Rani Pramesti is a proud Chinese-Javanese-Indonesian-Australian woman. Before jumping heart-first into the arts, Rani practiced as a social worker in homeless shelters and refugee support organisations in Sydney. Now, as a performance maker, an arts producer and an advocate for the arts, Rani revels in the interface between social justice and the arts. She builds bridges across cultures, generations and disciplines. To join our next cohort of future leaders, apply before September 28 .
Rani shares her experience so far in the Future Leaders Program.
1. What do you understand ‘cultural leadership’ to be?
For me personally, cultural leadership is about knowing what your priorities are, where your circles of influences lie and what feels most urgent and important to respond to right now. Cultural leadership then involves making decisions in a way that aids in the flourishing of the communities I care about. So, for example, one of my priorities is to serve as a bridge across Indonesia (my country of birth) and Australia (my adopted country). My circles of influences include the artistic communities that I am a part of in Narrm (Melbourne) as well as with a growing group of young, digitally engaged communities across Indonesia. Currently it is an election year in Indonesia and once again inter-faith and inter-racial tensions are colouring the nation-wide campaigning. This feels like something that is in most urgent need of responding to. So one of my actions as a cultural leader has been to create my first digital graphic novel, Chinese Whispers, which directly speaks out against politically motivated racism. Even though making and distributing this work in the current political context is risky, I am committed to doing it so that the communities I care about across Indonesia and Australia can flourish for the better. You don’t have to please everyone. It is important to prioritise financial well-being as well as creative well-being. The two can support each other…
You don’t have to please everyone. It is important to prioritise financial well-being as well as creative well-being. The two can support each other…
2. What do you think is the most important trait for a cultural leader?
Humility. This is still one I struggle with given I can have quite the ego! However, I am slowly learning that ego actually gets in the way of change, as you can become too convinced of your own perspectives. This resistance of course then gets in the way of growth.
3. What advice would you give your past self or someone else about leading others?
You don’t have to please everyone. It is important to prioritise financial well-being as well as creative well-being. The two can support each other… Your responsibility is to keep putting energy into what you care about and trust that this will be directed to where it is meant to bear fruit.
4. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing arts leaders today?
The undervaluing and lack of understanding by our communities about the role of art in our lives: that art is actually a human need and a human right, rather than a luxury or an optional recreational activity. Art builds community. Art is pleasurable (and pleasure is a crucial part of life). Art is emotional and psychological expression. Art connects people through stories. None of these things are a luxury. They are absolutely essential to being healthy and well.
5. Are there any resources that you turn to, or have drawn leadership inspiration from?
I am still finding illuminating insight from one of our set readings for the Arts Leaders program: “Delusions of Gender” by Cordelia Fine.