(Summary) Mentoring and Change in Cultural Organizations: The Experience of Directors in British National Museums

Safiah Sulaiman

Mentoring and Change in Cultural Organizations: The Experience of Directors in British National Museums

Author: Jonathan Paquette

(The author retains copyright of the thesis)

This paper by Jonathan Paquette investigates how mentoring plays a pivotal role in institutional regeneration. Sixteen qualitative interviews of museum directors in British National Museums were conducted to demonstrate an understanding as to why and how mentoring plays a part in arts leadership. The interview sample comes from nine men and seven women who hold senior positions in the museum.

Paquette acknowledges that there is increasing pressure for museums to be socially relevant and economically viable in the past decade, and that the government cultural policy plays a huge influence to the agenda for organizational change. It is then reiterated that mentoring is a crucial method to pave the way for innovative leadership and to address the cultural challenges of museums in recent times.

To provide the framework of the research, the paper categorises mentoring into sociological, managerial and vocational aspect. Sociologically, mentors come from position of power and can provide the social capital that is beneficial for career progression. Managerial literature emphasises on formal mentoring, which can be a tool in succession management. From the professional viewpoint, mentoring can be part of career development. However, the limitation to such premise is that all three angles are based on the concept of only one mentee per mentor, and that due to the intergenerational dynamics, there might be inflexibility of ideas and clash of opinions.

From the findings, mentors often encourage their protégés in their agendas for change, even though mentoring typically fossilises existing mindsets and behaviours. There are also instances whereby a new professional in an organization seek guidance from a mentor of a different occupational group.

To conclude, the thesis acknowledges that more research is needed to better assess the potential of mentoring since an aging workforce and high turnover rate could hinder the sustainability of an organization.


(Summary) Performing arts management in a climate of adjustment: case studies from Vietnam and Australia

Safiah Sulaiman

Performing arts management in a climate of adjustment: case studies from Vietnam and Australia

Author: Le Huong

(The author retains copyright of the thesis)

This paper critically examines how the current socio-economic landscape due to globalization affect the development and strategies of performing arts organizations in Vietnam and Australia. A comprehensive comparative study of selected major performing arts organizations in Vietnam and Australia was carried out to understand why and how the arts leaders adjust to the changing contemporary environment in terms of cultural policies, financial sustainability as well as marketing and entrepreneurial strategies in their respective countries. The justification of comparison between the countries stem from the basis of their long-term bilateral relations, and that both countries have been affected by economic and cultural globalisation during the 1980s and 1990s.

In terms of the methodology used, qualitative case study approach was used through sampling and analysing from in-depth interviews, archival records, direct observations and documentation. These analyses provide insights to comprehend the operation and management of performing arts organisations in both countries to cope with the changes over the years. Two comparative case studies are grouped according to their art forms and selected based on the organisation size (medium to large) and popularity in each respective country: Hanoi Youth Theatre with Melbourne Theatre Company, and the Vietnam National Symphony Orchestra with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Overall, the findings indicate that cultural policies and economic reform play a major role in pushing the arts organizations to adapt. While government funding still plays a part in financial sustainability for both countries, it is recommended that Vietnam could learn from Australia’s strategies to obtain from individual donations and philanthropy, which is a fairly new concept in Vietnam. Furthermore, in the context of the knowledge economy, entrepreneurial skills and innovative marketing strategies are also essential, and it is suggested that certain arts management training courses in Australia could be adapted in Vietnam for capacity-building and that such strategic collaboration could be mutually beneficial.

i thought about you when i was here (work-in-progress)

Exhibition, i thought about you when i was here, Iceland, Listhus Artspace, Safiah Sulaiman, Singapore, Skammdegishátíð 2016

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

Work-in-progress with Menntaskólinn á Tröllaskaga, Fernanda Chieco (Brazil), Jack Duplock (UK) and Jade de Robles (Spain/England)


(Reflection post): The Arts Activated 2014 Conference (Sydney)

Safiah Sulaiman

I had an insightful week in Sydney, Australia, for The Arts Activated 2014 Conference, which showcased arts and cultural programmes, projects and research around the world on the trends as well as issues relating to inclusive arts practices.

It had been a great opportunity to be able to explore and reflect with like-minded delegates and presenters. Some of the notable keynote speakers during the conference are:
Jo Verrent, Senior producer from Unlimited (UK)
Marcus Dickey Horley, Curator of Special Projects at Tate Gallery (UK)
Sunethra Bandaranaike, Chairperson of Sunera Foundation (Sri Lanka)
Sawang Srisom, Composer and Former chairperson of the Network of Music and Arts of Persons with Disabilities (Thailand)
Magdalena Moreno, Deputy Director of International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies

There were sharing sessions on audience development, international collaborations, community connections, creative practice and media matters.I had the privilege to hear guest speakers discuss experiences and differences in disability arts across the world, as well as some of the cultural challenges facing artists and practitioners in various countries, case studies demonstrating inclusive arts approach, research findings and international perspectives accessing on the ways that programming, touring models and exchange can be designed to ensure long-term relationships and legacies.

The Arts Activated 2014 Conference also showcased talents of artists with disabilities and was an access friendly event with live captioning, braille and audio description services.