A musical career in three movements

Headshot of Kirsteen Davidson Kelly
30 May 2023

With a working life of more than 30 years, Kirsteen Davidson Kelly explores how her early career in performance has informed her present leadership role in the music world.  

New programme to boost disabled and neurodiverse leadership 

16 May 2023

A team of learning disabled and autistic creatives from Access All Areas have banded together to create a new national arts programme to train other learning disabled and autistic people working in the arts, as well as training staff at venues and organisations in inclusive leadership.

The team underwent two years of leadership training as part of Access All Areas’ Transforming Leadership programme, which finished in 2022.

Working with seven other disability arts companies, eight UK venues and leadership development organisations, they will launch the new programme on 19 June, to coincide with Learning Disability Week.

The new programme aims to counter the historic exclusion of learning disabled and autistic people from the UK workforce and shake up the landscape of arts leadership by involving them in strategic decisions and discussions around the art being made and the stories being told.

Creatives from Access All Areas will co-deliver leadership training for 14 other learning disabled and autistic creatives from seven UK companies. The training will focus on directing skills, how to lead community arts programmes, governance and advocacy skills.

Access All Areas will also train staff at eight UK venues and seven organisations in inclusive practice, to help overcome structural obstacles to inclusion for learning disabled and autistic at executive and board level.

Staff hit out at trustees over 'closure plans' for LADA

People attending a Wikipedia edit-a-thon at a Live Art Development Agency study room
11 May 2023

Open letter penned by staff at former NPO suggests organisation is being 'closed down' by trustees despite being offered funding by Arts Council England.

Opening up leadership to young expertise

A group of young people sitting on an among wooden boxes
09 May 2023

Rob Drummer is a man on a mission to cultivate change in the theatre industry for the benefit of young people. Here he shares why he's taking the bold step to appoint leaders under 25.

Redundancies at National Science and Media Museum

National Science and Media Museum, Bradford, with a statue of J. B. Priestley in front.
19 Apr 2023

The museum is set to close for 13 months to undergo a £6m upgrade, resulting in more than 20 front-facing staff being made redundant.

Formal probes into Coventry City of Culture Trust confirmed

Machine Memoirs
03 Apr 2023

National Audit Office and Charity Commission confirm inquiries into financial management of the charity, after ex-senior staff bypass meeting arranged by Coventry City Council for the second time.

Campaigners protest ongoing closure of Swindon museum

21 Mar 2023

Campaigners in Swindon calling for a museum to reopen held a tea party earlier this week to mark three years since its closure.

Swindon’s Museum and Art Gallery has been closed since March 2020, when the first Covid-19 lockdown measures were announced.

Since then, Swindon Borough Council has agreed to sell the museum’s former venue, Apsley House, to a property developer.

The museum was supposed to be rehoused in a new building, but Councillor Matty Courtliff said that inflation had increased contractors’ estimates, leading to a funding shortfall.

Linda Casmaty, Chair of the Friends of Swindon Museum, told the BBC that she was “disappointed and frustrated” by the situation.

“It's not fair on the people of Swindon – it has been identified as an area of low cultural engagement,” she said. “It could be 10 to 15 years before a new museum is built.”

Instead of funding a new building for the museum, Courtliff said the council was looking into installing the museum and art exhibits on the first floor of the town’s Civic Offices, but no timeline has been provided to local residents. 

Campaigners said that the town, which has a population of more than 220,000 people, currently has no art gallery and nowhere to display its art collection.

“You need to be able to see art, it's no use looking at it in a book,” Casmaty said. “We could get so many visitors if they would open this.

“I'm very keen that Swindon could become a tourist destination and this is one of the things we need.”

Creative decision-making is better shared

Group performing onstage
21 Mar 2023

There is, David Micklem hopes, a quiet revolution happening. A revolution in how our arts and cultural spaces are taking decisions about what they produce and present. 

North Shields theatre to reopen with new operator

21 Mar 2023

The charity that runs the Exchange Theatre in North Shields has announced that it will close the venue after failing to reach an agreement with the local council over the use of the site.

The theatre, café and bar is housed in the Grade II-listed Saville Exchange building, owned by North Tyneside Council.

It will close for up to four weeks from 17 April, while it undergoes a refit, before reopening with a new operator as part of the council’s plans to develop the town.

For the past seven years, the theatre has been operated by the Exchange Theatre charity. Tony Bridges, Chair of the charity’s board, said it had created a space to inspire future generations through the arts, ensuring the arts were accessible to all, not just to “one section of society”.

“It is with sadness that we are preparing to leave the building”, a spokesperson for the charity said.

John Sparkes, Director of Regeneration and Economic Development at North Tyneside Council, said that the building is key to plans for creating a vibrant “Cultural Quarter” in the town.

He added that the new operators, selected through an open tender process, were prepared to invest significantly in the building. 

“We'll be working closely with the new operator on the transfer of the building and look forward to seeing this cultural landmark flourish in the future”, he said.

Cultures of trust: Towards flexible and fearless organisations

People playing a trust exercise, half of them blindfolded
20 Mar 2023

Flexible working is a necessity if you want a workforce that’s diverse, inclusive and creative, says Sholeh Johnston

Theatre company announces four-day week plans

Group of people dancing
14 Mar 2023

A theatre company in Manchester will adopt a four-day week on a trial basis, becoming the second National Portfolio organisation to test out the idea.

Banishing imposter syndrome in diverse trustees

Z-arts pilot programme. A group of people standing/sitting together in a large room, posing for the photo.
13 Mar 2023

A Manchester arts centre for young people has been piloting a programme to support trustees from under-represented backgrounds to gain the skills, confidence and experience to take leadership roles. Liz O'Neill shares how it worked.

Co-leadership is key to diversity

Sara Wajid and Zak Mensah, Co-CEO's of Birmingham Museums Trust.
08 Mar 2023

In the cultural sector, leaders too often fail to reflect the diversity of society - in ethnicity, gender and disability. So, cultural organisations are losing out on the full range of leadership talent, writes Claire Antrobus.

Bullying bosses, broken boards and a crisis of accountability

The contour of an individual who appears to be a woman, standing in the darkness with a spotlight positioned behind her, creating a shadow that outlines her figure like a silhouette.
23 Feb 2023

Melissa Nisbett, Ben Walmsley and Emma McDowell have been conducting research on abusive leadership in the arts. Their findings will set alarm bells ringing across the sector.

What’s happening to sector support for marginalised people?

Simeilia Hodge Dalloway
22 Feb 2023

The latest in a series of closures of organisations supporting and advocating for diverse groups is cause for concern, writes Amanda Parker

Recognising women leaders

'Grace the Space', Green Space Dark Skies at Maiden Castle, Dorset. Individuals jumping in a field in the countryside.
21 Feb 2023

Transforming leadership has been one of ACE’s long-term ambitions. Kate Wood was part of a team that benefitted from that funding programme to transform the lives of women leaders.

Championing communities

Clore Leadership's Governance Now conference
15 Feb 2023

Clore Leadership has held its 5th conference addressing issues of governance in the cultural sector. The theme this year was championing communities. Jonathan Mayes reports on what emerged.

The making of future leaders

'Leadership' concept: lots of people in the bottom half of the image. Sun is shining to create many shadows. They are all following one person who is slightly ahead.
13 Feb 2023

Leadership in the arts has always been a vital component of the creative process. But, as Sean Hanly says, the key to successful leadership is laying the foundations for future leaders.

Frazer becomes Culture Secretary amid DCMS break-up

New Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer
07 Feb 2023

MP for South East Cambridgeshire to become sixth Culture Secretary in the last five years as Sunak breaks up Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Is your idea of leadership outdated?

A Black woman speaking to a mixed-race woman at a social event. The Black woman is wearing a tartan dress with her hair in a tight bun, while the mixed-race woman wears a white top & skirt and has her hair down.
06 Feb 2023

When picturing a leader, you might have a clear image of how they look, their age and the size of their company. But Lynn Blades thinks diverse talent is subverting the idea of leadership entirely. 


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