People from diverse backgrounds are underrepresented in the leadership of Australia's performing arts organisations. In TNA's Salary Survey 2021, only 19% of executive level positions identified as having diverse lived experience. Where there is diversity there is strength, relevance, and equity, so TNA is making a commitment to help lead the sector in a journey of change.

In 2023 we have launched a pilot program of LeaderShift, engaging a group of 11 diverse people already working in organisations, as well as their organisations, to address this form of systemic inequity.

We acknowledge that the lack of diversity in Australian performing arts leadership is not due to low numbers of diverse leaders, but because of a system that favours and preferences white, non-disabled people and other privileged identities. Organisations can often be rigid and intimidating spaces, leading to unfavourable working conditions for anyone in leadership positions. LeaderShift is an intervention that supports organisations to examine their leadership and business models, investigate more relevant models, and make a commitment to implementing changes that prioritise equity and cultural safety.

For participants, LeaderShift is not about teaching leadership skills, but assumes they already have some skills and experience as leaders. Instead, this program prepares and supports leaders from diverse backgrounds to thrive within systems that may not be designed to accommodate them, and offers them the inspiration, tools, and peer support to think about how to reinvent these systems.

As defined by John C. Maxwell, “leadershifting is the ability and willingness to make a leadership change that will positively enhance organizational and personal growth.” More concisely, leadershift is “the act of nimbly adapting one’s leadership in the midst of rapid change.” 

2023 Pilot PROGRAM

The Cohort

TNA is supporting 11 mid-career arts professionals currently working in performing arts organisations in roles with decision-making power. The Cohort will meet monthly in 2023 in sessions facilitated by consultant Veronica Pardo that focus on:

  • Peer-learning and support
  • Essential skills and knowledge for people from diverse communities to take on leadership and change management
  • Self-directed professional development.

TNA will provide each participant with $3,000 towards additional professional development, and TNA staff will work with them to co-design this.

The 2023 Cohort includes:


Participating organisations will commit to paying the usual salary of the participants for all aspects of the program, including the monthly Cohort meetings, the additional professional development, and any preparation/debrief/evaluation time.

1-2 CEOs from each of the 11 participating organisations will also participate in the Culturally Safe Leadership Program with personal coaching, led by Veronica Pardo. Program costs will be paid for by TNA.

Organisations and CEOs in the 2023 program include:

  • Arts House – Nithya Nagarajan and Emily Sexton
  • Australian Plays Transform – Erin Taylor
  • Belvoir St Theatre – Eamon Flack and Aaron Beach
  • Footscray Community Arts - Daniel Santangeli and Bec Cole
  • Griffin Theatre Company – Julieanne Campbell
  • La Boite – Courtney Stewart
  • Malthouse Theatre – Matthew Lutton
  • Melbourne Theatre Company – Anne-Louise Sarks
  • Penrith Performing and Visual Arts – Krissie Scudds
  • Sydney Theatre Company – Anne Dunn
  • The Blue Room Theatre – Katt Osborne


About Veronica Pardo (LeaderShift Facilitator)

Veronica Pardo is a woman of colour and migrant from Uruguay who has been leading the work on cultural equity in Australia for more than 15 years, heading peak organisations such as Arts Access Victoria and Multicultural Arts Victoria, as champions of change in the arts towards greater equity and justice. She is a highly regarded leader, sought after by institutions to guide the development of interventions aimed at changing organisational culture, structure and practice. She is an experienced leadership and executive development coach, working with individuals to build capacity for culturally safe, high performing teams that enable diverse practice and lived experience. Veronica is a skilled workshop facilitator who brings both lived and professional experience of diversity to the creation of culturally safe learning and reflection spaces. Her understanding of organisational needs and priorities ensures that this work is both aspirational and practical, leading to meaningful and implementable plans for change. Veronica has worked with more than 150 cultural organisations focusing on issues such as racial equity and justice, cultural safety, diversity and inclusion. She is currently on the Board of Collingwood Yards, Deputy Chair of Next Wave and Chair of Western Edge.