Learning about leadership

 1 February 2011

Amy Vaughan is Director of Operations at The Junction venue in Cambridge. She spent six months at the Royal Academy in London on a Cultural Leadership Programme Peach Placement to learn about leadership and arts organisation.

"When you're working in an organisation, particularly in the arts, it's highly emotional, it changes every single day and it's a real hand-to-mouth existence. Therefore you sometimes don't take time to really think something through, and you don't see the bigger picture, you're kind of up close and personal with things all the time."

Workforce development in the arts

"At the Royal Academy, I did some external research. I was basically going around the country, going to other cultural institutions and asking them how they approach workforce development, how they finance it.

What is cultural leadership?

"For me, cultural leadership is something that's very difficult to define, because everybody's idea of culture is so different, everybody's idea of a cultural leader is completely different. So for me, it's about leadership, it's not about tagging 'cultural' onto it.

"It's about, how do you go into an organisation and lead them to the best possible outcome for them? Because it's going to be very different in the Ikon Gallery than it is in Contact Theatre in Manchester. They're both cultural organisations but they've got completely different objectives and goals and finances and ways of being funded.

"So it's actually about leadership skills and being able to understand an organisation, taking a bit of time to step back, get some perspective and say 'What does this organisation need from me and how can I best lead it?' rather than 'I think it should be done like this'."

Outcomes from the Peach Placement

"How do you go into an organisation and lead them to the best possible outcome? Cultural organisations have completely different objectives and goals and finances and ways of being funded."

"What the placement did for me was allow me to go into an organisation where I had one specific task. And that was looking at the organisation from a distance and getting a really good perspective on where it needed to change, what things I could implement, what things I could recommend they implement.

"It had a much more distanced feel about it, and there was time to plan and to think about things. So what I'm trying really hard to bring back here is that idea that you have to step back from things sometimes."


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