Nurturing Strong Leaders To Shape Singapore's Bourgeoning Arts Scene

The National Arts Council Singapore and British Council launch first Organisational Leadership Development programme for Singapore’s arts organisations 


Singapore, 11 January 2016 – On 14 January, the National Arts Council Singapore (NAC), in partnership with the British Council, will launch Lead The Way, an inaugural two-part Organisational Leadership Development programme, specially designed for emerging leaders within Singapore arts institutions. This programme is the first of its kind in Singapore, aimed at developing the leadership capabilities of executive leaders who manage or head an arts organisation. 


2          This programme is the first of a series of initiatives to be rolled out as part of the British Council-NAC Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Drawing on the UK’s long cultural history and the expertise of the British Council’s Cultural Skills Unit[1], Lead the Way is designed to offer participants the opportunity for cross-sharing of knowledge with industry experts and leaders from the UK. The programme was conceptualised with advice from the Clore Leadership Programme[2], a highly reputed cross-disciplinary fellowship programme in the cultural and creative sector.


3          Says Mr Paul Tan, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of NAC, “Since the announcement of the Arts and Culture Strategic Review[3] in 2011, NAC has been steadily ramping up efforts to develop artistic leadership within Singapore’s arts sector. The programmes we have launched to date, such as the NAC Cultural Fellowship[4] and the Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) Diploma in Arts Management[5], have focussed mostly on developing individual competencies of arts practitioners and professionals. Lead the Way is our first programme that spotlights organisational leadership. And as the first initiative under our partnership with British Council, it is fitting that we start with an effort that centres on strengthening our arts ecosystem, learning from some of the best and most experienced professionals in the UK arts scene.”


4          Says Mr Simon Dancey, Director of the British Council’s Cultural Skills Unit, “The British Council is proud to help develop mutual understanding, encourage knowledge and expertise sharing and build international cultural relations through the development of dynamic partnerships. We welcome this partnership with the NAC, and look forward to working collaboratively to deliver skills and capability development opportunities across various art form areas for Singapore.”


5          He adds, “The Lead the Way workshops will provide talented emerging leaders and innovators within the Singapore arts scene with the support and resources to develop professionally, build their networks and apply learning in a practical way to benefit themselves and their business. The British Council and NAC share a commitment to cultivating the skills and expertise within the cultural sector, and look forward to delivering joint programmes to realise these aims.”





6          Comprising two four-day workshops conducted in Singapore from 14 to 17 January and 9 to 12 June respectively, Lead The Way will cover topics that are critical to the management of an arts organisation. Participants will be introduced to key concepts and engage in rigorous discussions of case studies. They will also have the opportunity to put their newly acquired skills and knowledge to practice through action planning and developing an organisational business plan.


7          Key speakers from the UK for Lead the Way include cultural experts and leading professionals in the UK’s arts sphere. They include Ellen O’Hara, Kully Thiarai, and Tom Wilcox, who bring with them years of experience in arts business consultancy and leadership management. In addition, established arts and business leaders from Singapore will be invited to speak and provide participants with a holistic view and perspective of their own organisation. The speakers will share case studies and best practices applied with an understanding of the challenges and issues faced by Singapore arts organisations in our home-grown market. For profiles of the Lead the Way speakers, please refer to Annex A


8          Says Ms Ellen O’Hara, the programme’s lead consultant and a 2014 Clore Fellow, “Lead the Way has been designed specifically with Singapore's emerging cultural leaders in mind and with input from the Clore Leadership Programme, a pioneer in leadership development for the sector. The programme brings together the latest thinking in cultural leadership and management practice and will introduce participants to a range of innovative tools to develop thriving arts organisations.” 


9          She adds, “The trainers are all thought leaders in their respective fields with personal experience of developing and sustaining arts organisations in the UK. I’m thrilled to be collaborating with Tom Wilcox and Kully Thiarai to deliver Module 1 of the programme and we are all very much looking forward to sharing our expertise with the programme participants and partners. Lead The Way also affords us the valuable opportunity to learn from and build long-lasting networks with the arts ecology in Singapore."


10          The NAC expects 15 participants for this inaugural course, comprising Executive Directors, General Managers and company managers from various arts organisations and companies in Singapore. For details on the programme, please refer to


11          Lead the Way is the first initiative to be rolled out under the auspices of the British Council-NAC Memorandum of Understanding, which was signed in March last year between the two Councils to strengthen cultural ties between Singapore and the UK. Upcoming initiatives include an Arts and Disability Forum in Singapore slated for the first quarter of 2016, and exchanges and apprenticeship programmes between Singapore and UK arts institutions to explore opportunities for partnerships and mutual learning.


[1] The British Council’s Cultural Skills Unit:

[2]The Clore Leadership Programme (UK):

[3]The Arts and Culture Strategic Review report:

[4] NAC Cultural Fellowship programme 2013:

[5]EHICE WSQ Diploma in Arts Management:


Annex A: Profiles of Lead the Way speakers