Past Opportunities

Training and funding empowering women to be leaders in the arts

We’re inviting 16 women to take part in a paid leadership programme that includes work placements, mentoring and training.

Applications for Women Leaders South West have now closed. We are currently shortlisting with interviews due to take place on 7th, 8th & 9th December. We are very grateful to be supported by Shobana Jeyasingh with the shortlisting process.

Women Leaders South West
Empowering Women of all Backgrounds to be Leaders in the Arts

Are you interested in the arts? Do you enjoy problem-solving or making things happen? We’re inviting 16 women to take part in a paid leadership programme that includes work placements, mentoring and training.

BSL: Women Leaders South West Call Out

The challenge

Women are under-represented at a leadership level across all art forms – in theatres, festivals, galleries, and museums. Racism, ableism, transphobia, homophobia, economic constraints and caring responsibilities also create barriers to career development and leadership opportunities. The Women Leaders South West programme aims to understand these barriers, develop tools to tackle them and remove some of the obstacles women face in becoming leaders in the arts. We want to challenge people’s ideas of what a leader is, support new ideas and voices, bring excellence, excitement and strength to the arts and learn together with women from all backgrounds.

The opportunity

We’re working with 8 other organisations across the South West to offer training and funding for women to take part in a leadership training programme.

Together, we’re looking for 16 women associates who we can support on their leadership journeys.

Photo of Kalkidan Legesse, founder of Sancho’s, at the Slow Fashion Show. Photographer: Emma Booth.

What are we looking for?

We are looking for 16 women associates. You may have creative ideas that you want to see happen for yourself or your community.

The programme as a whole is looking for applicants who are:

  • Passionate about arts and culture
  • Over 21 years old
  • Based in the South West region (Bournemouth, Christchurch Poole, Plymouth, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth, Southampton, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Hampshire, Wiltshire, Somerset, Gloucestershire, BANES & Bristol)
  • Rooted in their local community
  • Interested in developing new skills

You do not need a higher education qualification. You do need to have at least 2 years’ work experience (this does not have to have been in the arts).

We are particularly interested in working with women from groups who are most underrepresented at leadership level in the cultural sector, including disabled women. At Strike A Light specifically, we are especially keen to hear from women based in Gloucestershire from Black, Asian and Ethnically diverse backgrounds.

What can we offer?

  • A relationship with one of the partner arts organisations – to involve you in workplace experiences
  • Mentoring – a learning exchange with women associates and hosts
  • A Living Allowance/training bursary of £12,000 to cover ten months of training, paid in ten monthly instalments (or in line with your bespoke programme)
  • Additional support to meet your individual needs across the whole programme e.g. childcare, BSL interpretation, support worker, travel costs
  • Online and face-to-face training and career development opportunities with Southampton Business School
  • Connection with women from across the world through the WOW Foundation and Jude Kelly who started the organisation

What will you do?

Together we will design a flexible training programme equivalent to 10 months. You will either work intensively over a concentrated period, or you will work less intensively over an extended period.

Host organisation programme
You will be paired with one partner organisation who will be your host, but you will have the opportunity to work with the seven other arts organisations where possible.

During your time with a host you might:

  • shadow or work with existing women leaders
  • work on an existing project with your host or one of the other arts organisations
  • create your own arts project using our team as support, for example, an event, a workshop, a talk series
  • identify a need and work with us to create a new initiative
  • bring support and challenge to our team – helping us reflect and plan
  • enable someone else or a community to achieve something

Residencies and international symposium
You will need to attend one 3-day and one 2-day residency to research and learn about leadership. You will meet the other women leaders of the 8 host arts organisations. You will be part of an International Symposium. All of your costs to attend these events are paid for by the programme.

Online and face-to-face training with Southampton Business School
You will attend a series of seminars and lectures on topics such
as business planning, marketing and income generation. These will be online and face-to-face and will be timetabled between January 2021 and June 2022.

You will attend 4 face-to-face meetings with other women in the cohort (16 women in total across the region).

When will you do it?

Your training programme will be scheduled between January 2021 and June 2022. We will be as flexible as we can to fit around your
commitments. We will work with you to design a programme and timeline that works best for you and your host partner.

Spring 2021 Residency at Dartington Hall in Devon
January 2021 – June 2022 Host Organisation Programme (equivalent of 10 months’ training, at any time in this 18-month period)
January 2021 – June 2022 Flexible learning delivered by Southampton Business School
January 2022 Evaluation residency (2 days)
Spring 2022 International Symposium (2 days)

How do I apply or nominate someone else?

We understand that people might not recognise their own leadership
potential so you can apply for yourself or you can nominate someone else or the programme. You MUST have permission from the person you are nominating.

Whether you are making an application for yourself or on behalf of
someone else, thank you for your interest and thank you for spreading the word about this opportunity.

You can apply directly to the programme via one of the hosts’ websites. You MUST name your preferred host organisation on the application form.

You can choose a host because a) they’re nearest to you b) because you share their vision or c) because you like their work.

Before you apply

Please check out our Frequently Asked Questions which we will update regularly and the full call out.

You can also contact one of the arts organisations via the contact information on their websites. Please include ‘Women Leaders South West’ in the subject of your email.

This call-out is available in BSL, large print and Audio versions.

BSL: Women Leaders South West Programme FAQs

Information Sessions
We are holding two information sessions for you to find out more about the programme, what we are looking for, how to apply and to ask any questions you might have.

Friday 6 November: 1pm
Tuesday 10 November: 6pm

These information sessions will be hosted via Zoom.

The other host organisations will also be holding information sessions – look out for dates on the organisation’s websites or sign up to the Women Leaders South West mailing list.

How to Apply

You must apply by the deadline of Monday 16th November 2020 at 9am.

You can apply in writing via the online form below or you can send us a video/ audio link that answers the application questions.

Click here to make an application
Click here to nominate someone else

You cannot save and return to the online form. We suggest completing the application questions in this word document in advance and pasting them into the form.

You must complete a very short and confidential monitoring form.

For video and audio applications complete your personal information on the forms above and paste a link to your video or audio file.


We are delighted to be working with an incredible panel of advisors who will support the host organisations with recruitment; helping to design the process, supporting shortlisting, interviewing with us and giving feedback to applicants.

Sabeena Akhtar is a Writer/Editor and an Arts and Culture programmer working across a
variety of literary festivals.

Maricka Oglesby is the Director of the Women’s Leadership Institute of Baltimore at Notre Dame of Maryland University, an historic institution educating women and girls for the past 125 years. She also serves as the Producer of the Women of the World Festival – Baltimore USA.

Kym Oliver is “…An unapologetically Black, African AND Caribbean, British, Disabled, Woman, with a
wheelchair-ish case of Multiple Sclerosis…”. Kym, is dedicated to illuminating their ‘lived experience’ with a long-term condition. Examining its psychological, emotional, practical, social, cultural, structural and interpersonal effects, in order to create a blueprint for a more equitable future. She is determined to be the change she wishes to see.

Shobana Jeyasingh is a choreographer and artistic director. Through her work, her lived experience as a British Asian female artist and through her contributions to cultural discourse she has been both a witness and advocate of the empowerment of women in the cultural sector in myriad ways.