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 are launching a pilot program of LeaderShift, engaging a group of 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 will support up to eight mid-career arts professionals currently working in performing arts organisations in roles with decision-making power, but not CEOs, and who describe themselves as aspiring leaders. This LeaderShift 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. 


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 executive staff, preferably CEOs, from each of the eight 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.


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.

  • Oct 11th    Applications open
  • Dec 5th     Applications close
  • Jan 16th    Successful applicants announced
  • Feb-Nov    10 x Monthly sessions for the Cohort
  • TBC            4 x 2-hour workshops and 2 x individual coaching sessions for CEOs/executive leaders


For the purpose of this work, TNA defines People from diverse backgrounds as people who are:

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
  • First nations
  • Culturally and/or linguistically diverse
  • People of colour
  • Deaf
  • Disabled
  • Transgender or gender diverse

To be eligible for the program, applicants must:

  1. Identify as being from one of the above backgrounds.
  2. Be employed a minimum of three days a week by a performing arts organisation in Australia for the duration of 2023.
  3. Be employed in a role with some decision-making power within the organisation – however, CEOs are not eligible.
  4. Have the support of their employing organisation to take part.
  5. Commit to attending ten monthly sessions of ~3 hours each.

Participating organisations are asked to:

  1. Support their participating employees to attend during paid work hours.
  2. Liaise with their employee and TNA on the use of the professional development budget.
  3. Nominate 1-2 executive leaders to take part in the Culturally Safe Leadership Program. While it is the strongly preferred option to participate in the Culturally Safe Leadership Program it is not essential and is considered on a case-by-case basis.

Apply Now

Applicants and their employing organisations are invited to submit applications using the online form.

Applications close Monday December 5th (11:59pm AEDT)

If required, applications can be submitted use a word document version of the application form and emailed to josh@tna.org.au. Video applications which address the questions are also accepted.

More Information & FAQ

For more information or if you have any questions about the program or application process, please contact TNA General Manager Joshua Lowe at josh@tna.org.au or 03 9947 1015.