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The University of Southampton

New ‘Transforming Leadership’ programme to clear career pathways for future female leaders in the arts

Published: 5 September 2019
The Point in Eastleigh
The Point Theatre, with Southampton Business School, will transform female leadership in the arts.

Entrepreneurial leadership and diversity management expertise from the Southampton Business School (SBS) at the University of Southampton will play a leading role in supporting and providing career pathways for future female leaders and entrepreneurs in the arts.

SBS is part of a new collaboration led by The Point Theatre in Eastleigh, near Southampton, and supported by funding worth £585,284 from Arts Council England (ACE). The collaboration, involving The Point, SBS and seven cultural organisations from Dorset, Bournemouth, Gloucestershire, Devon and Hampshire, will deliver a two-year SWarm Transforming Leadership programme, creating an inspiring and robust network in the South West.

SWarm will create legacy-driven work placements for 16 talented emergent women from a diverse range of backgrounds to explore new leadership and entrepreneurial career pathways in the arts. The partnership will focus on removing barriers for those who may otherwise struggle to find a way in, offering a twelve month-long development programme incorporating peer, formal and ‘on the job’ opportunities.

Louise Coysh, Associate Director (Arts & Culture) at the University of Southampton said: “Arts, culture and creativity are at the heart of our University, so it’s an honour to be involved in SWarm, an innovative programme that will enable a new cohort of female arts leaders to flourish in the South West region.

“Women are under-represented in leadership roles across the board and the arts and culture sector is no exception. The University of Southampton is committed to creating and supporting opportunities for everyone, regardless of their background or circumstances, to thrive and realise their full potential.

“Southampton Business School, with its specialist expertise in social inclusion, diversity, gender, enterprise, entrepreneurship and innovation, is uniquely placed to work with the SWarm participants, to increase their knowledge and confidence as entrepreneurs to develop essential skills that will be vital for them to build and sustain successful creative careers in the South West region.”

Ms Coysh added that the SWarm project is a perfect fit for the University as part of the Memorandum of Understanding signed with Arts Council England in 2018. In particular, she highlights that both Southampton and ACE were committed to supporting “new opportunities for talent development, increase skills and employability in relation to current and future needs of cultural and creative sectors, increase graduate retention, contributing to the city and region’s growing dynamic creative ecology and reputation internationally.”

SWarm will launch in October 2019 with an intensive residential with entrepreneurial training led by SBS Professors Mine Karatas-Ozkan and Yehuda Baruch. Karatas-Ozkan, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, is among the leading scholars worldwide in entrepreneurship and diversity and has carried out many nationally and internationally funded projects particularly on women entrepreneurship and leadership. Baruch, Professor of Management, has gained global recognition for his work on the careers of individuals and career systems while.

Professors Karatas-Ozkan and Baruch will also provide analysis of the programme and an impact study, alongside future sector-specific models and approaches to support a sustainable pathway for female leaders and the development of an authentic value system that brings business and arts closer together.  

Professor Karatas-Ozkan said: “We should all acknowledge that gender gap exists in business and entrepreneurship; to address this issue we educate and empower women to create social and economic impact through leadership and entrepreneurial careers. Our project will synergize unique expertise and experiences of all of the partners dedicated to advancing the gender acumen in enterprise in the arts and creating further collaboration opportunities for all stakeholders in the region”.

Professor Baruch said: “Contemporary career systems are dynamic and challenging, but entrepreneurship is a great career option for many. We hope and believe that this project will pave the way to enable more people to follow their path to career success.”

ArtsProfessional’s survey of pay and earnings 2018 revealed that only 31% of Artistic Directors of large Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisations are women men still paid 10.6% more than women in the arts.

Artistic Director at The Point, Sacha Lee said: “We are honoured and thrilled that SWarm will be one of the new Arts Council England Transforming Leadership pilots over the next two years. The conception and planning of this programme has already been a success in bringing together an inspiring group of female-led organisations in the South West.”

“To collectively tackle not only the gender imbalance that still exists in our sector, but to think about how the next generation of leaders will ‘have’ to be entrepreneurs and innovative pioneers, “Ms Lee continued. “This programme will seed an exciting network of women who live and want to work in the South West who will be able to lead us all into the future, safeguarding culture and the arts for future generations to come.”

The SWarm project partners are: Diverse City, Dorset; Pavilion Dance South West, Bournemouth; Strike a Light, Gloucestershire; Activate Performing Arts, Dorset; Kaleider, Devon; The Point, Hampshire; The Arts Development Company, Dorset; Art Asia, Hampshire and Southampton Business School at The University of Southampton.


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