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Colette Vella: Arts Leaders Program

Dec 10, 2018

Colette Vella has had over 20 years experience as an arts professional. Her background is mostly in book publishing, where she has worked as an editor or publisher for companies including Allen & Unwin in Sydney, Melbourne University Publishing and Granta Books in London. 


What attracted you to the Leadership Program?

At this juncture of my career, I am keen harness what I have learned through study and experience to ensure that I can play my part in leading Australia to make great art. The Leadership Program presents me with the perfect way to continue in this direction.  The program will focus my generalist MBA studies, from a broad corporate business, back into my specific area of commitment and expertise – arts and culture.

I am particularly attracted in learning with and from my peers in the industry, and the invaluable network effects created by the program. On the flip side, I am also interested in contributing to the learning of my peers by sharing my own expertise and insights.  Finally, this program is attractive for the exposure it provides to international practice, as I feel I have much to learn in my current role and future from looking beyond my local shores. Similarly, I am interested in sharing Australian practice with my international colleagues, as I feel as a nation we have a unique perspective to impart.

What does leadership in the arts mean to you?

For me, arts leadership is about enabling creativity to succeed. It’s about creating the conditions that enable staff and practitioners the space to be creative and to take risks. It’s about laying down the practical business foundations upon which art can bubble and thrive. And it’s about bringing people along with you, not just loyally, but successfully, so that the mission you’ve created together is fulfilled …. and then some!

Why do you think it is important to develop Arts Leaders?

As in many industries, people in the arts often become accidental managers and leaders, through subject matter expertise, rather than through management training. A focus on developing art leaders is about ensuring Australia is well placed on the world stage to succeed as a producer of art and culture.


In 2008, she was named a Distinguished Editor by the Institute of Professional Editors and was the recipient of an Australia Council Editorial Fellowship to New York, where she spent three months researching the relationship between authors and their literary agents and publishers. In 2015 she made the switch over to the performing arts, taking up her current position as Director of Business Development, Education at Musica Viva Australia, where she leads a team of musicians, educators and administrators to deliver the country’s leading independent music education program.

Learn more about the Leadership Programs.