Arts Centre Melbourne is a special place where people come together for truly remarkable experiences. In thinking about what the organisation needed to do in order to be the perfect host for audience and artists alike, the internal culture was the first thing that needed to evolve.
The Arts Centre Melbourne sits prominently positioned on St Kilda Road and in the hearts of Victorians. While not as flashy as it s Sydney cousin, this building, or more precisely what goes on inside it, contributes enormously to the cultural fabric of Victoria and Australia. The more than 800 people who work at Australia’s largest performing arts centre host some of the finest local and international talent. From the sublime to the everyday, night after night they collectively manage all of the activities necessary to stage world c lass events. So what kind of internal culture does it take for this prestigious institution to successfully play such a special role, that enriches the lives of so many, and how do you build such a culture?
In November 2014, Claire Spencer was appointed to the position of Arts Centre Melbourne CEO. As with all leaders coming in from the outside, a principal challenge was to quickly get her head around the organisation she was now leading. There is a balancing act between assertively making haste and effectively piecing together an accurate picture, and it requires asking the right questions and listening actively to others.
As Claire puts it, ‘How do you value and respect those that have come before you whilst driving the change needed to move an Institution into the next phase of its life-cycle?’
Those who work in creative hubs, like the Arts Centre Melbourne, generally share a strong conviction that society is enhanced through artistic and cultural endeavour. There is a rich vocational seam running through such institutions, similar to what can be observed in the health profession.
Such dedication can be a powerful asset, but it is not enough to drive the change necessary to create an internal culture where:
In order to create an internal culture such as this, worthy of applause every time the curtain goes up, key elements needed t o be carefully