The visionary Women Leaders South West (WLSW) leadership training programme has reopened for applications.
The programme, which seeks to address the gender imbalance in senior roles in arts organisations was paused in March 2020 due to Covid-19 and its impact on potential applicants and partners. It will reopen (this month) September with a search for a cohort of women to be part of driving change at a critical time for the sector.
The Women Leaders South West project is run by a group of eight arts organisations: The Point Eastleigh (lead partner); Activate Performing Arts; Art Asia Ltd.; Diverse City; Kaleider; Pavilion Dance South West; Strike a Light; The Arts Development Company; and Southampton Business School. The companies are based across Dorset, Devon, Hampshire and Gloucestershire.
It also involves the global The WOW Foundation movement, known for its Women of the World (WOW) Festival, which celebrates women and girls and takes a frank look at the obstacles they face. An Arts Council England Transforming Leadership grant is funding the project.
Women are underrepresented at leadership level across all art forms in theatres, festivals, galleries, and museums. According to 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.”
Racism, Ableism, Transphobia, homophobia, economic constraints and caring responsibilities also create barriers to career development and leadership opportunities.
The WLSW project will recruit 16 women associates for its leadership training programme. The offer includes: mentoring, a learning exchange with associates and hosts; a living allowance/training bursary to cover ten months of training; additional support with individual access needs such as BSL interpretation, support worker, travel costs, childcare; online and face-to-face training and career development opportunities with Southampton Business School; and connection with women from across the world through The WOW Foundation and Jude Kelly who started the organisation.
Sacha Lee, Artistic Director at The Point, said: “WLSW wants to understand the barriers to leadership, develop tools to tackle them and remove some of the obstacles women face in becoming leaders in the arts. We want to challenge people’s ideas of what a leader is, support all ideas and voices, bring excellence, excitement and strength to the arts and learn together with women from all backgrounds”.
The programme is estimated to commence in January 2021 and run through until October 2022.