Arts Leaders Program

For mid-career and established arts leaders

Welcome to Country with Uncle James Ingram for the 2020 Arts Leaders residential in Wagga Wagga. Photo taken by the Wiradjuri Ceramic Mural, created by artists Rachelle Mascini, Amanda Gay, Chris Helyar, David O’Neill and youth from the Riverina Juvenile Justice Centre. Credit: Australia Council.

The Arts Leaders Program is designed to transform the cultural and creative industry’s knowledge by developing skills and capabilities of established leaders.

The program brings together a group of diverse practitioners to engage with current and relevant themes affecting the future of the industry.

Information Sessions

This session will be a hybrid event held online and in-person in Adelaide, South Australia

Friday 5 November 2021

1:30 – 2:15pm ACDT | 2:00 – 2:45pm AEDT


In Person: Flinders University, 182 Victoria Square, Adelaide SA 5000

Digital: Online via Zoom

Delivered in partnership with OzAsia Festival.

About the Arts Leaders Program

The Arts Leaders Program takes place over 12-months and involves three interconnected residentials that will take place either in-person, hybrid and/or digitally, with online learning moments in between.

As a participant in our programs, you will join a cohort of mid-career and established arts leaders working within organisations, independently or in community.

The Arts Leaders Program is a personal and professional development opportunity – it will enhance your skills and capabilities, develop your networks and provide a platform for growth.

Through facilitated discussion, knowledge exchanges, workshops and on Country learning with First Nations Elders, Arts leaders will collectively explore the current challenges and opportunities presented within our industry. The program will be tailored in response to the needs of the group.

We have developed a residential model that adapts to the changing times and supports a new, hybrid and more equitable way for us to exchange. Our programs are designed to be flexible, while still delivering the experiences and values that are core to our work.

​​​​​We recognise that for most of us, the in-person experience is our default preference, yet for many it is a barrier to participation. In 2022-23 we are planning for our leadership program residentials to take place in-person in regional Australia, however depending on travel and border restrictions, we may need to adapt the residential to an online or hybrid gathering instead.

If you have access requirements, travel concerns or another reason that means your preference is to join the residentials in a hybrid or digital way, we encourage you to reference this in your application so that we can work with you to develop alternative models of participation.

For more informational please refer to the Arts Leaders FAQ.

“The links between interior and exterior worlds were a constant motif. The time spent with Uncle James was so valuable and the fact we had time to listen and learn outside of a lecture theatre or meeting room was priceless.”

2020 Arts Leader participant


Frances Robinson,
Manager Capacity Building
+61 2 9215 9058

The Arts Leaders Program is for mid-career to established arts leaders with over ten years’ experience in the sector. The program is open to arts leaders working within an organisation, independently or in community.

We encourage applications from applicants who are Australian citizens or permanent residents. International applicants must be based in one of the nine eligible countries to apply. If you are unsure of your eligibility, please get in touch.

We are looking for applications from across the cultural and creative industry, both in Australia and selected countries in the Indo-Pacific region.

You can submit your application via our online application system. If you have access requirements, please let us know how we can support you.

Your application should include a short introductory video, five written responses to the questions as well as your CV as support material. Please refer to our FAQ section to determine if your video submission is mandatory.

Video response

  • Introduce yourself and tell us why you do what you do
    We’d like to get to know you! Submit a short video message (up to 3-minutes max) to tell us about yourself. What has been your journey? Why are you passionate about the cultural and creative industry? What are your aspirations for the future? Or anything else you’d like to share.

Written response

  • Why do you want to participate in this program and why now?
    What has led you to apply for this program? What is your motivation for participating? In this question, we want to know how this program connects to your personal and professional development. This is not a job application – we are looking for potential rather than assessing your achievements to date.
  • What does your leadership practice look like?
    Leadership is not just a position, but a practice. In this question, we are interested in understanding your approach and practice of leadership; in your community, in your arts practice, in your organisation and in your daily life.
  • Tell us about a time that you worked collectively with others.
    Our programs bring together leaders from a diversity of artforms, cultural backgrounds and geographical locations. We create safe spaces to encourage open, generous, and collaborative approaches to learning. In this question, share your experience of a relationship or exchange that has been an important leadership moment for you.
  • Tell us about how you advocate for the cultural and creative industries.
    Strengthening the creative industry’s profile and public value is critical for the arts to not only survive, but to thrive in the current context. In this question, we encourage you to reflect on the role you play in enhancing the public value of the cultural and creative industries.
  • Share your reflections on how you have adapted to change over the past eighteen months?
    COVID-19 has undoubtably had a significant impact on the arts and cultural landscape, yet we have also seen the crucial role that creativity plays in developing new ways of adapting practices. As we are likely to continue to face disruptions, we are interested to know how you have responded and adapted to change.

Applications will be reviewed internally and alongside industry advisors. We will assess applications against the following assessment criteria, and in line with Australia Council’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

  • Timeliness and relevance of the program to the applicant’s development.
  • An active and reflective approach to leadership development.
  • Ability to engage with diverse ways of learning and connecting with others.
  • Commitment to advocacy and improving the sustainability and wellbeing of the arts sector.
  • An adaptable and open approach to managing change.

For more details about the application and selection process, please refer to the FAQ section.

Diversity And Access: Leadership Program

The Australia Council is committed to increasing the diversity of leaders in our sector and encourages applications from people who identify as First Nations, from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people with disability, and people living in regional and remote areas.

We actively work with individuals to support access needs – including childcare, cultural practices, financial and/or learning access needs as required. We encourage applicants to contact us via phone or email to discuss further. diversity in leadership.

Easy English
We have developed an Easy English Guide for our leadership programs. Easy English combines text and images to convey information simply and directly, supporting people who have difficulty reading and understanding English.
Download the Easy English Guide.

Professor Judith McLean is currently Chair Arts Education (QUT/QPAC) and Scholar-in-Residence (QPAC). She has extensive Board experience and is currently a company Director at Queensland Tourism and Events. In this role, Judith chairs the events business which focuses on sport, lifestyle, arts and cultural policy and practice (2009-). She was also on the board of Asia Pacific Screen Awards (2009-2013); Chair, Southern Cross Soloists (2009-2015); Inaugural Chair of Major Brisbane Festivals Pty Ltd  (2003-2007) and Chair & Board Member of Queensland Theatre Company (1995-2004).

Judith works in the performing arts, events and education areas as an educator, director, executive coach and company director. Over the past 13 years she has led management and executive leadership programs in corporate settings, including the health, defence, financial, media and public sectors.


Arts Leaders Program FAQs

The Arts Leaders Program is a professional development opportunity, which brings together a mixed cohort of national and international participants to take part in a 12-month program from July 2022-July 2023.

The Arts Leaders Program is for mid-career and established artists and arts workers from across the cultural and creative industries working within an organisation, independently or within community. We recommend that people who apply for the Arts Leaders Program have been in their career for ten or more years. This includes cross-industry experience. The program is for people working across a range of art forms, including community engaged practice, dance, digital arts, film and radio, literature, music, multi arts, theatre and visual arts. If you’re still not sure which program is best suited to you, we encourage you to reach out by email or phone.

A residential is a five-day intensive experience that may take place in-person, online or hybrid, depending on COVID-19 restrictions at the time of the residential. The program is designed and led by our core facilitators and responds to the needs of the group. The residentials are not a professional development conference, rather they provide time and space for the group to connect, collaborate, listen, and hear from key guest speakers. We encourage you to use the residentials as an opportunity to re-focus, invest in your development, feel nourished and plan for the future.

The Arts Leaders have three residentials:

  • Residential 1: 28 July – 1 August 2022
  • Residential 2: 9-13 February 2023
  • Residential 3: 28 July – 6 August 2023

The residentials are compulsorily so please make sure you can attend all three residentials before you apply.

Travel restrictions permitting, our residentials will take place in regional Australia. We choose regional locations primarily to spend time learning in Country with Custodians, to slow down, rest and rejuvenate and to allow for new perspectives and knowledge-sharing in a non-urban environment.

You will be notified of the first residential location shortly after you have been accepted into the program, and the second and third locations will be announced at the end of the first residential.

In 2022-23 we are planning for our leadership program residentials to take place in-person in regional Australia, however depending on travel and border restrictions, we may need to adapt the residential to an online or hybrid gathering instead.

We will provide at least four weeks’ notice ahead of the residential if this occurs. It is highly unlikely that we will postpone any residential dates due to COVID-19 and are confident in our ability to produce high quality, connected residentials in hybrid ways.

That is completely understandable! If you have access requirements, travel concerns or another reason that means your preference is to join the residentials in a hybrid or digital way, we encourage you to reference this in your application so that we can work with you to develop alternative models of participation.

The Australia Council and other partners support participants to undertake the Leadership Program – an investment of approximately $3,000 per participant for each residential.

The fee that we ask you to cover is $300 +GST. This accounts for a small portion of the above investment and helps to ensure the viability of the program into the future. Fee subsidies are available for any participant that requires financial support.

We’ll look after everything else for you, including On Country learning, facilitation and guest speakers, your accommodation, ground transport, program resources and all meals for the duration of the residential.

International participants are supported by Australia Council and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and are not required to pay the fee. Border restrictions permitting, travel to residentials will be supported for all International participants.

Participants are required to pay their own travel expenses or seek support from their organisation (if applicable). Financial assistance is available for Australian participants who require it for access reasons, if you are an independent practitioner or if you are travelling from a remote area, including Western Australia. Travel expenses should not be a barrier to any participant interested in applying and we encourage you to contact us to discuss your travel requirements.

Border restrictions permitting, travel for international participants is supported by the Australia Council and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

No, Australia Council will cover these costs for all participants. We will accommodate you in your own private room with a bathroom for the length of the residential and will cover the cost of your breakfast, lunch and dinner during this time. Additional extras (such as espresso coffee and mini-bar items) are at your own expense. Per diems are not included.

Should travel not be possible, the Australia Council will cover costs to support your successful participation in the program, including tech requirements, accommodation in your own city (COVID-19 restrictions permitting) and daily meal expenses.

The Arts Leaders have two virtual online sessions:

  • 18 November 2022
  • 27 April 2023

These dates may change but we will notify participants in advance if so. The virtual sessions online are two hours in duration and will be conducted using Zoom or Gather Town. Please contact us if you have any access requirements relating to connecting virtually.