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Penny Camens: Future Leaders Program

Jun 15, 2020

Since graduating from Uni SA, Penny has worked at a range of arts companies, including Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Festival Centre, State Theatre Company of South Australia. Penny is currently the Company Manager at Patch Theatre in South Australia. 



What attracted you to the Leadership Program?

Taking the step from Producing into Company Management at Patch Theatre in 2019 I recognised the opportunity for growth. At this formative time in my career, I am seeking a broad range of experiences to inform my leadership and management capabilities. Based in Adelaide, I appreciate the immense benefits of participating in a national program to increase my exposure to colleagues from around the country and connect with a range of practice and context within the industry. Having the time and space to focus on developing personally and professionally is a rare opportunity. It is a really important link, while working in the sector we go about developing a whole range of skills but how does the next generation get that management experience.

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

Arts is a sector where you have to be so multi-skilled, especially in the small to medium sector. We require such a diversity of skills in each and every day, so there is always something new to learn. I’m excited for the Future Leaders program bringing together a cohort of my peers ready to equip themselves with the skills to imagine the future of our sector. This is a launchpad to create the opportunities that we want to see and make sure that we are creating pathways for others to come along with us. Great leadership is key to inspiring action and passion.

Are there ideas around leadership that need to change for our sector to thrive? Are the current notions of leadership still relevant?

Adapting to change and innovation to stay connected with community is vital, forcing leaders to rethink the old models and provoking increased collaboration. We really see the traditional power structures cracking open, with a growing diversity of voices coming to the forefront. To ensure our sector survives and thrives, is the greatest challenge facing leaders and the evolution of leadership is ongoing.

What are the top three qualities of leaders that inspire you?

Passion, innovation and authenticity.


Penny joined Patch Theatre in December 2018 in the role of Company Manager. Her skills are in logistical management of performing arts touring, after 6 years working as Arts Programs Associate Producer for Country Arts SA. This included working with many companies touring the regions, such as Circa, State Theatre SA, Vitalstatistix, Artback NT, Performing Lines, Gravity and Other Myths, Windmill Theatre and Patch Theatre.

Since graduating from Uni SA, Penny has worked at a range of arts companies, including Adelaide Fringe, Adelaide Festival Centre, State Theatre Company of South Australia, MONA FOMA, Junction (Launceston) and Kumuwuki (Goolwa) Regional Arts Conferences. Taking time out to travel, she worked with Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and Assembly Rooms at Edinburgh Fringe. Penny has also worked as producer on a number of independent shows.

Learn more about the 2020 Leadership Program participants.