field Theory – a collective of artists working in Live Art. The work will include mentoring, development and the documentation of this emerging arts practice, in which a growing number of artists explore the intersection of activism, social engagement and onsite performance.

Melbourne’s St Martins Youth Arts Centre will give up to ten emerging artists the opportunity to participate in its Catapult program, in which the artists will spend a year being developed as cultural and creative leaders and then be responsible for determining the future program of the company for young artists.

Cairns-based Just Us Theatre Ensemble (JUTE) will help create a network of cultural leaders in regional Australia by sharpening the ‘dramaturgical eye’ of up to 18 directors and producers in regional centres through workshops with dramaturg Peter Matheson. The six companies participating are located in regional Queensland, as far north as Darwin, and south to Launceston.

“We have awarded grants to a diverse and interesting group of individuals and organisations. This is not a one-size-fits-all approach, but a flexible program designed to draw out innovation,” says Lyn.

Cultural Leadership Skills Development grants were awarded to: John Harvey (Vic), Rand Hazou (Vic), Rachel Swain (NSW), Leisa Shelton (Vic), Deborah Leiser-Moore (Vic) and Karen Terese Smith (NSW).
Cultural Leadership Program grants were awarded to: the Australian Circus and Physical Theatre Association (Vic), JUTE Theatre (Qld), St Martins Youth Arts Centre (Vic) and Performance Space (NSW).

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