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Art and soul: the not-for-profit art organisations thriving in a post-lockdown world

2023 Arts support program collaborators

When the pandemic hit, the performing arts sector suffered significantly. Live productions and creative collaborations immediately ground to a halt. Support funding was variable, and the constant uncertainty forced many to the brink. But for some organisations, the enforced downtime led to important consolidation, reflection and innovation.

BlakDance and Sunshine Coast Symphony Orchestra are the 2023 Governance Institute of Australia’s Arts Support Program collaborators. Here’s how they navigated the pandemic, and how they have managed to thrive.

Dancing with disorder

Based in Brisbane, BlakDance enables First Nations contemporary choreographers, dance companies and their communities to connect, collaborate and create works for local, national and international audiences.

Kate Eltham from BlakDance said the organisation has recently increased staffing levels and stepped up the complexity of its activities.

‘With this rapid growth, we find the need to manage the changing context of risk and opportunity the organisation faces,’ Ms Eltham said.

‘We have recently hired a Co-CEO Business Director who has been appointed as Company Secretary, and the executive team are eager to enhance their education in governance to support an effective working relationship with the board.’

Time to reflect, reimagine and reinvest

Sunshine Coast Symphony Orchestra (SCSO) is a not-for-profit community orchestra, with a 50-year history of making music affordable and accessible to the Sunshine Coast community.

SCSO Management Committee Member Dr Emma Secomb said taking the time to develop a new strategic plan and invest in new technology has seen a massive growth revenues and audiences.

‘We pivoted from being one of several small orchestras on the Sunshine Coast performing to audiences of around 150, to the being the Coast’s largest ensemble and able to fill 600 seat venues for all our concerts.’

Dr Secomb says revenue has tripled and is now being reinvested into commissioning new works and taking bigger programming risks.

‘With our expansion as an organisation, our governance knowledge and practice needs to keep pace. This course will be very useful in ensuring we maintain as high a standard in our governance practice as we aim for musically,’ Dr Secomb said.

Governance Institute CEO Megan Motto congratulated BlakDance and Sunshine Coast Symphony Orchestra on their successful applications.

‘We are thrilled to be collaborating with two performing arts organisations who have shown incredible resilience during some of the toughest business years on record,’ Ms Motto said.

‘This collaboration will bring important governance skills and knowledge to the performing arts community, empowering them to meet the challenges of a post pandemic world.’

Essential resource: Governance principles for boards of public sector entities in Australia – 2023 revised edition available now

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