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International mentorship programme focuses on creating long-term change in the creative industries

BY Kate Murray | 20-Jan-2020
INTERSECT is a British Council and Diversity Arts Australia led knowledge exchange initiative setting out to address under-representation of artists, producers and curators from First Nations and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds in the creative industries
 International mentorship programme focuses on creating long-term change in the creative industries
Intersect participants during the UK knowledge exchange in September 2019, credit Anna Hay
Both the UK and Australia have an under-representation of artists, producers and curators from First Nations and CALD backgrounds in the creative industries. Diversity Arts Australia’s ground-breaking 2019 report Shifting the Balance, surveyed 200 of Australia’s leading arts and culture organisations, government and funding bodies, festivals and prize panels. It found that CALD Australians are underrepresented at the leadership level of every single sector. It’s a similar story in the UK, the Arts Council of England annual diversity report from 2019 found that people from a minority ethnic background make up 15% of staff at their National Portfolio Organisations and only 4% of staff at Major Partner Museums compared to 16% of the general workforce.

The British Council and Diversity Arts Australia led knowledge exchange programme, INTERSECT, is an international mentorship programme supporting long-term change to address this inequality.

Eight curators, producers and artistic directors from the UK and Australia are working with each other to share ideas and initiatives that are changing what work is seen on screen, in art galleries and on stage. The aim of programme is to foster connections between change makers in the UK and Australia.

“The under-representation of cultural diversity in the arts is an attitudinal, institutional and structural issue. The UK and Australia have similar barriers to inclusion in the arts, and the INTERSECT programme is an important initiative to share leading practice and provide support networks between our countries,” said Lena Nahlous, Executive Director at Diversity Arts Australia.

The upcoming Australian knowledge exchange will see the participants meet with industry leaders who have instigated change, including Sydney Festival Director Wesley Enoch and community cultural worker Dr Paula Abood. An important element of the knowledge exchange is the Australian participant’s host days, which are specifically curated to share their working context and new Australian initiatives promoting change in the creative industries.

“As a diversity advocate and speaker, I push for more diversity on- and off-camera”, said founder of Pearly Productions and 2019 INTERSECT participant Pearl Tan.

“INTERSECT allows me to meet with a cohort of peers whose experiences make me appreciate new lenses and approaches. It is exciting to learn from the UK participants to see what effective elements of their practice could be translated into an Australian context,” said Tan.

“By connecting programming decision-makers who have growing power and influence in the UK and Australian arts sectors, we hope to support platforms for art that reflect, resonate with and enrich our whole society,” said Helen Salmon, Director British Council in Australia.

About INTERSECT

INTERSECT is a British Council and Diversity Arts Australia led knowledge exchange, supported by Creative Victoria and Create NSW. The programme is aimed at curators, programmers, producers, publishers or artistic directors who identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or being from a culturally and linguistically diverse or minority ethnic background. Participants will take part in a knowledge exchange and peer-to-peer mentorship, travelling between the UK and Australia to share experiences and best practice with each other and their networks.

The participants of the 2019 INTERSECT programme are:
• Genevieve Grieves (Australia) - Artist, Curator, Content Creator and Educator
• Nur Shkembi (Australia) - Independent Curator, Writer and Emerging Scholar
• Pearl Tan (Australia) - Screen Content Maker and Educator
• Tian Zhang (Australia) - Curator and Arts Worker
• Melanie Abrahams (UK) - Independent Literature Curator and Producer
• Victoria Amedume (UK) - Director and Founder, Upswing
• Sharmilla Beezmohun (UK) - Director, Producer and Freelance Editor
• Cheryl Martin (UK)- Director, Writer and Performer