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The Australia Council for the Arts is presenting a suite of activities from next month to develop the leadership skills of people with disability and enhance their access to leadership roles across the cultural sector.

Australia Council Chief Executive Officer Tony Grybowski said the events aligned with the Council’s Disability Action Plan by encouraging people with disability to participate in the arts and delivering a leadership program for artists and arts workers with disability.

These events build on our initiatives to improve access for people with disability announced in December last year, such as the Artists with Disability funding program, increased funding to national peak body Arts Access Australia and the launch of the Council’s Disability Action Plan for 2014-2016, Mr Grybowski said.

The Council is inviting applications from cultural leaders and influencers with disability to participate in a five-day intensive leadership development program to be held in Sydney from 22 to 26 October.

The Sync Leadership program will be presented by Jo Verrent, a UK-based artist, producer and consultant with disability who specialises in diversity and access, and is a Senior Producer with the Unlimited Festival.

Jo believes that different’ is delicious not divergent and that it adds vibrancy and texture within the cultural sector.

She works with arts and cultural agencies, organisations and individuals to create policy which promotes diversity and recognises the benefits of employing people with disability in leadership roles within the cultural sector.

The Sync Leadership program will provide up to 12 people with disability training in leadership and coaching.

Following the five-day intensive, each member will be offered coaching sessions over six months with Jo or Sarah Pickthall, the co-creator of the Sync program.

Mr Grybowski said the Council had also engaged Jo to present a series of public forums next month in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide to enable anyone interested in applying for the program, or more generally in leadership within the arts or disability sector, to meet Jo and benefit from her expertise.

The forums are being presented in partnership with Arts NSW, Arts Victoria, Arts Queensland and Arts SA, with presentation support from Carriageworks, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Adelaide Festival Centre and Malthouse Theatre.

Arts Access Australia CEO Emma Bennison said she was thrilled the Council was bringing Jo to Australia.

Jo is an extraordinary and authentic leader whose expertise will inform and engage the arts and cultural sector in an important and long overdue conversation about how to increase leadership by people with disability.

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