After experiencing everything from live gigs to meetings with a High Commissioner, top Indigenous creatives return from the UK ready to take on cultural leadership.
Image: 2015 ACCELERATE participants Emma Loban, Carly Sheppard, Angela Flynn, Marcus Corowa & Teagan Cowlishaw, with leadership trainer Mark Wright and British Council ACCELERATE Programme Manager Erica McCalman. Photograph courtesy British Council.
This year saw the sixth iteration of the British Council’s Indigenous leadership programme, ACCELERATE. The unique creative leadership skills development programme supports Australia’s entrepreneurial Indigenous artists, producers and performers with intensive leadership training in Australia and a fully funded trip to the UK. Participants undergo professional development placements and mentoring, utilise creative skills, draw upon their rich cultural knowledge base, and develop valuable international relationships with other creative leaders.
The 2015 group of participants reflected the diversity of talent fostered by the programme. They include musician Marcus Corowa (NSW); fashion designer Teagan Cowlishaw (WA); producer and arts manager Angela Flynn (SA); curator Emma Loban (QLD); and dancer and choreographer Carly Sheppard (VIC).
ArtsHub caught up with three of this year’s ACCELERATE participants at the end of their time in the UK, to hear about their experiences, from the planned to the unexpected.
Image: Marcus Corowa checks out London Bridge during ACCELERATE. Photograph courtesy Marcus Corowa.
When Marcus Corowa left for the UK he was in the midst of preparing for a tour, EP release and performance in Opera Australia’s The Rabbits for the Sydney Festival. Not surprising then that the busy musician managed to make the most of his time in the UK. ‘I saw a lot of live music and some incredible theatre shows, which was really inspiring,’ he recalls. ‘I [also] had back to back meetings each day with arts organisations and various key people from within the music industry.’
A highlight was a coaching session with writer, broadcaster, coach and arts consultant Gaylene Gould, and there were also unexpected outcomes elsewhere. ‘Through meeting Adam Townsend from APRA I had the opportunity to do some co-writing sessions with different songwriters at Tileyard Studio, which wasn’t something I had expected but…was such an incredible experience. Two of the songwriters that I worked with are Aussies…so I’m looking forward to catching up with them to finish the songs we started and…work on some more material. It’s…great to have established working relationships with people in the UK through the Accelerate experience.’
The journey isn’t over yet for Corowa who is travelling through Europe off the back of his time in the UK. He will return to Sydney in early January, going straight into rehearsals for The Rabbits before releasing his new EP and planning an Australian tour. ‘Then I’ll probably be trying to work out how I can get back to the UK as soon as possible,’ he says, eager to follow up on his new connections and a newfound love of London.
For Corowa, the ACCELERATE experience has been life-changing. ‘I’ve learnt so much about the music industry and also about myself. I have come away from the programme hugely inspired and with a real sense of clarity and focus about where I am heading in my career. It’s really exciting!’