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Joshua Lowe: Future Leaders Program

Dec 10, 2018

Joshua is a Tasmanian born dancer, choreographer and producer. A graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts (Bachelor of Dance, 2011), Joshua is regularly engaged as a choreographer for professional, youth and community-based works.



What attracted you to the Leadership Program?

Opportunities within the arts industry in Australia for leadership development are limited, with often no clear trajectory for aspiring artistic directors. For me, working in a regional area has further compounded this challenge. With only a handful of dance organisations and independent dance artists in the state, the demand for leadership and representation is high, but there is little scope to work outside my own organisation, and professional development is always self-driven and in relative isolation. It is also difficult to maintain a connection to the national industry and peers while on the island.

The Leadership Program came at an ideal time for me, and includes key opportunities that address the challenges of growing as an arts leader in Tasmania. I believe the program will help me identify ways in which I can broaden and deepen my experience and leadership practices. I am also excited to join a cohort of emerging leaders from around the country, and to learn from and inspire one another. I was lucky enough to have a number of fantastic mentors in my early career who had a significant impact on my work, and so the chance to engage a new mentor in this next phase is very exciting.

What does leadership in the arts mean to you?

Leaders in the arts range from those at the head of our arts and arts service organisations, to arts advocates, those creating work, teachers and more. Much like any industry, they are those in positions where their work and decisions can enact change on people’s lives and values. Arts leaders are more than that though; they are also caretakers of our culture, and with this comes greater responsibilities.

As a youth and community dance practitioner, it would be remiss of me to solely focus on the artistic outcomes of my own work. As a leader I need to ensure that my work is serving its audiences. More importantly, I feel a responsibility to ensure that I use my work to effect positive change in my community, enhance the lives of young people and those they have relationships with, and facilitate art-making as a way for a community of people to express themselves. As with any kind of leader there is a call to serve, to put the welfare of the many before oneself.

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

The arts plays an undeniably massive role in the health and well-being, education, heritage, cohesion, and growth of and within our communities. Arts leaders are the drivers and caretakers of this, and so I think it is vital that they be given the tools and support to lead effectively and with innovation. The huge potential to enact positive and lasting change in the lives of Australians through the arts is clear, but it can’t happen without driven leadership, and a continued investment in new and emerging leaders.

More so than most other industries, leaders in the arts need to be equipped with additional skills and traits in order to sustain a career, such as enhanced resilience, resourcefulness, empathy, and critical thinking, to name just a few. This greater demand in skillset, coupled with the increased responsibilities (telling our stories, educating our youth, protecting our culture) means it is important we ensure that good leadership is in place, through the development of our leaders.


Joshua formed youth dance company DRILL in Tasmania in 2007, and as Artistic Director has produced and choreographed numerous major works and educational programs for the company since then. In 2014 Joshua was awarded both the Bokprint Arts & Cultural Development Award and The Premier’s Young Achiever of the Year Award, and in 2010 the Regional Arts Australia Volunteer Award for Outstanding Contribution for his work with DRILL. In 2017 DRILL became an incorporated association led by its new Board.

Joshua was recently appointed at the Artistic Director of Melbourne’s pre-professional dance company, Yellow Wheel, after working for the company as Company Manager since 2012. He has made two works for the company, including for I Came Here To Dance Once (2014), which was shortlisted for an Australian Dance Award.

Joshua has worked for Tasdance, having choreographed and delivered their Education Performance Project Bright Spark (2013) and Alter (2014) as well as their DanceNET program in schools (2013). He was the recipient of an Australia Council for the Arts Early Career Residency with Tasdance.

In 2014 Joshua was an Asialink Resident and spent time working in Sumatra with Institut Seni Indonesia, returning in 2017 to perform his solo Black Words in Golden Speech for the Festival Langgam Tari II. Since 2015 he has sat on numerous funding panels, including for Arts Tasmania, Regional Arts Australia, and The Australia Council. 2017 saw Joshua perform in Hermann Nitsch’s 150.Action (Dark Mofo), and choreograph new major work for DRILL, Cold Omens, which was recently awarded Best Production and Best Design at the 2018 Tasmanian Theatre Awards.

See more of Joshua’s work here.

Learn more about the Future Leaders Program.