The 18 successful bids include projects working with potential leaders from lower socio-economic backgrounds, and those with learning disabilities.

A photo of three people holding megaphones
A performance by Graeae Theatre Company
Photo: 

Garry Knight on Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Arts Council England has awarded more than £7 million of funding to support the development of diverse leaders in the arts.

The Transforming Leadership Fund has awarded 18 projects a total of £7,140,989. ACE decided to expand the fund's original £6m budget after receiving twice as much interest as it expected. The grants will support the development of leaders from museums, libraries and arts organisations.

It follows research commissioned by ACE that found an “increasingly high risk of burnout” among arts leaders, and said “more focus is needed on developing and supporting those at the top of institutions to welcome new voices”.

ACE said the fund “was launched to address specific issues around diversity across leadership, opportunities for emerging and early career leaders, and the development of executive skills at senior levels”.

Its statement added: “All the successful projects will carefully consider the diversity of their participants, with a number specifically addressing the underrepresentation of leaders from certain groups.”

National programmes

More than half the funding has been awarded to nine London-based organisations – although seven of these will be delivering programmes across England.

The Clore Leadership Programme will receive £1m for its New Horizons programme, which focuses on “the challenges of early careers” and “progression routes for diverse mid-career professionals”.

The funding will enable Clore to expand its current programmes in order to “support a dynamic cultural leadership ecology”.

Jerwood Arts has been awarded £844,955 for a programme focusing on the development of new creative leaders from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

The scheme will support a minimum of 85 participants. It involves the existing Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries as well as pilots for two new projects.

In the South West, The Point in Hampshire will receive £585,284 for its SWarm leadership programme for women in the arts. The partnership with the University of Southampton’s Business School is working with a group of eight female-led cultural organisations.

Disabled leaders

Three of the funded programmes focus on disability. LeaD, a project involving learning disabled theatre company Access All Areas, Disability Arts Online and Manchester Metropolitan University, has been awarded £283,512. It will create a career development programme for potential learning disabled leaders.

Graeae Theatre Company’s National Leadership programme for D/deaf and disabled early and mid-career artists will receive £300,000, while Shape Arts’ two-year programme has been awarded £185,000.

Libraries Connected’s Leading Libraries programme will receive £342,000 to support 15 emerging leaders from across 15 library services, focusing on female and minority ethnic library staff.

Mags Patten, Arts Council England’s workforce development lead, said: “Our evidence tells us we have a generation of cultural leaders with great ambition, but also great pressures bearing down on them.

“This fund is an investment in those leaders – offering them development opportunities that will give them time and space to think.”

She added: “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."

Increased budget

A spokesperson for ACE said: "We received a huge amount of interest in the fund and over double the amount of expressions of interest we had anticipated. In recognition of the strong applications received, it was agreed agreed to increase the Transforming Leadership budget by approximately £1million from our National Lottery contingency, in order to allow us to support a range of leadership development programmes that, together, offer the best opportunity to deliver the overall aims of the fund.
 
"The National Lottery contingency is set aside to give us the flexibility to respond to exceptional circumstances and help us meet our strategic priorities – the budget is agreed by National Council and our Executive Board is responsible for the approval of its use."

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