We're delighted to announce the 2016 participants of the tailored leadership skills development programme, ACCELERATE.

ACCELERATE is a designed to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working within the creative industries with the skills and networks to generate, take up and excel in leadership positions. The programme is aimed at Indigenous arts professionals 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. 

The 2016 selection panel identified six mid-career professionals ready to move in to senior leadership roles across the arts and creative industries. The 2016 ACCELERATE programme participants are: 

  • Jilda Andrews – a curator and singer from Australian Capital Territory
  • Kamarra Bell-Wykes – an arts manager and playwright from Victoria
  • Travis De Vries – an arts manager and writer from New South Wales
  • Glenn Iseger-Pilkington – a museums and galleries curator from Western Australia
  • Francoise Lane – a designer from Queensland
  • Jonathon Saunders – an illustrator and arts worker from Northern Territory 

The six participants were selected from a nation-wide call for applications and were announced as part of a special celebration held at Melbourne's Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre on Tuesday 16 August 2016. 

They will now progress to the first stage of the programme, where they will take part inthree days of facilitated workshops to explore their understanding of leadership and further develop ideas for their bespoke UK professional placements. The group will then travel to the UK for three weeks in November this year, where they will develop their skills in consultation with high-profile individuals and organisations in their artistic fields.

On completion of the programme, participants form part of the national ACCELERATE alumni network, with access to continued support, training and international opportunities.

In its seventh 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. 

British Council Director Helen O’Neil says, “By the end of this year, ACCELERATE will have been instrumental in shaping the careers of 35 incredibly talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander creative leaders. It has been successful in developing long-lasting links and opportunities between arts practitioners in Australia and the UK and in creating career pathways for future generations."

The Australia Council for Arts is a founding partner of the initiative and continues its support in 2016. Lydia Miller, Executive Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts at the Australia Council, says, “Keeping culture strong is one of the most universally important human endeavours. It requires recognition and support for the Indigenous cultural leadership and investment in the development of vibrant communities. The Australia Council is pleased to collaborate with the British Council on ACCELERATE as an important platform for First Nations arts leaders to develop their skills and engage in global dialogue.”

ACCELERATE 2016 is presented by the British Council and the Australia Council for the Arts in partnership with Arts NSW, Arts NT, Arts Queensland, Creative Victoria and Department of Culture and the Arts WA with additional support from SBS NITV. 


The 2016 ACCELERATE programme comprises two stages: the Australian Leadership Intensive and the UK Programme.

Australian Leadership Intensive: Wednesday 17 – Friday 19 August 2016

Immediately after the announcement event on August 16, the five participants will attend three days of intensive training workshops to develop their understanding of leadership and to expand ideas for their individual UK programmes. 

Over three days, participants will undertake facilitated sessions that 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, with support from British Council staff and ACCELERATE Alumni who will share their own experiences and offer advice to the new cohort. 

UK Programme: November 11 – December 5 2016

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

In 2016, the ACCELERATE UK Programme will include:

• Two further days of leadership development training with Mark Wright (People Create) 

• Professional placements with leading UK organisations and institutions

• Group and individual meetings, including one-on-one mentorship

Individual programmes will be tailored to realise the vision outlined in the participants’ applications.  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 participant

“It was an incredibly intense programme but in the best possible way.  I was able to confront issues that had been troubling me about my career, in a positive proactive manner, with excellent resolutions or at least with progress. But I also realised that I don't need to have all the answers now as long as I remain focussed on my purpose.”

- Angela Flynn, 2015 participant

Yirama Yangga-na ("Spirit Singing")

In July 2016, First Nations arts leaders from around the world came together at a cultural leadership forum produced and presented by alumni of the ACCELERATE leadership and development programme. Yirama Yangga-na (a local Dharawal phrase meaning “spirit singing”) was a three-day creative laboratory and cultural event held at the University of Wollongong, connecting Australian Indigenous creatives with First Nations delegates from Taiwan, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Canada and New Zealand. 

The forum provided a platform for leaders to share, interrogate and develop their knowledge about Indigenous creative leadership and cultural practices. Issues discussed included the de-colonisation First Nations art; artistic freedom versus cultural taboos; and participation, understanding and acceptance of First Nations arts practicies in the international arena. Find out more here.