Cultural Leadership: Emerging the emergent
School of Music Memorial University of Newfoundland St. John's, Canada
Centre for Leadership Studies University of Exeter Exeter, UK
Developing from histories of arts administration and arts management Cultural Leadership has recently become a focus within the cultural sector and creative industries of the UK. This paper interrogates a basic question, what is cultural leadership? Beginning with secondary sources (historical summaries, policy documents, arts/cultural grant applications) we contextualize the developments and practice of cultural leadership as an outgrowth of the discourse around arts/cultural administration and management re-oriented to leadership practice in the face of significant crises (financial, administrative) in major British cultural institutions (English National Opera, British Museum, Royal Opera, Royal Shakespeare Company) around 2000. We locate the re-orientation to leadership from administration and management as part of projects with the de facto aims of democratising and instrumentalising culture.
Drawing upon primary survey and interview data from twelve cultural leadership practitioners we then reflect upon whom cultural leaders are (career history, motivation, etc.). Turning to practice we consider cultural leadership as advocacy for, and facilitation of, cultural activity. This is largely based on culture's perceived ability to cultivate individual and group potential. More specifically, we define cultural leadership through descriptions of effects (rather than personal or positional inputs) by cultural leadership practitioners, specifically where it taps into affordances (Gibson, 1966; Greeno, 1994; DeNora, 2000) of cultural products (material and otherwise) for world making activity. We join recent leadership theorists in making use of Heidegger's "Building, Dwelling, Thinking" (Ladkin, 2006; Carrol et al., 2007) to contextualise cultural leadership as activity enabling engagement with cultural artifacts and activities. Through advocacy for and facilitation of cultural engagement cultural leaders are involved in projects which invite others to situations outside "everyday experience that which is from the outset "habitual""(Heidegger 1971: 147) where positive affordances of culture may emerge from interactions with cultural artifacts and events leading to a reflexive engagement with the world - dwelling.
Cultural leadership is an activity more explicitly centered round encouraging engagement with various cultural activities, practices and artifacts in the belief that such engagement may have positive social benefits for those engaged. It is an activity focused on emerging the emergent from cultural interactivity.