13 February 2009

China and Singapore welcome UK’s cultural talent

Four rising culture professionals from around the UK are leaving for overseas work placements this month as part of the Cultural Leadership Programme, a Government-funded initiative which is promoting leadership excellence and diversity in the cultural and creative sectors.

The four awardees, three women and one man, have beaten stiff competition to be awarded the three-month leadershipplacements in China and Singapore. They will have responsibility for delivering a range of projects on everything from business planning and marketing, dance production and curating at the Beijing Modern Dance Company, the 501 Arts Centre, Chongqing , Theatreworks Singapore and the National Museum of Singapore.

The Powerbrokers international leadership placements are specifically aimed at emerging and mid-career cultural leaders from black, asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. They offer hands-on experience and encourage ‘learning through doing’. The initiative combines two of the Cultural Leadership Programme’s objectives; using international exchange to enrich UK cultural leadership and breaking down the barriers that are stopping professionals from ethnic minority backgrounds reaching the top or senior positions of cultural organisations.

David Kershaw, CEO of M&C Saatchi and Chairman of the Cultural Leadership Programme, said: “A key challenge the cultural sector faces today is ensuring its leaders better reflect the rich diversity and talent of our communities. This scheme offers an invaluable chance to support the development of emerging cultural leaders, allowing them to develop broader skills within an international context to achieve maximum impact for themselves and their organisations. "

Hilary Carty, Director of the Cultural Leadership Programme, said: "These international placements provide a priceless opportunity for talented individuals to deepen their understanding of themselves as leaders outside of a UK context. The challenge of working within an international cultural environment will allow the awardees to focus on developing new skills and knowledge to progress their careers in the cultural sector."

The awardees and their placements:

Harpreet Kaur
Beijing Modern Dance Company, Beijing, China: Associate Producer

Harpreet said: “I am very excited about working with and learning from Mr Zhang Changcheng and Beijing Modern Dance Company. The opportunity to work on international projects in an arts organisation abroad has long been a dream of mine, and to be able to do this in a country in rapid transition and growth is a hugely exciting prospect. I am honoured to have received this award that I’m sure will have an ever lasting impact on my life in terms of my personal growth and career development.”

Harpreet is a freelance arts manager with expertise in marketing and audience development as well as events programming, project conception and delivery in; education, community, events, production, and more recently of dance development. She has worked for organizations in London and Birmingham including Southbank Centre to Sampad South Asian Arts. Harpreet will be working with Beijing Modern Dance Company on development strategies and creative projects within the international performance programme and the 2009 International Modern Dance Festival. Valerie Chang 501 Arts Centre, Chongqing, China: Marketing and Development Associate Valerie said “This is an exciting and challenging once-in-life time opportunity to work in a creative environment with contemporary visual artists and academics from China. My aim will be gain a deeper understanding and knowledge of Chinese contemporary art and culture in China and explore my leadership potential, developing new strategies and cross cultural collaborations with the Director, Yan Yan to increase 501 Arts Centre’s visibility in China and Internationally. My ambition is to become a remarkable leader, leaving ‘footprints’ behind and making a difference where ever I go” Valerie is a freelance consultant, curator and artistic producer specialising in the visual arts, in the public, independent and higher education arts sector. She has over 20 years of experience and gained a successful reputation curating exhibitions in the Visual Arts for public museum and galleries. Entrepreneurial in approach, she developed her consultancy ‘Creative Impact’. Valerie is currently a consultant to the Museum of London. She has developed innovative projects and contemporary exhibitions at South London Gallery, Pitzhanger Manor Museum and Gallery in London, the Mayor of London’s Office, Royal Academy of Arts, Thames Valley University and Horniman Museum (2007-2008) and left a legacy and curated a stunning art installation “The Mirrored Community.

Selina Papa
Theatreworks Singapore: Business Development Associate

Selina said: “This is a fantastic, unprecedented opportunity for me to discover, explore and develop my management and leadership skills within the context of a new work environment. Developing the Theatreworks business strategy will also broaden my understanding of the unique challenges faced by long-established, pioneering arts organisations in an international context.”

Selina has dedicated her work to organisations with diversity, inclusion and access at the heart of their mission. In 1999 she managed the Cambridge University GEEMA programme, which raised the educational aspirations of young people from BME backgrounds via school and college-based teaching programmes. Since 2001 she has been Head of Operations at one of the UK’s leading intercultural arts organisations, Cultural Co-operation, and has played a key role in developing arts and music-based projects and creative networks which foster intercultural dialogue and understanding, including the Music Village Festival and the London: Diaspora Capital network.

Nilesh Mistry
National Museum of Singapore: Associate Curator

Nilesh said: “I am delighted to be awarded a placement at the renowned National Museum of Singapore which has vibrant and diverse programming. This opportunity will enable me to work with world class collections and staff enabling me to broaden my arts knowledge and to gain invaluable leadership skills training to pursue my ambitions. I will be exploring Singaporean cultural exhibitions for the UK market.”

Currently employed by Bradford Museums as the Museum Officer International Arts, Nilesh Mistry’s curatorial role is a key post for the development and engagement of the diverse communities of Bradford and beyond. Central to his work is the close connection between collection objects and the visitor experience for community cohesion and learning. Notable projects include contributions to Connect the major re-visioning and launch of the permanent displays at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery on October 2008, the curation of three exhibitions for Pillars of Light a project which ran alongside and complimented the National Festival of Muslim Culture, 2006/2007 and Moving Minds Project engaging young people with museums.

The four awardees will be sharing their experiences at www.culturalleadership.org.uk

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