AI PROFILE Taking us to her leaders

Hilary Carty, director, the Clore Leadership Programme

Nobody could have been closer to the Clore Leadership Programme with- out actually being part of it than Hilary Carty. She was heading up policy development at Arts Council England when Dame Vivien Duf field, appalled at the stagnation in movement at the top of the arts, founded the programme in 2004, and a couple of years later Carty herself was heading an ACE version of it, the Cultural Leadership Programme (of which more explanation later) which she ran for five years until the new Conservative government pulled the blinds down on it.

Now she is the Clore’s director, only the third in those 13 years succeeding Sue Hoyle who had been with it from the start, first as deputy to Chris Smith (who later moved up as chairman) and then as director.

In those years, Carty says, the Clore has expanded to take in new disciplines, and to offer more elements as the sector has asked for them. In 2004 the programme was a two year course, and a shorter 12 month version for those in a hurry. Now the longest fellowship is nine months, and there is a sprinkling of two week residential short courses.

The fellowship programme offers training, a residential period, mentoring, placements, one-to-one skills development, and the cultural fabric now is studded with the 300 or so fellows that have come through the system that Hoy- le evolved. “She has established it as a brand standing for excellence, it is the gold standard of leadership training, a great gift to pass on” Carty says of her predecessor. “My job is to enhance it and take it to the next stage”.

At four weeks into the job she is reluctant to be specific about what the programme’s next stage will be, but it will involve connecting up with the many smaller leadership programmes around the world that have sprung up taking their cue from the Clore – one in Singapore, for instance, has even been set up by a couple of Clore alumni.

Hilary Carty has a performing arts degree and an MBA in strategic management. She started her career in 1984 as a community arts worker in Leicester and Birmingham, then in 1986 became dance officer for East Midlands Arts, as the National Dance Agencies were being developed. In 1990 she became general manager of Adzido Dance, shifting it from being a community project to a professional dance company, and four years later moved to London to be the Arts Council’s director of dance and then director, performing arts. As ACE’s director of culture and education she worked on London’s Olympic bid, but in 2006 took on the new unit, the Cultural Leadership Programme.

The £22m Treasury funded Arts Council programme Carty ran between 2006 and 2011 was much wider in scope, and much better funded, than the Clore being part of the Creative and Cultural Skills Programme and the old Museums, Libraries and Archives Council as well as ACE. It was able to work with the wider sector while the Clore, whose fellows are nominated by sponsor organisations and which has no regular public funding, is a more bespoke operation.

There have, Carty says, been dramatic changes in the cultural scene, not least in funding and technology, that require new skills, some of which have emerged in only the last five years, which means the Clore has had to be flexible and innovative.

In 2011 a series of failures at board level
in the arts and heritage pointed up a need for governance to be addressed. Prue Skene, with
a lifetime in arts management which included being CEO of both Ballet Rambert and the English Shakespeare Company at different times, and a quiver of trusteeships in her belt (she is also chair of Cardboard Citizens), was brought in to run a new module. Her board development programme looks at the challenges of working together in the sector, perceptions of best practice, harnessing clarity of thought, and realising aspirations for board members’ organisations.

This is being extended in January with a series of development days specifically for board chairs and CEOs with their artistic directors focussing on how boards can be guided towards good and practicable conclusions. The first will be in London, another in February in Manchester and the third in March in London again. Go to to find out more.

“But there’s also the fact of being able to go to a programme where you can acquire skills through a learning environment, where you can hone the skills you have, ask questions, learn from professionals in the sector, share experiences” she says. “The cultural sector is homing in on what our leaders require and what we require from our leaders, a vast range of skills and competences.”

Fundraising has always been an essential part of the programme, but when the Clore started the discipline was mostly con ned to an organisation’s development director. Now, fundraising is the responsibility of every member of staff, with subsidy from central and local government having shrunk so dramatically. And the whole world of digital information, from social media to making art on screen, now has to be in a leader’s skillset.

“It’s true that a lot can be learned on the job, but you can enhance those abilities through heightened learning. You also get connected into peer groups, work in art forms and disciplines different from what you’re used to and learn from that, and you become part of a network that stays with you through the rest of your career.”

But although women and men appear in the programme in pretty much equal measure, there are still precious few females at the very top – there are women Clore fellows at the top of Tate, the Scottish National Theatre and the Welsh National Theatre, but that is all. Is that a failure of the Clore programme?

She defends the CLP’s record robustly. “I don’t see our outcomes as failure in any way” she says. “Looking at national roles is one measure of success, but we have other measures of success. Clore alumni are in a range of leadership roles where they can and are making a differ- ence in how culture influences and animates our lives. There’s evidence in senior roles, in mid-career roles, it’s about getting that sense of momentum, and of that we have evidence aplenty”.

The ACE programme and its funding were never re- placed, though independent programmes have grown and these need to be connected via the Clore, the acknowledged mothership of cultural leadership. The programme has an annual turnover of about £1.7m, ridiculously modest compared with what the ACE version had, and Carty is preparing her demand for more government subsidy to ensure that the gold standard is carried across all the cultural and creative sector.

“It will mean we can cast our net wider as we seek to follow developments. One of the benefits of the Clore Leadership Programme is that we can offer a service to the sector at large. We can be a training ground, and that is very much what I would like public funding to respond to.

“To invest in the CLP gives you a one stop shop for investing in the sustainability of cultural leadership, it’s a good strategic investment and a good way to use public funding.”


1962 Born London, UK

1983 BA (Hons) performing arts, Leicester Polytechnic

1986 East Midlands Arts as dance & mime officer

1990 General Manager of Adzido Dance Ensemble

1992 MBA strategic management, University of Westminster, London

1994 Director of dance, Arts Council England

2003  Director of performing arts, London, Arts 
Council England 

2004  Senior policy consultant, Culture and Education 

2006 Director, Cultural Leadership Programme, Arts Council England

2009 Advanced certi cate in coaching

2011  Certi cate in Organisational Development, 
NTL Institute, Oxford 

2012  Sets up Co-Creatives Consulting 

2017 Executive Leadership Programme director, Leading Culture in the 21st Century, King’s College London

2017 Director, Clore Leadership Programme


Print Email