“ACCELERATE gets your fire, concentrates it and directs it towards your goal”
– Jacob Boehme, 2014 ACCELERATE participant
Sydney, Australia: Six outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts professionals have been announced tonight at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre (Melbourne Museum) as the 2016 participants of British Council and Australia Council for the Arts’ annual leadership skills development programme, ACCELERATE. The participants will undergo tailored leadership programs in Australia and each will also travel to the United Kingdom for professional placements and mentoring to develop their chosen creative vocation.
The Australia Council for Arts is a founding partner of the initiative and continues its support in 2016, with the program now in its seventh successful year. ACCELERATE provides Indigenous Australians working within the creative industries with the skills and networks to generate, take up and excel in leadership positions. The programme is aimed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from across Australia who have at least five years’ experience in the creative industries and can demonstrate a bold vision for where they want to take their career and their community.
This year, the selection panel has identified six mid-career professionals ready to move in to senior leadership roles across the arts and creative industries. The 2016 ACCELERATE programme participants are:
•       Jilda Andrews – a curator and singer from Australian Capital Territory
•       Kamarra Bell Wykes – an arts manager and playwright from Victoria
•       Travis De Vries – an arts manager and writer from New South Wales
•       Glenn Iseger-Pilkington – a museums and galleries curator from Western Australia
•       Francoise Lane – a designer from Queensland
•       Jonathon Saunders – an illustrator and arts worker from Northern Territory
The six participants were selected from a nation-wide call for applications and announced as part of a special celebration held at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre (Melbourne Museum) on Tuesday 16 August 2016. The event, hosted by actress, writer and director Tammy Anderson, featured a thought-provoking speech by 2014 ACCELERATE alumni and Creative Director of Melbourne Indigenous Arts Festival Jacob Boehme on his ACCELERATE journey and what it has done for his career and creative practice.
The six ACCELERATE participants will now take part in three days of facilitated workshops to explore their understanding of leadership and further develop ideas for their bespoke UK professional placements.  Delivered by visiting UK expert Mark Wright of People Create Limited, the leadership intensive aims to enhance the participants’ understanding of their own leadership styles as well as providing them with the practical skills necessary to develop their leadership potential.
The group travels to the UK for three weeks in November 2016 to develop their skills in consultation with high-profile individuals and organisations in their artistic fields.
Jacob Boehme says the programme gave him a clearer sense of direction. “The ACCELERATE experience offered me time to really listen to myself and determine exactly what my truth is,” he says. “It provided me with an opportunity to review and identify my goals, accessing steps and strategies to achieve them. I was guided to honestly examine limiting behaviours that were sometimes preventing me from standing in my truth.”
Producer and 2015 ACCELERATE participant Angela Flynn says, “It was an incredibly intense programme but in the best possible way. I was able to confront issues that had been troubling me about my career, in a positive proactive manner, with excellent resolutions or at least with progress. But I also realised that I don’t need to have all the answers now as long as I remain focussed on my purpose.”
Writer and playwright Jane Harrison, who took part in ACCELERATE in 2012 says, “ACCELERATE gave me a wider perspective of my artistic practice. As Aboriginal artists we are driven to contribute back to our local communities but the doors that ACCELERATE opened in the UK, the interest in and curiosity about our stories and perspectives, meant that a penny dropped for me; we have something unique and special that the wider world values and wants. We can also contribute to our communities by playing on a world stage. The fabulous cohort is an amazing plus; we are creating our own networked clan of creatives with clout.”
British Council Director Helen O’Neil says, “By the end of this year, ACCELERATE will have been instrumental in shaping the careers of 35 incredibly talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander creative leaders. It has been successful in developing long-lasting links and opportunities between arts practitioners in Australia and the UK and in creating career pathways for future generations. We are extremely pleased to welcome this year’s participants to the ACCELERATE cohort and look forward to seeing how they use the experience to flourish as leaders in their creative disciplines.”
Lydia Miller, Executive Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts at the Australia Council, says, “Keeping culture strong is one of the most universally important human endeavours. It requires recognition and support for the Indigenous cultural leadership and investment in the development of vibrant communities. The Australia Council is pleased to collaborate with the British Council on ACCELERATE as an important platform for First Nations arts leaders to develop their skills and engage in global dialogue.”
ACCELERATE 2016 is presented by the British Council and the Australia Council for the Arts in partnership with Arts NSW, Arts NT, Arts Queensland, Creative Victoria and Department of Culture and the Arts WA with additional support from SBS NITV. For further information, visit www.accelerate.org.au.