Tuesday 01 September 2015

Five outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts professionals have been announced as the 2015 participants of British Council’s annual leadership skills development programme, ACCELERATE. The participants will undergo tailored leadership programs in Australia and each travel to the United Kingdom for professional placements and mentoring designed to develop their chosen creative vocation.

In its sixth successful year, ACCELERATE provides Indigenous Australians 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 Islanders 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 participants announced for 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.

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 mid-career professionals ready to move in to senior leadership roles across the arts and creative industries.

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 Tuesday 1 September 2015. The event, hosted by NITV’s Natalie Ahmat, featured a live musical performance from one of this year’s ACCELERATE participants, Marcus Corowa, and a thought-provoking address on leadership from IndigenousX creator Luke Pearson. 

In his speech, Pearson discussed not only the immediate opportunities provided through ACCELERATE, but also the potential it has longer-term through knowledge sharing and creating career pathways for the next generation. 

“I believe that with opportunity comes responsibility,” he says. “I see the ACCELERATE recipients as links in a chain – they have a great opportunity to go out and develop their skills on a global level but it is also important for them to then support the others that will follow them. After all, that’s what true leadership is about,” add Pearson.

The five ACCELERATE participants will progress to the first stage of the 2015 programme, where they will take part in three days of facilitated workshops to explore their understanding of leadership and further develop ideas for their bespoke UK professional placements. 

Delivered by visiting UK expert Mark Wright of People Create, the leadership intensive aims 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 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. 

Choreographer, writer and 2014 ACCELERATE participant Jacob Boehme says the programme gave him a clearer sense of direction. “The ACCELERATE experience offered me time to really listen to myself and determine exactly what my truth is,” he says. “It provided me with an opportunity to review and identify my goals, accessing steps and strategies to achieve them. I was guided to honestly examine limiting behaviours that were sometimes preventing me from standing in my truth." 

British Council Director Helen O’Neil says, “Over the past five years, ACCELERATE has attracted some of the most diverse and talented individuals from the arts sector. Each year, we see participants successfully using their ACCELERATE experience to flourish in leadership positions, and I’m sure this year will be no exception. Marcus, Carly, Emma, Teagan and Angela are incredibly accomplished future leaders and we are extremely proud to welcome them to the ACCELERATE cohort.”

Lydia Miller, Executive Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts at the Australia Council, says, “Indigenous cultural leadership deserves recognition and support because keeping culture strong is one of the most challenging, rewarding and universally important human endeavours. We are pleased to collaborate with the British Council in building this international relationship for creative and cultural leadership for Indigenous Australians.”

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. 

For further information, visit www.accelerate.org.au.


Marcus Corowa (NSW)

Marcus Corowa has spent the past seven years performing with some of Australia’s best known artists; winning music awards; presenting; and doing what he loves best – gigging across Australia. Growing up in far north Queensland, Marcus draws on his Aboriginal and South Sea Islander heritage to create captivating and fun music with elements of blues, jazz and funk.

Marcus’s accolades include winning the ‘Most Promising New Talent in Music’ award at the 2012 Deadly Awards (on the back of his debut EP, The Greater You), and being a finalist in the 2011 APRA Professional Development Awards, and 2010 Q Song Awards. He is a regular face at music events and has performed in a number of musicals, such as Behind the Cane at the Queensland Music Festival. In 2014 he performed with the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra at the Sydney Opera House for the Marie Bashir Farewell Tribute Concert.

Marcus has also written songs for the soundtrack of the documentary For My People (a documentary about Indigenous basketballer, Parry Mills), and 2015 will see the first season of the musical, The New Black, which he wrote and composed for. Later this year he will perform in the musical, The Rabbits, with Opera Australia and Barking Gecko Theatre Company. He will also be releasing his second EP, ‘Water and Air’, which is produced by Damien Leith and includes a track co-written with X-Factor’s Reigan Derry.

Carly Sheppard (VIC)

Based in Melbourne, Carly Sheppard is an emerging performance artist, specialising in dance and choreography. Carly descends from the Kurtjar, Wallangamma, Takaluk and Kunjin language groups of North Queensland. After studying a ‘Careers in Dance’ course at NAISDA Dance College and a Bachelor of Dance at the Victorian College of the Arts and Music, Carly has been developing her multi-disciplinary practice across forms of dance and choreography, visual art, music and theatre. Carly’s diverse skills and experience have allowed her to develop a distinctive and passionate approach to movement, which makes for engaging performance quality and intriguing original choreography.

Emma Loban (QLD)

Emma Loban is a Kulkalgal, Meriam and Wuthathi woman whose family and cultural ties extend from the Eastern Cape York Peninsula to the Torres Strait Islands in ‘Far North’ Queensland. Emma holds the position of Operations and Exhibitions Manager at the Gab Titui Cultural Centre on Thursday Island in the Torres Strait. In this role, she has developed and curated a number of exhibitions including Muruygawmal Muykupal Pathamukmik (2011) – a Torres Strait cultural maintenance exhibition that coincided with the tombstone unveiling of the late Adhi (Chief) Ephraim Bani – as well as overseeing the annual Gab Titui Indigenous Art Award. Emma is currently undertaking a postgraduate course in Museum Studies through Deakin University. In 2010, Emma was one of ten arts workers selected to participate in the inaugural Wesfarmers Indigenous Arts Leadership Program at the National Gallery of Australia and, in 2014, she returned as a guest speaker and discussion panelist.

Emma is committed to returning her ancestors to their homelands and connecting her family and communities with their cultural material held in national and international collecting institutions. In 2011 and 2012, she undertook a Fellowship in London with the Natural History Museum where she assisted in the return of 19 Torres Strait ancestral remains to Australia. In 2012, Emma was awarded Torres Shire ‘Young Citizen of the Year’. She is also a visual artist who works mainly in the mediums of film, photography and ephemeral sculpture. Her work has been exhibited in group shows at the University of Technology Sydney, United Nations Headquarters NYC and Australian Centre for the Moving Image.

Teagan Cowlishaw (WA)

Teagan Cowlishaw is an Australian Indigenous visual artist from Perth WA who specialises in producing contemporary Aboriginal paintings with mixed mediums and recycled materials. She has appeared in a number of ‘Artist in Residence’ programmes and has exhibited her work around Perth, WA. Teagan is also a fashion designer and founder of AARLI, a sustainable and ethical street wear label that specialises in ‘upcycled’ fashion – or the creation of new garments and accessories from textile waste.

AARLI is the only Indigenous label to be ‘Ethical Clothing Australia’ accredited and to have a partnership with premium Ausralian label, Nobody Denim. AARLI uses unsold/unworn merchandise donated by the label to create new, high-end women’s garments. Through her business, Teagan continues to works with various Indigenous community groups in delivering business and fashion event services. 

Angela Flynn (SA)

Angela Flynn is a Tiwi, Larrakia and Chinese woman based in Adelaide. Angela is currently Performing Arts Manager for Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute and Creative Producer for South Australia’s premier Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural event, the Spirit Festival (presented by Tandanya). Angela began her career at the Adelaide Festival Centre, where she worked in various roles for over ten years. Starting as a Program Assistant for the Adelaide Cabaret Festival, she then moved in to the Centre’s programming department before moving on to her current work at Tandanya.

Throughout her career, Angela has developed a depth of experience as a freelance producer that cuts across both the visual and performing arts. Angela has been involved with the popular DEPARTURE after-dark cultural events program at the Art Gallery of South Australia, working proactively on the DEPARTURE Steering Committee for three years. She was also Operations Coordinator for the inaugural Spirit Festival and Production Manager for Kurruru Youth Performing Arts’ Binnanendi and Blak Nite shows.

Angela’s work within the arts has led her to be appointed to several boards and committees within the arts, including the SBS Cultural Advisory Committee, the Kurruru Youth Performing Arts Board and the Kura Yerlo Board. In addition, Angela works at a national sector level, involved with the Australia Council for the Arts in various capacities including the Council’s Indigenous Producers program. Angela is currently seconded to the Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art (presented by the Art Gallery of South Australia), where she holds the position of Public Program Manager.

Notes to Editor

MEDIA CONTACT: For more information, photographs and interview opportunities, contact Kym Elphinstone, [art]iculate, kym@articulatepr.com.au, 0421 106 139.


About the British Council

The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We are a Royal Charter charity, established as the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. Our 7000 staff in over 100 countries work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year through English, arts, education and society programmes. A quarter of our funding comes from a UK government grant, and we earn the rest from services which customers pay for, education and development contracts we bid for, and from partnerships. For more information, please visit: www.britishcouncil.org. You can also keep in touch with the British Council through http://blog.britishcouncil.org.

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