ACCELERATE is a tailored leadership skills development programme. It's designed to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders working within the creative industries with the skills and networks to generate, take up and excel in leadership positions.

The programme is aimed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across Australia who have at least five years’ experience in the creative industries and can demonstrate a bold vision for where they want to take their career and their community. 

In its sixth successful year, ACCELERATE has been instrumental in discovering a pool of talent deep and wide in Indigenous culture as a new generation of leaders comes to the fore in Australia. This year, the selection panel has identified five more outstanding mid-career professionals ready to move in to senior leadership roles across the arts and creative industries.

The participants of the 2015 ACCELERATE programme are: 

  • Marcus Corowa – a musician from New South Wales
  • Carly Sheppard – a dancer and choreographer from Victoria
  • Emma Loban – a visual arts and museums curator from Queensland
  • Teagan Cowlishaw – a fashion designer from Western Australia
  • Angela Flynn – a producer and arts manager from South Australia. 

The five participants were selected from a nation-wide call for applications and were announced as part of a special celebration held at Sydney’s Carriageworks on 1 September 2015. For more information about the event, see our media release.

The first part of the programme involved intensive leadership training in Australia in September. Delivered by visiting UK expert Mark Wright of People Create, the training aimed to enhance the participants’ understanding of their own leadership styles as well as providing them with the practical skills necessary to develop their career pathways.

The group then travelled to the UK in November 2015, where they underwent mentoring and professional development placements with high-profile individuals and organisations in their artistic fields. While there, the group was busy travelling across the UK visiting some of the country's top festivals, museums and arts companies. They were able to use the time to utilise creative skills, draw upon their rich cultural knowledge base, and develop valuable international relationships with other creative leaders. 

Carly Sheppard found the trip to be an experience of growth. "ACCELERATE really did fast track the work I really wanted to do in understanding who I am and what I do," she says. 

Marcus Corowa found the experience equally life-changing. "I’ve learnt so much about the music industry and also about myself," he says. "I have come away from the programme hugely inspired and with a real sense of clarity and focus about where I am heading in my career."

British Council Director Helen O’Neil says, “ACCELERATE helps the new generation of emerging creative leaders reach the next stage in their careers. By drawing upon connections with the UK’s vibrant creative industries, it presents a unique opportunity for Indigenous Australians to not only utilise their creative skills and draw upon their rich cultural knowledge base, but also to develop valuable international relationships with creative leaders. Each year, we see participants successfully using their ACCELERATE experience to flourish in artistic leadership positions.”

ACCELERATE has been instrumental in fostering innovative UK-Australian collaborations and helping the new generation of emerging creative leaders reach the next stage in their careers. Over the years, ACCELERATE has attracted some of the most diverse and talented individuals from the arts sector in Australia. The programme now boasts 29 alumni in total, including leading curators, producers, artists, musicians and writers. You can find out more about past alumni here.

ACCELERATE 2015 is presented by the British Council and the Australia Council for the Arts in partnership with Arts NSW, Creative Victoria, Department of Culture and the Arts WA, Arts Queensland, British Airways and SBS NITV, with additional support from BT Global Services and Carriageworks.

About the 2015 programme

The 2015 ACCELERATE programme comprises two stages: the Australian Leadership Intensive and the UK Programme.

Australian Leadership Intensive: Wednesday 2 – Friday 4 September, 2015

Immediately after the announcement event on September 1, the four participants attend a Leadership Intensive in Sydney to develop their understanding of leadership and to expand ideas for their individual UK programmes. 

Over three days, participants will undertake facilitated workshops that will explore what leadership means in UK and Australian contexts, and discuss what it means to be a leader within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Participants will also gain practical leadership skills that will help them to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of their own personal leadership styles, outline sustainable and ambitious career pathways and identify the personal and professional obstacles to achieving them.

Sessions will be led by with Mark Wright from People Create, British Council staff and ACCELERATE Alumni who will share their experience, advice and support. 

UK Programme: November 12 – December 7, 2015

The UK Programme provides an opportunity for recipients to make international connections, to observe different leadership styles and structures and to gain broader insight into their own field and professional practice.

In 2015, the ACCELERATE UK Programme will include:

  • Two days further leadership development with Mark Wright (People Create) 
  • A professional placement with company/organisation
  • Group and individual meetings, including one-on-one mentorship

Individual programmes will be developed to realise the vision outlined in the participants’ application.  They are expected to research organisations and individuals of interest and articulate what they want to achieve from meeting with them.

“ACCELERATE is definitely a life changing experience for someone wanting to take the opportunity it offers. I’d highly recommend it.  You have to put in the effort – it’s a working program, so you have to want it, and be looking for change.” -- 2013 Recipient


ACCELERATE - Developing Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander leaders

“It really does accelerate your career and your understanding of where you want to take your career as a leader, whatever part of the creative industry you’re in.” -- Solomon Booth, 2013 Recipient

ACCELERATE is a tailored leadership programme designed to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with the skills and networks to generate, take up and excel in leadership positions within the creative industries.

In its sixth successful year, ACCELERATE provides leadership development training, industry mentorship and a fully funded trip to the UK. The programme offers participants a chance to fast-track their careers and develop as leaders in their field. 

Participants join the national ACCELERATE alumni network, with access to continued support, training, and international opportunities. 

This year, alumni will curate an international gathering of First Nations leaders in arts and culture, scheduled for April 2016. They also will come together at a national leadership development intensive in September. For the first time this year, alumni can apply for an International Collaboration Fund for new creative projects with connections in the UK.

ACCELERATE is open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from across Australia with at least five years' experience in the creative industries. We are looking for people with a bold vision for where they want to take their career and their community.

Applications for ACCELERATE are now closed and will re-open in 2016. Watch this space for further updates.