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Sigrid Macdonald: Future Leaders Program

Jan 15, 2020

Northern Rivers-based arts worker and cultural cultivator, Sigrid Macdonald’s practise targets the intersection of regional Deaf community and culture and the creative arts sector. 



What attracted you to the Leadership Program?

I have been seeking interesting and new ways to connect with others in the sector and develop my own personal and professional practise. As a Deaf woman, and a Mum to young children, it was important that residencies were accessible and family friendly. It was also important to me that diversity was valued and represented in an authentic way. The Future Leaders program seemed to considering these aspects of participants experiences throughout the application and selection process so I felt good about submitting an application.

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

Leadership that pushes the boundaries of perception and understanding of our social environment can often take place within the Arts and cultural sector. The Arts has the power to engage creators and audiences across the range of our community, but still there are people who are included and people who are excluded from experiences. Developing arts leadership in a way that challenges this and broadens the scope and diversity of arts engagement is to me one of the key motivators and drivers for a deeper level of community capacity building.

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

It is already well-recognised that the arts are a tool for social change, however, to truly effect change and growth across our society, we need to ensure that leadership is strongly supported within groups that experience barriers and exclusion. For the arts sector to thrive in this respect, it requires recognition of lived experience expertise, giving value and space for leaders (as artists, arts workers and audiences) to be able to represent their own cultures and experiences, not just be spoken for by others on their behalf. To me, leadership is about moving towards authentic and lasting inclusion.

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

Innovative, inclusive and collaborative.


Northern Rivers-based Arts Worker & Cultural Cultivator Sigrid Macdonald’s practise targets the intersection of regional Deaf community and culture and the creative arts sector. Operating under the banner of Second Nature Strategies, she is informed by her own lived experience of deafness in a unique regional Deaf community, as well as a desire for creative pursuits and connection. She seeks to cultivate connections between political, cultural and public spheres in a practise often termed Cultural Mediation. Recent collaborations involve Deaf community members, regional galleries, festivals, artists and arts/cultural organisations, pushing the barriers of audience engagement.

Lismore Regional Gallery: regular Auslan-led tours allow Deaf visitors to experience and discuss art in their own language, though a Deaf cultural lens. The program launched in 2019 with the Art Gallery of NSW’s touring exhibition of 2018 Archibald Prize finalists.

Local festivals: collaborations with RealArtWorks’ inaugural UnUsual Festival- an inclusive experimental live arts festival to ensure Auslan access at all ticketed events and the Byron Writers Festival, exploring flexible options for providing Auslan access.

Arts Northern Rivers’ Auslan Creative: A workshop series engaging both Deaf and non-Deaf participants via music, visual & performing arts and screen. Creative partners such as NORPA, Lismore Regional Gallery, Northern Rivers Conservatorium and Screenworks will also join the program. A large multi-arts event in Lismore in 2021 aims to interrogate outcomes of this creative development work and engage creative leaders and emerging leaders for the Deaf community.

Learn more about the 2020 Leadership Program participants.