Leadership Programs FAQ's

Perhaps you have a question about our Leadership Program? You can find here some of the most frequently asked questions for the following programs:

  • Custodianship Program
  • Arts Leaders Program 
  • International Leadership Program
  • Future Leaders Program

General FAQ's

  • What happens in the leadership programs?

    Across all our programs, you will attend a series of intensive residentials. Together with a group of other participants, you will travel to a regional location in Australia and stay for up to 5 days. For Arts Leaders, the second residential will be held in Indonesia. There are also virtual online sessions to reconnect with the group and to explore topics between the residentials.

    During the program you will participate in a range of activities both indoors and outdoors to build your skills, capacity and confidence. Grounded in generosity and listening, we tackle the big issues and opportunities faced by our sector. The programs are designed to explore new ways of thinking and enact the potential of the arts for change.

  • What is a residential?

    A residential is a 4-5 day learning session in a range of locations across Australia (and in Indonesia) which you attend with other participants in the program. The residentials are not a professional development conference. Instead, they are an opportunity for the group to come together, share ideas, listen, collaborate and develop new ideas. The residentials are an opportunity to take time out of your day-to-day practice to reflect, refuel and learn about leadership.

  • Where do the residentials take place?

    Our residentials take place in regional Australia (apart from the second Arts Leaders residential, which will take place in Indonesia). We choose regional locations for a number of reasons; to spend time learning in Country with traditional Custodians, to slow down, rest and rejuvenate and to allow for new perspectives and knowledge-sharing to occur in a non-urban environment. A regional context also offers alternative solutions to arts and cultural practice that may not be available in the urban sector.

    The Custodianship residentials aim to occur in regional and urban context, providing opportunities for developing diverse ways of knowing, being and doing in various settings. 

    You will be notified of the first residential location shortly after you have been selected for the program, and the second/third location will be announced at the end of the first/second residential. For more information about travel to residential locations, please see the relevant FAQ.

  • Who facilitates the leadership programs?

    The Future Leaders and Arts Leaders programs are led by a lead facilitator and supported by a range guest speakers and co-facilitators throughout the program. The program is guided by and grounded in a commitment to First Nations cultural knowledge, and this is a core component to the learning and design of the residentials. You can find out more about our facilitators on our website.

    For more information about who facilitates the Custodianship Program, please see the Custodianship FAQs below. 

  • How much do the leadership programs cost?

    Successful Future Leaders and Arts Leader applicants pay an administration fee of $300 per residential. We encourage you to contact us for financial support if required, as no applicant is discouraged from applying due to financial reasons.

    Successful International applicants are supported by Australia Council and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and are not required to pay the fee. Travel to all residentials will be supported for all International participants.

    Successful Custodianship applicants are supported by Australia Council and are not required to pay the administration fee. Travel to all residentials will be supported for all Custodianship Program participants.

  • Do I have to pay for my own travel to each residential?

    Participants are required to pay their own travel expenses; however financial assistance is available for Australian participants who require it for access reasons or if you are travelling from a remote area. Please get in touch with us to discuss further.

    Travel to the Indonesia residential will be supported by an Australia Council travel bursary for all Arts Leaders participants.

    Travel for international participants is supported by the Australia Council (see International Leadership Program).

    Travel costs associated with the Custodianship program will be waived for participants of this program. 

  • Do I have to pay for my own accommodation and food at residentials?

    No, Australia Council will cover these costs for all participants. We will accommodate you in your own private room for the length of the residential and will cover the cost of your breakfast, lunch and dinner during this time. Additional extras (such as espresso coffee and mini-bar items) are at your own expense.

  • What will I get out of the Leadership Program?

    Previous participants of all our programs tell us that they experience:

    • - enhanced skills, capabilities and knowledge to survive, adapt and thrive
    • - deeper insight into what makes a great leader
    • - stronger capability to lead an evolving arts sector
    • - strong networks and relationships with others working in the arts sector, nationally and internationally.

  • I have access and additional needs to participate - how can the Australia Council support me?

    We want to ensure inclusive learning for all and are committed to providing a safe and accessible program for everyone. We work with individual participants to support specific needs. If you have access requirements, a young baby or family, cultural practices or any other specific needs, please let us know how we can best support you through the application stage as well as throughout the program.


    Easy English
    We have developed an Easy English Guide for our leadership programs. Easy English combines text and images to convey information simply and directly, supporting people who have difficulty reading and understanding English.
    Download the Easy English Guide. 

  • Registering with Australia Council for the first time?

    Please click on the 'Create an Account' button to register for access to our Application Management System (AMS). When your registration is approved, you will receive an Australia Council email containing your login information. This will give you access to our AMS, and then apply for our Leadership Program. Make sure you register well before the closing date. It can take up to two business days to process your registration.

  • I can’t find the Leadership Program application form?

    Once you have created an account, and successfully entered our Application Management System (AMS), select 'Apply for a Grant' from the left panel menu. Then under ‘Leadership Program’ click on the button ‘Apply for the Australia Council leadership programs here’. From there, select the program you wish to apply for. If you are an International applicant, you must first select whether you are applying for Future Leaders Program or Arts Leaders Programs. If you are not ready to submit your application you can return to it through 'Your draft applications' in the left panel menu at a later date.

  • More questions?

    If you cannot find an answer to your question in this booklet or would like to talk through any access requirements you may have, please feel free to send us an email at leadershipprogram@australiacouncil.gov.au or call us directly on 02 9215 9058. We look forward to hearing from you!

Custodianship Program FAQs

  • What is the Custodianship Program?

    The Custodianship Program is designed by First Nations leaders for First Nations leaders to transform sustainability in culture, practice, community and the arts. The program brings together 12-15 First Nations participants to take part in a twelve-month program from February 2020-November 2020. The first year will be the pilot of the program.

  • Who is the Custodianship Program for?

    The Custodianship Program is for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, arts workers and cultural practitioners from across art forms and Australia. The program will encourage participants who are at various stages of their careers and are ready to reflect on their skills, capabilities and what leadership and custodianship means to them. The program encourages learners who are open to new ideas, able to learn in a group situation and an ability to share knowledge and insights with others. Participants who have roots with their custodianship responsibilities and want to learn more about enacting a vision for their communities.

  • When do the Custodianship residentials happen?

    The Custodianship Program has three residentials:

    • - 6-11 February 2020

    • - 14-19 May 2020

    • - 5-10 November 2020

    The residentials are compulsorily so please make sure you can attend all three residentials. Please allow travel time on either side of the residential.

  • When do the Custodianship online/phone sessions happen?

    The Custodianship Program will have four online/phone sessions:

    • - 30 January 2020

    • - 7 May 2020

    • - 29 October 2020

    These dates may change but we will notify participants in advance if so. If you have access requirements, please get in touch so we can assist you.

  • What is the structure of the Custodianship Program?

    The program will include:

    • - three intensive residentials. Each residential runs between 4–5 days, held in various locations around Australia including but not limited to urban, regional and remote location.

    • - four online/phone sessions to reconnect and explore topics in more depth.

    • - peer-to-peer engagement throughout the duration of the program.

    • - access to ongoing opportunities through our Leadership Alumni program, including potential collaborations and secondments.

    • - participation in group work to deliver a project at the end of the program.

    • - ongoing participant engagement via an online platform.

  • What will I get out of this program?

    Participants of the program will:

    • - transform their own leadership by building on strengths and exploring what custodianship and leadership means to them

    • - learn about First Nations ways of guiding and apply practices that have been cultivated over thousands of years

    • - develop practices and knowledges through the study of both contemporary and cultural knowledge systems

    • - expand skills and capabilities to effectively lead in both a First Nations and non-First Nation contexts

    • - build a broader network and ongoing relationships cross cultures, sectors and industries.

  • What costs are covered by the Australia Council?

    The Australia Council will cover fee and travel cost associated with the Custodianship Program. 

  • Who facilitates the program?

    The facilitation is led by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person. The lead facilitator has a deep knowledge in guiding First Nations leadership development.

    To support and grow the facilitation of the program, a collective of co-facilitators will work together to deliver aspects of the program. This collective approach will also bring diversity of thinking (including non-Indigenous, if required) that will in-turn, benefit participants. The facilitators will be announced in late 2019.

  • Who are the Elders in Residence?

    The program will aim to create deep cultural meaning. To enrich the participants learning process further, Elders will be engaged to provide cultural guidance throughout the program.

    Two Elders, a man and a woman, will be appointed to provide support during both the design and the delivery of the program. It is envisaged that these Elders will initially be engaged for a 12–month period. The Elders in Residence will be announced in late 2019.

  • More questions?

    Please feel free to contact Ian RT Colless, First Nations Project Officer, Capacity Building who is coordinating the Custodianship Program. Ian has been working closely on the program’s development for the past year.

    You can contact Ian by phone or email – details below.

    Phone: 02 9215 9059

    Mobile: 0435 781 891

    Email: I.Colless@australiacouncil.gov.au

    Toll-free: 1800 226 912

Arts Leaders Program FAQs

  • What is the Arts Leaders Program?

    The Arts Leaders Program is a professional development opportunity, which brings together a mixed cohort of 20 Australian and 5 International participants to take part in a twelve-month program from April 2020-April 2021.

  • Who is the Arts Leaders Program for?

    The Arts Leaders Program is for mid-career to established arts workers, directors, producers and managers working in an organisation, independently or in community. We normally recommend that people who apply for the Arts Leaders Program are in 10+ years of their career. The program is for people working across a range of art forms, including music, dance, theatre, visual art, literature, film, community arts and multi arts.

  • When do the Arts Leaders residentials happen?

    The Arts Leaders have three residentials:

    • - 30 April-4 May 2020
    • - 11-18 October 2020 (Indonesia)
    • - 15-20 April 2021

    The residentials are compulsorily so please make sure you can attend all three residentials before you apply. Please allow travel time on either side of the residential. 

  • When do the Arts Leaders virtual online sessions happen?

    The Arts Leaders have four virtual online sessions:

    • - 7 July 2020
    • - 8 September 2020
    • - 24 November 2020
    • - 2 March 2021

    These dates may change but we will notify participants in advance if so. The virtual sessions online will be conducted using Zoom video conferencing. Please contact us if you have any access requirements to use video conferencing.

Future Leaders Program FAQs

  • What is the Future Leaders Program?

    The Future Leaders Program is a professional development opportunity, which brings together a mixed cohort of 20 Australian and 5 International participants to take part in a twelve-month program from May 2020-May 2021. Future Leaders also have the opportunity to complete a 4-week secondment with an organisation of their choice.

  • Who is the Future Leaders Program for?

    The Future Leaders Program is for emerging arts workers, directors, producers and managers working in an organisation, independently or in community. We normally recommend that people who apply for the Future Leaders Program are in the first 10 years of their career. The program is for people working across a range of art forms, including music, dance, theatre, visual art, literature, film, community arts and multi arts.

  • When do the Future Leaders residentials happen?

    The Future Leaders have two residentials:

    • - 23-27 July 2020
    • - 26-30 November 2020

    The residentials are compulsorily so please make sure you can attend both residentials before you apply. Please allow travel time on either side of the residential. 

  • When do the Future Leaders virtual online sessions happen?

    The Future Leaders have two virtual online sessions:

    • - 12 May 2020
    • - 12 September 2020

    These dates may change but we will notify participants in advance if so. The virtual sessions online will be conducted using Zoom video conferencing. Please contact us if you have any access requirements to use video conferencing.

  • What is a secondment?

    Future Leaders participants are invited to apply for a supported secondment opportunity at an Australian or International arts organisation of their choice, at the end of their residential program. The secondment is a unique professional development opportunity to explore different aspects of arts leadership and to learn from others in a new working environment. The Australia Council will assist with providing introductions and financial support for up to a 4-week period.

International Leadership Program FAQs

  • What is the International Leadership Program?

    The International Leadership Program is a fully supported scholarship program for arts professionals from eligible Indo-Pacific countries to join either the Arts Leaders or Future Leaders programs in Australia. International Leaders also have the opportunity to complete a 4-week secondment with an organisation of their choice in Australia.

  • Who is the International Leadership Program for?

    The International Leadership Program invites applicants from Indonesia, India, China, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, The Philippines, Vietnam, Fiji and Samoa. Applicants may decide to join either the Arts Leaders Program or Future Leaders Program, depending on their background and experience. 

  • What level of English proficiency is required to participate in the program?

    Participants will be required to participate fully in discussions, workshops and presentations. All activity will be in English and no translation will be available. Successful applicants will be required to satisfy ‘Functional English’ proficiency. You can read more here: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-support/meeting-our-requirements/english-language/functional-english

  • Do I have to apply for a Visa?

    Yes, successful applicants will need to apply for a subclass 407 Training Visa. This Visa will be sponsored by the Australia Council once you have been notified that you have been selected for the program. Visa’s must be finalised within an agreed timeframe, before the start of the program, otherwise your participation in the program may be cancelled. Successful applicants will need to satisfy the eligibility of this Visa, found here: https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/training-407#Eligibility

  • What other costs are covered by the Australia Council?

    The Australia Council will cover the following costs for each program:

    • - return economy class flights from your home city to a relevant Australian or international capital city to attend the residential workshops (Arts Leaders x 3 trips and Future Leaders x 2).
    • - accommodation during residential workshops, plus up to 3 nights of accommodation in the nearest Australian capital city prior to or following each residential.
    • - meals during each residential workshop
    • - per diem of AUD $80 per day towards meals and expenses for non-residential days.
    • - on the ground transport in Australia, including transfers to and from residentials.
    • - travel and health insurance for the length of the program.
    • - course materials and access to an online learning platform.
    • - flights, accommodation and per-diems during your secondment.

  • When do the International Leadership residentials happen?

    International applicants may choose to join the Future Leaders Program or Arts Leaders Program residentials. Please see the dates for the residentials in the relevant FAQ.

  • When do the International Leadership virtual online sessions happen?

    International applicants may choose to join the Future Leaders Program or Arts Leaders Program residentials. Please see the dates for the virtual online sessions in the relevant FAQ.

  • What is a secondment?

    International participants are invited to apply for a supported secondment opportunity at an Australian arts organisation of their choice, at the end of their residential program. The secondment is a unique professional development opportunity to explore different aspects of arts leadership and to learn from others in a new working environment. The Australia Council will assist with providing introductions and financial support for up to a 4-week period.

  • I can’t see the International Leadership Program when I click apply?

    You first need to select the program that you wish to apply for: Future Leaders Program or Arts Leaders Program. International applicants are invited to join one of these two programs. After this question, you will be asked if you are an Australian citizen or resident. When you answer ‘no’ here, it will take you to the eligibility criteria for the International program.

How to apply for the Leadership Program FAQs

  • How do I apply?

    We ask that you submit your application form through our online grants and application system, accessed through this link.

    If you haven’t used our system before you will need to create a new account and follow the instructions to complete the online application form. If you need help with this, please email or call us.

    Please select on your application form if you are applying for the Future Leaders Program, Arts Leaders Program or International Leaders Program.

    You should include a short introductory video (optional for Australian applicants), a written response to four questions and your current resume. Please refer to the selection criteria before submitting your response.

    If you have access requirements or cannot complete the online form, please contact us for alternative ways to apply by emailing leadershipprogram@australiacouncil.gov.au or calling 02 9215 9058. We are very happy to discuss different options with you.

  • When is the deadline?

    The deadline for applications is midnight (Sydney time) on the closing date. We strongly recommend submitting before this. Application advice and technical support is only provided during business hours and up until 5.00pm on the closing date. Late applications will not be accepted.

  • Do I have to submit a video in my application?

    As an Australian applicant, you do not have to, but we highly encourage you to consider including a short video as it gives the assessors an insight into you and your arts practice, what you are passionate about and your past experience.

    As an International applicant, it is required that you submit a video as part of your application.

    Please make sure the video is no longer than 3 minutes. You can submit your video as a URL link or upload it to your online application form. 

  • I don’t have any cameras or editing software, how can I make a video?

    Your video is not assessed on quality or production value, and you can film this on your phone, webcam or computer. Please make sure we can see your face at some point and the audio is clear. These videos are designed to see how you talk about yourself and your engagement with the cultural sector in a more natural manner than a written response.

  • What support material do I need to include with my application?

    In addition to your introductory video, please also include a 2-page resume of your experience and expertise. You do not have to provide any references or letters of support to your application.

  • How will my application be assessed?

    Your application will be assessed internally at the Australia Council and with the advice of industry experts and leaders. Applications will be assessed on merit, and in relation to the selection criteria provided. Please respond to the selection criteria in your application.

    The leadership program is designed to bring together a diverse range of arts workers from around the country and we work to ensure a balance between geographic locations and artforms. This will be considered in the assessment process.

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people with disability and people living in regional and remote areas are encouraged to apply.

  • When will I be notified about the outcome of my application?

    Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application approximately 12-weeks after the closing date. Please see the guidelines page for the grant category you are interested in for more details.

  • I have completed an Australia Council Leadership program in the past – am I still eligible to apply?

    Emerging Leaders Development Program (ELDP) and ACCELERATE alumni are welcome to submit an application for the Arts Leaders Program but will not be eligible for the Future Leader Program. Sync Alumni can apply for either program.

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