Cultural leadership courses & programmes survey abstract

This desktop survey was undertaken as part of the needs assesment for the project. The final results do not claim to be a definitive record of all such courses and programmes available globally but it is safe to say they do give a good indication of what is available at this point in time to the arts and culture sector with regard to leadership training and development.20 relevant cultural leadership courses and programmes were found worldwide: USA 5, UK 5, Netherlands 4 and Germany, Singapore, Cambodia, Canada, Spain and Sweden, 1 each. The organisations that manage these courses and programmes range from universities to private companies. Of the 20 responsible organisers, 6 are nationally or regionally funded, 5 are universities, 4 are private companies, 3 are schools, 1 is a college and 1 a foundation. Content and methodologies vary widely, which also reflects the differing views of leadership and its role in developing culture and, indeed, society in general. Common themes, however, are: professional development, how to be successful in one’s chosen field and in-service training.

The intended participants for these courses and programmes are either specifically targeted groups or are open application to international participation: 9 have open international calls and the remaining 11 have a local, regional or community of interest focus. Of these, only 3 are aimed at students or early career entrants, while the remaining 17 require applicants to be professionals with leadership experience. Entry requirements vary, with three requiring at least 5 years experience, one 8 years and one 10 years. The remainder are a mix of open call (9) and specific entrance requirements that are related to a local focus e.g. North Africa and the Middle East (6). Outside of 2 accredited university programmes, none require any formal educational certification in order to join. The cost of the courses and programmes also vary widely, running from free to €53,000 (the latter a masters programme). There is no standard or average with respect to cost.

The first thing that is clear with regard to this survey is that there are very few dedicated arts and cultural leadership courses or programmes available, word-wide, compared to other types of training now available to the arts and culture sector. For this reason, and because the aims and the target audiences are so disparate, it is hard to reach many defining conclusions. Further, leadership is often confused with management and sometimes what is called leadership training is actually management training. It is also the case that most courses and programmes do not define what they mean by leadership but, rather, describe their intended outcomes, which can be broken down under two main headings: personal development and wider cultural development. Personal development is variously described, for instance as ‘leaders who want to realize their full potential’ or ‘develop personal leadership skills’ and cultural development covers a wide range of outcomes, such

as ‘to reshape creative and cultural institutions to better engage, educate and enrich community’ or ‘sustaining a vibrant arts community’.

Only 2 of the courses and programmes in this survey are accredited and most are set up either as a response to a specific need or as a general call by an independent group or company, as part of their private training portfolio. While the business sector has long recognised leadership in their training, accredited or otherwise, for arts and culture it is a relatively new concept and still does not feature as a priority for sector development, as is represented by the small number of offers included in this survey. However, this is beginning to change, as can be seen from the rise in the number of courses and programmes on offer since such training began to emerge in the early 1990s, even if the numbers are still small. This can also be deduced from a growing debate around the issue of leadership, which can be gaged from publications, conferences and interest from the sector itself. What is not so clear is the framing of the debate and how the broad spectrum of leadership might be developed with regard to common understandings and the sharing of knowledge around this topic, which even a cursory analysis of this survey shows.

What is apparent from this survey is that leadership is the poor relation of many other types of arts and culture training and development options. If leadership is a key component to the future growth, effectiveness and relevance of the arts and culture sector in society, then new methodologies and programmes for leadership are needed that can address both individual and organisational prerequisites for the sector’s development, particularly in the changing and very demanding environment we live in today.

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