Monday, 15 April 2024
Monday, 15 April 2024

Oxford Cultural Leaders programme open for 2021 with focus on ‘Leadership in times of crisis’

Applications are now open for Oxford Cultural Leaders 2021, the acclaimed leadership programme for cultural organisations that have developed a reputation as a vital training ground for senior leaders in the sector. For the first time, Oxford Cultural Leaders will offer both a residential and online programme for 2021.    

Designed and delivered by Oxford University’s Gardens, Libraries & Museums in partnership with the Saïd Business School, Oxford Cultural Leaders (OCL) is a unique programme for those working in the cultural sector at Director or senior management level who want to redefine their identity as leaders and reimagine their institutional vision at a time of increasing challenge for the sector.

As the sector responds to and works within the Covid crisis it faces particularly complex challenges that require leaders who are dynamic and responsive, and who are able to make difficult decisions, have the confidence to take risks and experiment and bring their teams and stakeholders together in order to steer their institutions successfully through change.  

The programme − now in its seventh year − brings together expertise from the cultural and business sectors to encourage participants to explore how cultural organisations can embrace transformational change through entrepreneurial ways of thinking and behaving.

This year the programme will be offering two options for greater flexibility:  

  • A residential programme to run 26 September – 1 October 2021. This established 6-day-long course offers participants the opportunity to re-examine their approach to leadership through immersive workshops, lectures, panel discussions, provocations, reflective sessions and keynote speeches, delivered by cultural sector leaders, business school experts and industry authorities. A group of 24 participants will be based in Oxford, within Corpus Christi College, where they can enjoy the benefits of the central Oxford location, and access to the expertise of Oxford University staff and OCL teachers and the acclaimed resources of the University’s Gardens, Libraries and Museums.  Deadline for Applications: Monday 21 June 2021 
  • A new online programme to run 11 – 19 April 2021. The 9-day-long programme will include expertly facilitated, immersive and highly participatory online sessions with the same OCL faculty who support the residential programme with interactive workshops, peer coaching and reflection tasks. These sessions will be tailored to optimize online learning and will be designed to inspire innovation as well as building a supportive peer network. Online delivery offers greater flexibility during this time, allowing participation from attendees across the UK and around the world.  Deadline for applications: Monday 1 February 2021

In seven years the programme has developed a dynamic network of over 100 alumni, working in influential roles across the sector. Alumni come from a range of institutions in the UK, such as the British Museum, National Museums Liverpool, Bletchley Park, Bristol Old Vic, Neon Dance, National Portrait Gallery, National Galleries of Scotland, Science Museum Group, British Library, Leeds Museums and Galleries, English National Ballet, Arnolfini Galleries and the Design Museum, and from a wide range of international organisations including, Arts Centre Melbourne, Queensland State Archives, Dresden State Art Collections, from the Agency for Art and Culture, Denmark, the Smithsonian and the Canadian Museum of Natural History. With alumni in 14 countries around the world, OCL is a truly international programme that gives participants a huge scope to learn from others.

“Covid and lockdown have severely tested arts and cultural institutions, which provides a great opportunity to develop new skills, and even to get rid of bad habits. The Oxford Cultural Leaders programme had a superb track record of developing leaders prior to the pandemic, and it is now building on those considerable strengths to offer a programme truly suited for new times. Good leadership has never been so important in cultural sectors; OCL is the best way to get better at it!” Dr Pegram Harrison, Senior Fellow in Entrepreneurship and OCL Faculty Member

The OCL programme welcomes applications from managers in the museum and galleries sector as well as from across the cultural sector: in theatre and the performing arts, visual arts, music, film, libraries, cultural & natural heritage, tourism, and the creative industries.   

Faculty for 2021 includes Pegram Harrison, Tim Morris, Michael Smets and Nelisha Wickremasinghe (Saïd Business School), Lucy Shaw, Richard Ovenden, Paul Smith, Laura Van Broekhoven (Oxford University GLAM), Kaywin Feldman (National Gallery Washington DC), Caroline Jones (The Story Museum) and  Samenua Sesher (Museum of Colour).

Applications for the online programme are now open with a deadline of 1 Feb 2021 Applications for the residential programme open in April with a deadline of 21 June 2021 

Find out more, see the curriculum, and to apply, at


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