Pilot programme

Funded through the Cultural Leadership Programme’s Meeting the Challenge initiative, the Extend pilot aimed to support mid-career professionals working in education and learning roles in the creative arts. The programme was managed by Engage and overseen by a steering group comprising senior professionals representing a range of artforms.

The programme, which came to an end in March 2011, has been subject to external evaluation

The programme began in March 2010. Applications were open to mid-career professionals either employed or self-employed who worked in the arts sector in an education or learning role and were able to commit fully to each element of the programme.

Eleven candidates were selected (seven from England, four from Scotland) representing a range of art forms including visual arts, dance, combined arts and literature.

The programme was made up the following key components:

Personal development planning

At the beginning of the Programme, successful candidates were asked to complete a Personal Development Plan outlining their aspirations and priorities for the duration of the programme. They also completed a Skills Inventory. This exercise was repeated at the conclusion of the programme as a means of measuring distance travelled.


Two residentials were held:

The first took place from 11 14 May 2010 in Leeds and aimed to:

  • Enable participants to meet each other and to build a sense of joint endeavour
  • Introduce participants to Steering Group members (Steering Group members attended and participated in the residential)
  • Give participants the opportunity to explore the fundamentals of leadership theory and to interrogate and analyse these
  • Encourage participants to reflect on their own experiences of leadership and to begin to identify the hallmarks of effective leadership

Participants’ reflections

As a steering group member I found participating very beneficial. It informed my understanding of leadership styles and of who can be a leader. This influenced … our [funding] bid.

I enjoyed the chance to work on individual challenges in a group with people from wide variety of organisations.

[The programme] enabled an ‘opening up’ for me over the 4 days, I went on a journey working out professional difficulties, with a great group of people.

The second residential took place in Birmingham on 8 & 9 December 2010 and was focused on the following themes:

  • Action planning to take leadership forward
  • Enabling participants to share learning which emerged from the Extend programme
  • Developing resilience in times of change and challenge

Participants’ reflections

Making it here and wanting to come back made me value the experience more and the opportunity to share and exchange with a new set of colleagues.

Understanding and believing I am not alone in the sector. I now have some goals in place.

Felt more personalised and deeper, more relevant maybe this reflects my journey development.

Great to see the group again, 100% retention rate is really excellent.

Mentoring and placements

Through the personal development planning process, participants were encouraged to begin to identify the types of mentors and placements which might best enable them to achieve their individual goals, as set out in their plans.

Following the Extend residential in Leeds, participants were asked to refine their ideas regarding mentoring and placements. Individual conversations then took place with each participant to finalise mentoring and placement arrangements. Participants were encouraged to clearly specify the benefits and expectations of placements for both themselves and placement providers.

Key themes which emerged include:

  • A significant proportion of participants chose to spread their five day placement over two or more organisations
  • One placement was action research-based with the Extend participant supporting a local school in developing its new gallery space
  • Two further participants have chosen to carry out short research-based projects interrogating aspects of leadership rather than engaging in traditional work placements
  • Placement providers and Mentors cover all artforms and include Manchester International Festival, the Liverpool Biennial and National Theatre of Scotland
  • Two participants chose to be mentored by an Extend Steering group member.

Placements could take a number of forms:

  • One project-based placement
  • An opportunity to shadow a leader in the sector
  • Short placements in more than one organisation

Whichever model participants opted for, placements had to be aligned to leadership and be meaningful to both the placement provider and to the Extend participant. The placement was also required to tangibly contribute to achievement of participants’ personal priorities.

Case Studies

A range of useful leadership development resources can also be accessed via the Cultural Leadership Programme website.

Participants’ reflections

Looking in on an organisation was fascinating and realising the different organisation structures and approaches, meeting new people. Mentoring helped to think through why I do things, to pick my battles and plan realistically, not to think I need to do it all. Good place for reflection.

Mentoring [was] really positive, helped crystallise thinking and drew out learning.

The placement was a great opportunity to see how another organisation works and [gave] space to reflect away from my own organisation.

My placement challenged and expanded my understanding of different leadership models, providing examples of excellent leadership that promotes and enables successful and engaging community arts projects. I left feeling uplifted, motivated and inspired.

The Cultural Leadership Programme was delivered by Arts Council England, Museums Libraries and Archives Council, and Creative and Cultural Skills. Meeting the Challenge supported cultural organisations to explore and develop leadership models that support highquality creative practice. Four places were made available through Creative Scotland funding.