Edition overview

Thank you for reading this edition of CANVAS. This is our first edition since 2020 and it feels like we emerge from two years of considerable challenge and change to a very different landscape in arts and culture to where we were before the pandemic. Whilst we face a period of great uncertainty ahead we also pick up a positive desire for challenging old norms and working practices to thinking of ways in which embracing change can benefit our leading organisations. This next period will be helped by technology and will for many bring a new focus on how arts and culture organisations relate to, support, embrace and engage with their communities.

Successful change and transformation is reliant on great leadership imbued with creativity and passion, and these are characteristics that align beautifully with the arts and culture sector. It is with great pleasure as we return to our CANVAS series we have had the chance to talk with three amazing leaders who really epitomise new thinking and transformation.

Up first is Sara Wajid and Zak Mensah, from Birmingham Museums Trust. This is a pair making their mark in leadership, as co-CEOs overseeing a hugely significant Museums Trust with nine venues and a large capital restoration and transformation project underway, demonstrating a very positive, honest and successful approach to leadership collaboration. The insights shared from Sara and Zak showcase very clear benefits of a shared leadership role, both for the leaders and for the organisation as they bring different skills, viewpoints and experience to the table. With a very strong emphasis on community engagement, together Sara and Zak are transforming the leadership model and the ways in which Birmingham Museums Trust involves and interacts with its audiences.

We were also really excited to have the chance to catch up with Gemma Rolls-Bentley, Chief Curator of Avant Arte whose curatorial and commercial experience combines perfectly in her new role within an organisation committed to making art radically more accessible. Gemma talks about what drew her to Avant Arte, her ambitions and vision in this inaugural role and why the emphasis on community, for artists and art enthusiasts, and its interaction through technology is transforming an approach to commercial art.

We also welcome Todd Heppenstall, Partner and Associate Consultant at Saxton Bampfylde, who joined the business in 2019 and hear more from him in our View from the River feature. Todd comes from an arts background having trained and worked as an actor, and shares his personal and professional insights, as well as some of his top tips and day dreams of holidays.

We do hope you enjoy this edition and welcome any feedback you may have.

Ed Bampfylde & Rosanna Cundall

Arts, Culture and Creative Industries Practice, Saxton Bampfylde


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