The future of creative leadership

 20 March 2015

What does the future hold for creative leadership and how can women effect change in the landscape? Creative leaders came together to discuss their thoughts for The Legacy List's Emerging Legacy Leaders East programme.

Leadership in the cultural and creative sector

Laura Haynes, chairman of Appetite and trustee of The Legacy List

"There are things that make the creative and cultural sector quite different in that every day people are involved in the act of creation and the act of innovation. 

The creative sectors are different in that it’s not a job to many people, it’s a calling.

"They need to change what they are doing to be successful. Equally the people involved are involved quite passionately in the work they are doing and so the creative sectors are different in that it’s not a job to many people, it’s a calling." 

Alistair Spalding, artistic director and chief executive of Sadler’s Wells

"Sadler’s Wells is a business and so is like other businesses – it has the same kind of issues and requirements. In addition we have the extra responsibility, or delight, of creating art and also playing a part in the cultural life of our city."

Sue Hoyle, director of Clore Leadership Programme

"Putting creativity right at the heart, and creativity being the driver of what you do, means that you’re prepared to be surprised and surprise other people. And risk is part of everyday life. So I think people that work in culture are really good at facing up to and handling risk."

Challenges for the sector and its leadership

Pauline Tambling, chief executive, Creative & Cultural Skills

"It’s quite a difficult time for the cultural sector. In the subsidised sector money is being cut all the time and so a lot of organisations who have been used to public subsidy are needing to change their business models very quickly.

We need cultural leaders who are able to think in new ways and be quick on their feet.

"In the wider range of the world in creative industries we’ve got digitisation, we’ve got  huge global changes in terms of how culture is created, big issues around big data, audiences and selling tickets and all those things.

"So I think the most important thing is to be agile and to be able to make change quickly to respond to the external world."

Dr Gus Casely-Hayford, cultural historian

"I think particularly now with the way in which funding has changed and the way in which the political landscape is so fluid, we need cultural leaders who are able to think in new ways, to be quick on their feet, to find new alliances and be able to look ahead and think about where they are going to be irrespective of the challenges to funding, irrespective of the changes in the political landscape. And that takes a great deal of strength and foresight, but it also takes an understanding of the cultural sector."

How can women leaders effect change?

Clare Connor, director of business development, Southbank Centre

It’s important that we see more women in key positions and in the board rooms of our cultural organisations.

"In the last decade, a lot of women are setting up their own businesses and doing extremely well because they can create those businesses on their terms.

"There’s much to learn here about that, and what will be interesting is to see how those organisations evolve under those women because they haven’t inherited those businesses from men."

Sue Hoyle, director of Clore Leadership Programme

"It’s interesting to see that some women are forging ahead with new models of leadership, not only in a more collaborative approach to the way they lead, but actually looking at working patterns, looking at ways in which leadership responsibility should be shared, which means different structures, but also questioning things like the long working hours culture that exists."

Maria Delgado, professor of theatre and screen arts, Queen Mary University of London

"I think it’s really important that we see more woman in those key positions and more women in the board rooms of our key cultural organisations, so that women’s agency is being recognised, it’s been listened to and women have the space to be able to initiate shifts and changes. 

"Just look at what Jude Kelly has done at the Southbank Centre, she’s made that a really vibrant space, she’s introduced some extraordinary things like the ballroom."

Dr Gus Casely-Hayford, cultural historian

"Being in institutions where there are women running down the hierarchical backbone of the organisation and watching those organisations thrive and find new ways of building partnerships, new ways of reaching out into communities, has been deeply inspiring.

"It’s just the beginning. Women are just beginning to find the foothold that’s been long overdue in leadership, and I get the sense it’s going to be a golden period for the culture sector as we explore that more."

An i say RAAR film by Emma Crouch. This video formed part of The Legacy List's Emerging Legacy Leaders East programme.