Please note: Some of the content on this page was published prior to the launch of Creative Australia and references the Australia Council. Read more.

Future Form: Transforming Arts Business Models

An opportunity for small to medium arts organisations

Future Form is an opportunity for small to medium arts organisations to transform and innovate their core business model.

In a supported environment, led by industry experts, up to 24 participants from 12 organisations will be guided through a four-phase process to:

  • discover
  • ideate
  • experiment
  • evolve.

Future Form provides time and space for participants to reimagine and respond to the future.

Participants will use a range of design techniques to interrogate the value proposition of their organisation; and identify practical solutions and next steps. The program includes a range of activities including online learning sessions, intensive residential labs, individual coaching sessions and peer support.

For more details about the program, including key dates and requirements, please see our FAQ section.

Future Form is for small to medium arts organisations from around Australia. Two representatives from each organisation will participate in the program and only one application per organisation is required. Future Form is also open to groups or collectives who are planning to form an organisation.

We strongly encourage organisations affected by the recent bushfires to apply for this program, and these applications will be prioritised. 

For more details about the eligibility requirements of participants and their organisations, please see our FAQ section.

Organisations can apply via our online application system. The application includes a short introductory video, written responses to four questions that address the selection criteria and optional support material.

Each organisation must nominate two participants. If you have access requirements, please get in touch so we can assist you.

  • Why is the program relevant for your organisation at this time?
  • How has your organisation explored and managed change so far?
  • As the representatives from your organisation, how will you embrace the learning opportunity provided by Future Form, working together and with other participants to make the most of the program? One response for each participant.
  • How does your organisation see its role as champions in transforming the sustainability of our sector?
  • A three-minute video to introduce your organisation, what it does and why.
  • LinkedIn URLs for each individual participant.
  • Any relevant support material for your application that demonstrates your organisation’s openness, motivation and commitment to innovation. One attachment only and support material is optional.

Successful organisations pay an administration fee of $1,500. This fee is based on an investment by Australia Council of over $15,000 per organisation throughout the program. Please contact us for financial support if required, as no organisation is discouraged from applying due to financial reasons.

Please see our FAQ section for more information about the application process, the video component and support material.

Applications will be reviewed internally and alongside external advisors. Your application will be based on merit, response to the selection criteria below, and in line with Australia Council’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Selection criteria

  • Timeliness and relevance of the program to your organisation’s development.
  • An active and open approach to organisational change management.
  • Drive and motivation of each participant to collaborate and experiment with diverse ways of learning and connecting.
  • Commitment to exploring and implementing solutions for the sustainability of the arts sector.

We are looking for applications from a range of art forms from across Australia. Applicants may be invited for an interview.

For more details about the application and selection process, please see our FAQ section.

Diversity and access: Leadership Program

The Australia Council encourages applications from people who identify as First Nations, from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people with disability and people living in regional and remote areas.

We actively work with individuals to support access needs – including childcare, cultural practices, financial and/or learning access needs as required. We encourage applicants to contact us via phone or email to discuss further.

Download the RTF version of this page.

Future Form is presented nationally
with our delivery partner, the Australian,

Future Form coach: Tony Shannon

Tony Shannon is a specialist in operating and growing businesses in the creative sector. Originally studying writing, Tony worked for 20+ years in senior management roles in digital and creative businesses, particularly print, then digital and mobile publishing. He was part of the management team for the successful IPO of HWW Limited in Dotcom ’99 and a director of the ASX-listed entity until its sale to ninemsn in 2006. He was also a founder and CEO of Australian Property Monitors, a joint-venture between HWW and Fairfax Media.

Tony is a specialist in the 21st century business environment – for digital, non-digital and creative businesses. 


Lydia Fairhall 

Lydia Fairhall is a singer/songwriter, festival curator, theatre and film producer, freelance writer and artistic director with over twenty years of experience across remote and urban communities. 

Working across a wide range of disciplines, her work history includes Executive Producer/Co CEO  for ILBIJERRI Company Theatre, where she designed and delivered Jack Charles V The Crown (New Zealand and Japan tours), Which Way Home (national tour), the development of major scale works, Black Ties and Bagurrk and seeded several artist and sector development programs including Blackwrights, the ILBIJERRI Ensemble and the Executive Mentorship Program. Previously Lydia was a Producer for Queensland Performing Arts Centre and Head of Programming for Footscray Community Arts Centre, producing shows such as Stradbroke Dreamtime (Out of the Box/Queensland Theatre), The Hamburg Season (Hamburg Orchestra, Opera and Ballet) Bloodland (Bangarra Dance Theatre/Sydney Theatre Company) and My Lovers Bones (Melbourne Festival). She was also the Creative Director of Footscray Community Arts Centre’s annual and much loved Wominjeka Festival, 2014-2018.


Future Form facilitator: Tarra van Amerongen

Tarra van Amerongen is the Managing Director of ustwo design studio in Sydney whose clients include Qantas, Google and CBA. Her team works with corporates and startups alike to bring new value propositions to market by combining design, technology and data.

Tarra was previously at ANZi, a venturing unit at ANZ Bank where she was the Director of Strategic Design, responsible for setting up the design capability for start-ups being built across Australia and developing the methodology for venturing. Before this she was the Group Director for the Fjord Sydney and Canberra studios, accountable for managing client relationships, finance and commercials, people, creative outputs, and operations for both studios as well as running the Business Design practice across Australia and New Zealand.


Future Form coach: Gauri Bhalla

Gauri founded and runs a small business. She is an expert in revenue creation: customer identification, attraction, retention and shared value. In her own business, Curious Collective, she has designed and delivered contracts ranging from $5k to $1m. She helps leaders think creatively and do differently.

She can see and monetise value in education and creative programs and has captured value for organisations such as Sydney Opera House, School of Life, ACO, TEDxSYDNEY, CBA, Department of Education, Ricoh, Lion, Unilever, Remarkable and Stockland. 

She loves to leverage and explore value with her network of contacts and will often bring relevant contacts to engagements to help and share expertise and connections.


Diversity in Leadership

This information session was held in September 2019 for arts and cultural practitioners with disability to find out more about the Australia Council Leadership Program.

In this session, we hear from Future Leaders Alumni, Dan Graham, in conversation with Director of Capacity Building at Australia Council, Kevin du Preez. Dan talks about his experience of the Future Leaders Program, including what a residential looks like, how he approached the application process and where he did his secondment.

This session was developed in partnership with Accessible Arts, NSW peak arts and disability organisation.


What does leadership look like in 2020?

We are delighted to announce the next cohort of leaders to take part in our 2020 leadership programs. These individuals will transform their knowledge, skills and capabilities. 2020 also marks the first year of the Custodianship Program adding to our commitment to our First Nations people(s) as our cultural Elders and leaders.

Grounded in respect, generosity and listening, the programs tackle the big issues and opportunities faced by arts workers. Participants explore new ways of thinking and enact the potential of creativity for change.

The Australia Council Leadership Programs are dedicated to transforming our sector’s knowledge, skills and capabilities by supporting emerging and established leaders.


Arts and Culture Governance Report

The Australia Council is pleased to partner with the Institute of Community Directors (ICDA) and Our Community to publish the Arts and Culture Governance Spotlight Report. The report highlights the unique nature of our sector but also provides an effective comparison and benchmark with other not-for-profit companies and organisations. The research validates our understanding of the current state of governance in the arts and highlights new insights about governance practices that we should respond to. The report reinforces that what we face in the arts is felt across the not-for-profit sector.

Ensuring the sustainability of arts organisations is vital to a creatively connected nation. Our cultural and creative sectors are facing significant forces of change and evolution. It is no longer possible to rely on traditional business models, modes of operation or engagement. 


Creative Connections: an online learning series for the arts and creative sector

Learn. Adapt. Respond. 

Creative Connections is an online webinar series for the cultural and arts sectors and will offer practical, accessible and useful content delivered by industry experts on key topics and emerging themes.

As a direct response to the current challenges faced by the arts sector, we acknowledge the isolation felt by artists and practitioners at this time, and the impact that temporary closure of many arts organisations is having on our collective wellbeing.

Watch now the recorded sessions.


Future Form: Transforming arts business models FAQs

Future Form is a professional development program for small to medium arts organisations in Australia. The program is designed to transform organisations through innovative thinking to become more resilient and sustainable. The program provides time and space under expert guidance to develop business models that meet immediate and future challenges.

Through a four-phase process, DISCOVER, IDEATE, EXPERIMENT and EVOLVE, up to 24 participants from 12 small to medium arts organisations, will use human-centred design to interrogate the value proposition of their organisation and identify practical strategies to both reimagine and respond to the future.

The program includes online learning, zoom sessions, intensive labs (including one residential), expert facilitation, individual coaching and peer support.

The program is a combination of online sessions and in-person workshops. The first residential lab will be in the Gold Coast and the second lab will be based at the Australia Council office in Sydney.


Please note due to Covid-19, the first lab may be held online. We will confirm the details as soon as possible.

The program runs from September 2020 – February 2021 and involves both online sessions and in-person labs. The dates for the sessions and workshops are listed on the program page. The online sessions are scheduled from 7.30pm AEST on the listed dates. Each of the two workshops will run over two days, Friday and Saturday, excluding travel time.

Attendance at all online sessions and are compulsory and applicants must confirm their availability to attend in the application form.


Please note due to Covid-19, the first lab may be held online. We will confirm the details as soon as possible.

To make the most of the experience you should expect to dedicate at least four hours a week to Future Form from July to November 2020. Most of this time will be structured with zoom sessions, readings, exercises and journaling. In the lead-up to the two residentials additional preparation time will be required.

Future Form is delivered in partnership with the Australia Council and Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS). AFTRS will facilitate the program alongside key speakers and guests. You can find out more information about the facilitators on the program website.

Successful Future Form applicant organisations will incur an administration fee of $1,500. The Australia Council will invest more than $15,000 per organisation throughout the program.

We encourage you to contact us for financial support if required, as no organisation is discouraged from applying due to financial reasons.

Australia Council will provide a $600 stipend to contribute towards travel for organisations to attend the labs. This table shows what will be included in each residential:

Residential 1: Gold Coast Hinterlands Residential 2: Australia Council, Sydney
Travel No No
Accommodation Yes No

All meals excluding drinks

Lunch only

Please note due to Covid-19, the first lab may be held online. We will confirm the details as soon as possible.

Future Form is an opportunity for participants to develop and experiment with new and innovative models for their organisations. The program provides a supported environment to test these ideas with a view to longer term implementation and sustainability.

We want to ensure inclusive learning for all and are committed to providing a safe and accessible program for everyone. We work with individual participants to support specific needs. If you have access requirements, a young baby or family, cultural practices or any other specific needs, please let us know how we can best support you through the application stage as well as throughout the program.

Future Form invites applications from organisations, with a maximum of two employees from the organisation to participate in the program. Individuals will be asked to reflect on their motivations for applying and on their organisation’s readiness in the application.

This program is designed for small to medium arts organisations working in a range of art forms around Australia. We invite applications from diverse organisational structures of various scales. Groups or collectives who are planning to form an organisation are also eligible to apply. Two employees from the organisation are required to participate in the program. These applicants must be listed in your application.

We strongly encourage organisations affected by the recent bushfires to apply for this program, and these applications will be prioritised. 

Each organisation can select two participants for the program, and there are no formal requirements for each participant. Individuals who participate in Future Form need to understand the organisation’s challenges and opportunities and be in a position to implement organisational change.

Videos are not compulsory for your application, but we highly encourage you to consider including a short video as it gives the assessors an insight into your organisation and its purpose. If you choose not to submit a video, please provide a written response to the question.

Please make sure the video is no longer than 3 minutes. Please submit your video as a URL link (YouTube, vimeo, dropbox, googledrive).

It is optional to include one additional support material to your application. Your chosen support material should demonstrate your organisation’s experience in innovation, through past projects or events, or willingness to implement change. This may include previous projects, a support letter from your board, articles/publications, etc. Support material may be a PDF, JPG, Video or word document.

Your application will be assessed internally at the Australia Council alongside our partners, the Australian Film, Radio and Television School (AFTRS) and with the advice of industry experts and leaders. Applications will be assessed on merit, and in relation to the selection criteria provided. Please respond to the selection criteria in your application.

The program is designed to bring together a diverse range of applicants from organisations around the country and we work to ensure a balance between geographic locations and artforms. This will be considered in the assessment process.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people with disability and people living in regional and remote areas are encouraged to apply.

Applicants will be notified of their application approximately six weeks after the closing date.

Whether your organisation is currently supported by Australia Council, has been in the past, or has never been will not affect your application.

Once you have created an account, and successfully entered our Application Management System (AMS), select ‘Apply for a Grant’ from the left panel menu. From there, select the program you wish to apply for. If you are not ready to submit your application you can return to it through ‘Your draft applications’ in the left panel menu at a later date.

Please click on the ‘Create an Account’ button to register for access to our Application Management System (AMS). When your registration is approved, you will receive an Australia Council email containing your login information. This will give you access to our AMS, and then apply for Future Form. Make sure you register well before the closing date. It can take up to two business days to process your registration.

If you cannot find an answer to your question in this booklet or would like to talk through any access requirements you may have, please feel free to send us an email at or call us directly on 02 9215 9036. We look forward to hearing from you!