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Governance Institute arts collaborators announced for 2021

Credit: Lucas Dawson Photography.

Following the launch of Governance Institute’s Arts Support Program last year, designed to assist the creative sector during the pandemic, we are delighted to announce this year’s participants: Melbourne Fashion Festival and RISING.

Australia’s cultural and creative sector was severely impacted economically and socially last year by COVID-19, with event cancellations, social distancing measures and movement restrictions all taking their toll on the industry.

Governance Institute of Australia introduced its Arts Support Program in 2020 as a way of providing support to the not-for-profit arts community throughout the pandemic.

By promoting essential governance skills and upskilling employees, the program, which provides collaborators with online Certificates from Governance Institute of Australia, endeavours to help organisations to be best placed for the future.

Following the latest round of applications to the program, we are delighted to announce that the first collaborator for 2021 is RISING, a major cultural event for the Asia Pacific region, created by a diverse team of local, national and international artists and curators.

The event begins on the evening of the total lunar eclipse in May, running from May 26 and June 6, 2021. It is a showcase of events designed to re-synchronise and is re-energise Melbourne with public art, performance and music.

RISING co-chief executive officer and executive director Kath Mainland said her organisation’s participation in the Arts Support Program will help allow the team to develop their existing governance and leadership skills.

“Having sat on boards here in Australia and in my native Scotland, I believe in embedding good governance and risk management into an organisation, and that planning and decision-making through that lens should be seen not as a hurdle but a solution,” Ms Mainland said.

“An event of RISING’s scale brings a significant investment and interest from stakeholders, which in turn brings an increased requirement for governance and oversight and so our reporting requirements and the processes around them need to be robust and efficient.”

COVID-19 planning requirements had placed the arts and major events industries into uncharted territory, Ms Mainland said.

“We have the capacity to energise artists and the community in a safe and accessible way, bringing people back together to eat, drink and participate, to provide connection and entertainment, and to experience the work of Australia’s most notable artists and leading performing arts companies,” she said.

“RISING is a not-for-profit organisation and as our board of directors volunteer their time to us, we firmly believe that risk management and governance is the responsibility of everybody in the organisation.

“Good governance helps an organisation achieve its objectives, providing the framework to operate effectively and will assist us to present the exciting and ambitious inaugural event we are working towards in 2021.”

The iconic Melbourne Fashion Festival (MFF) was also selected as a 2021 Arts Support Program collaborator, ahead of its 25th anniversary milestone in March.

A 10-day showcase of established and emerging designers, world-class runways, shopping and networking events, workshops, industry seminars, exhibitions, tours and live entertainment, MFF will be celebrated over multiple platforms and locations.

MFF acting chief executive officer Yolanda Finch said 2020 emphasised the importance of having the right knowledge and tools to navigate uncertain and inherently high-risk times.

“As a not-for-profit organisation, MFF operates on a lean staffing structure and relies on an exceptional group of voluntary directors overseeing our governance and risk management aspects of the business,” Ms Finch said.

“When we saw the opportunity to upskill at both executive and board level through the Arts Support Program, we leapt at the chance to apply. It’s not always easy for not-for-profits to buy in expertise in specialist areas, so access to the Arts Support Program as a collaborator is a game-changer for us.”

The nature of MFF’s business with different teams brought together to deliver an evolving program of events, meant risk management and rigorous governance was at the heart of the business and event operations.

“It cannot be overstated how valuable programs such as this are to organisations working in the arts and cultural sectors,” she said.

“Funding aside, the most critical resources for arts and not-for-profit organisations are knowledge and networks. A better governed organisation is a better leader setting an example of professionalism and ‘best practice’ for many others to learn from in turn.”

Image: Left, RISING co-chief executive officer and executive director Kath Mainland, and right, Melbourne Fashion Festival acting chief executive officer Yolanda Finch

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