An award of £585,000 for a project designed to boost career pathways for future women leaders in the arts has been won by The Point, Eastleigh, in collaboration with seven South West based cultural organisations and the University of Southampton.
The funding is part of Arts Council England’s mission to tackle the gender imbalance in senior roles in arts organisations. According to trade title, Arts Professional (2018): “Only 31% of Artistic Directors of large Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisations are women. Men are still paid 10.6% more than women in the arts”.
Launching in October 2019, the two year SWarm project will see partners from Dorset, Bournemouth, Gloucestershire, Devon and Hampshire create a pilot for an inspiring and robust network in the South West. The programme will create work placements for talented women and explore new leadership pathways in the arts.
Through the recruitment of 16 talented emergent leaders from a diverse range of backgrounds, with a focus on removing barriers for those who may otherwise struggle to find a way in, the partnership will offer a twelve month long development programme incorporating peer, formal and ‘on the job’ opportunities.
Launching with an intensive residential, the programme will include entrepreneurial training from Southampton Business School at the University of Southampton. The academic partner will also provide analysis and an impact study, alongside future sector-specific models and approaches to support a sustainable pathway for women leaders and the development of an authentic value system that brings business and arts closer together.
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. 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.”
Eastleigh Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Social Policy, Councillor Tina Campbell, said: “It is excellent that The Point has been included in this significant award, which reflects its status as an important arts centre in the region. As a council we are committed to ensuring that cultural opportunities are accessible to all communities across our borough and it is important that we address the under-representation of women in senior arts roles. Happily, at Eastleigh we are bucking the national trend, as the higher management roles across our arts and culture team are occupied by women. We look forward to playing our role in taking the SWarm project forward.”
Jude Kelly CBE Founder and Director of The WOW Foundation said of the project: “This is an impressive, ambitious and ethically driven project that understands the need for home grown talent to develop commitment and loyalty to place. The South West region dreams big and WOW Foundation is excited to be bringing the international dimension to the table.”
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.