NIDA inspires the next wave of Cultural Leaders

26 February 2018

NIDA’s Head of Props: ‘Just make things, use your hands’

Rebecca Coronel (centre) is inspired to begin her first year of NIDA’s Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership), fitting it into her full-time workload in the museums and galleries sector. (Photo: Rebecca at Museums and Galleries Australia ACT)

‘This course is one of the most dynamic available in the arts in Australia, and one that really focuses on some of the big issues,’ said Rebecca. ‘One of the key things I’ve been interested in is the intersection between leadership and management in arts organisations, and this course presents me with the potential to formalise that practice,’ she said.

Rebecca Coronel (far left) joins a vibrant cohort of Master of Fine Arts students at NIDA in 2018.

Rebecca is currently Assistant Manager, Collections Access at the federal Department of Communications and the Arts. Before that, she managed exhibition programs at the National Museum of Australia, including international programs. She also volunteers on the national committee of Museums Galleries Australia, the industry membership association.

‘While I work in government around funding and policy on collections and exhibitions, I want to look at the big picture. One of the most important issues I am looking at is engaging with First Nations communities on a government level,’ she explained.

‘There has already been a lot of work with First Nations communities around collections. My colleagues at the Department and in collecting institutions are doing great work around repatriating human remains from international collections back to Indigenous communities, and looking at objects and how the knowledge around them can be returned. There are always improvements to be made, constant reconsideration of what is important and getting the right voices into the conversation. This is particularly vital around employment, skills capacity building and how we connect with regional and remote Australia in the arts sector.’

Rebecca has worked extensively on exhibition projects that have tackled contemporary social issues, such as Inside: Life in Children's Homes and Institutions, which allowed the voices of Forgotten Australians to be heard, documented and supported in a government institution.  She has worked on international engagement, such as hosting official delegations from the Singapore Department of Culture and the National Museum of China and delivering the Papunya Paintings - Out of the Australian Desert exhibition to Beijing in 2009 as part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade cultural diplomacy program, Australia Now.

Why does she want to take on the commitment of a master’s course? ‘It’s more than my professional life that I will be bringing to NIDA,’ Rebecca said. ‘It’s certainly a commitment, and yes, time management is a topic that keeps coming up! But I am passionate about my industry and I want to put some time into my own skills development and capacity.’

‘I’m also interested in looking at core skills across the arts. What do you need to move across leadership roles in the arts? We are moving away from the perspective that you have to work in one particular field for 25 years and aim to reach the pinnacle of that field. We all have to be so much more flexible than that.’

‘The plus for me on this course is the dynamic interaction with a really wide diversity of people in the arts. How can we get to a national cultural policy that embraces that diversity? How can we influence things from within the system? I’m interested in influencing the wider picture and I’ll certainly get a lot of ideas from this course to help me do that.’

To register interest in applying for the 2019 intake for MFA (Cultural Leadership), please complete an expression of interest form.