The Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership) is a unique opportunity for creative professionals from all backgrounds to take their career to the next level and start their journey as a cultural leader.
The arts and creative industries are evolving rapidly. We need leaders with an understanding of cultural policy and the broader landscape, who have the entrepreneurial and advocacy skills to drive innovation, inclusion, growth and sustainability across the cultural sectors.
This landmark course is available to professionals from a range of arts and cultural sectors, including the performing arts, visual arts, museums, galleries and those working in the cultural areas within local authorities and government organisations.
The MFA (Cultural Leadership) draws on NIDA’s national and international connections to create study pathways balancing practice-based learning with theoretical frameworks. Students engage with practitioners and innovators from different cultural sectors, whilst conducting their own investigation of what it means to be a leader in our creative community. Students also have the opportunity to participate in an international placement with a major arts or cultural organisation.
NIDA is proud to have leading arts advocates, Robyn Archer AO and Dr Cheryl Stock AM as Chair and Head, respectively, of the MFA (Cultural Leadership) course. Both women are highly accomplished influential creative leaders in Australia and internationally, and their guidance will ensure this course plays a pivotal role in shaping Australia’s creative and cultural future.
Video one: Want to know more about this course? Robyn Archer, Chair of MFA (Cultural Leadership) explains
Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership) CRICOS CODE 086128F (full-time mode)
Interviews and how to apply
Applications will be open July–September 2017, to study at NIDA in 2018.
Full details about how to apply will be available from July 2017. Entry to the course is by interview. All applications received by 30 September will receive an interview place. Interviews will be held across Australia between late October and early December 2017. Late applications may be considered if interview places are still available.
Applicants must have:
- An undergraduate degree, or
- At least five years’ documented professional experience in the arts, cultural, creative or other relevant sector/s, including evidence of sector leadership experience.
How to prepare
1. Prepare your Personal Statement
- Prepare a personal statement of no more than 600 words outlining your interest in the course.
- This should be uploaded with your application.
- For more details please download and read the Application Guide and Checklist
2. Demonstrate at interview why you want to work in the arts and entertainment industry.
- You should prepare a detailed CV highlighting your education and training, professional work and other relevant information.
- You will also need to provide proof of your university degree/s or five years of professional experience in a relevant area. This can be a photocopy of a transcript of testamur from the awarding institution; if you are offered a place in the course you will be required to provide a certified copy.
NIDA may keep all or part of your work until the final selection of applicants is made. Make sure your name is clearly marked on all submitted materials. Ensure you keep a copy of all written work, as this will not be returned.
What to expect on the day
Cultural Leadership - What to expect on the day
- Interviews are conducted by two NIDA staff members in person or via Skype. There will be an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have about the course or about NIDA. All applicants will be interviewed to assess capacity for leadership; interviews will last for approximately 30 minutes.
- During the interview we will discuss your ideas about current issues related to the arts and cultural sector and why you want to be a Cultural Leadership student at NIDA.
- If you are shortlisted you will be invited for a second 45 minute interview with a panel of NIDA staff.
- NIDA recognises that interviews can be stressful, but every effort will be made to ensure your experience will be as relaxing and enjoyable as possible with a process that is informal and open. Remember, the more time and effort you put into preparing for your interview, the more you will benefit from the interview and discussion. The interview is designed to give you the very best opportunity to indicate your potential and readiness to study at NIDA. Please note that it is not possible to provide individual feedback to applicants after the interview process.
Cultural Leadership - Interview tips
- Preparation! The more time and effort you put into interview preparation in advance, the more confident you’ll be and the more you will benefit from the interview and discussion.
- Come with a clear idea of why you want to study Cultural Leadership at NIDA.
- Plan your journey to the interview. Give yourself plenty of travel time to allow for delays.
- We know that interviews can be stressful, but every effort will be made to ensure your experience will be as interesting and enjoyable as possible. The interview is designed to give you the very best opportunity to show your potential and readiness to study at NIDA.
Selection of students
Cultural Leadership - Selection of students
We select applicants who demonstrate commitment, capacity and willingness to advance their practice by:
- Working creatively
- Collaborating as part of a creative team
- Demonstrating a range of relevant skills and technical abilities
- Providing evidence of intellectual enquiry and reflection within their work
- Communicating clearly
NIDA encourages applications from students from diverse backgrounds, with different levels of experience in theatre, film, television or other areas.
Due to the volume of interviews carried out, we are unable to provide you with individual feedback. The decision of the audition panel is final.
It is not possible to defer an offer of a place at NIDA.
If you have any further questions about the application process, please contact:
Phone: +61 (02) 9697 7614
215 Anzac Parade
Kensington NSW 2033
We require all international applicants to:
- attend an interview in Australia, although an initial interview can be conducted through Skype or equivalent
- be aware of the visa conditions and financial obligations you are required to meet as an overseas student
- accept full responsibility for all arrangements concerning entry into, and residence in, Australia (including visas and health insurance)
- have an English language proficiency equivalent to an overall band score of 8.0 IELTS and bring evidence of your English language capability to your interview. Information on IELTS and testing centres in your country is available at www.ielts.org.
International students are able to apply for all full time courses at NIDA. Please note Cultural Leadership will only be offered part time in 2017.
International students should select the option ‘International- Offshore Applicant’ during the application process. A representative from NIDA will then be in touch via email to organise an interview over Skype which will suit both you and our staff. International students applying for BFA Acting must complete their audition in Australia.
For more information on applying as an international student, see international students.
Age and education requirements
- All applicants applying for a graduate course at NIDA must have completed an undergraduate degree (in any area) or have five years relevant experience in a related area.
- Students must be proficient in written and spoken English, with international applicants required to have an English language proficiency equivalent to an overall band score of IELTS 8.0. Information on IELTS and testing centres in your country is available at http://www.ielts.org/
The MFA (Cultural Leadership) is offered in part-time mode only, over a 30 month period. In the first 12 months of the course, students undertake the subjects Cultural Transformation and Sustainability (60 credit points), Leadership and Governance (15 credit points), and Contextualising Practice (15 credit points). In the next 18 months students undertake Communication and Advocacy (15 credit points), Cultural Policy and Practice (15 credit points), and Generating Research through Practice (30 credit points), with International Placement (30 credit points) taking place in the first six months of the following year.
The course is structured to enable students to participate on-campus through four five–day intensives (which include weekends) each year and via supported online learning throughout the year. Travel and accommodation to attend intensives is at the expense of the student.
Intensives for first year students in 2017 will be held on the following dates, and all students must be available to participate for the full period (including evenings as required):
- 23–28 January inclusive
- 29 April–4 May inclusive
- 4–8 August inclusive
- 1–4 November inclusive
Online learning and teaching will take place between the residential intensives. Students need to be available to engage on a regular basis and will be required to equip themselves with the necessary technology to participate. Details of the technology requirements can be found under the 'Interviews and how to apply' tab.
All students will undertake an international placement during the final six months of the course. The airfare and a capped contribution to expenses will be provided by NIDA for these placements.
Applicants must have:
- An undergraduate degree, or
- At least five years’ documented professional experience in the arts, cultural, creative or other relevant sector/s, including evidence of sector leadership experience.
Cultural Transformation and Sustainability (Lead subject – 60 credit points)
Cultural Transformation and
Sustainability addresses the challenges and opportunities faced by cultural
leaders in both industry and community contexts.
Leadership and Governance (15 credit points)
Leadership and Governance
This subject assesses and analyses the styles of leadership of cultural organisations, and how they are governed, including the roles and responsibilities of the Board of Directors and its relationship to the senior executive team and the organisation as a whole. It explores the legislation that underpins not-for-profit organisations and assesses the value and opportunities provided by alternative frameworks.
Placing the arts and cultural sector in context, the subject delivers a comprehensive review of the components and attributes of leadership within a range of social and institutional contexts. Further, it examines major leadership theories and leadership styles, key competencies and outcomes and applies critical analysis and judgement to review the individual leadership preferences and behaviours of the participating student cohort.
Communication and Advocacy (15 credit points)
Communication and Advocacy will develop articulate leaders who are adept at communicating and presenting ideas within a range of settings including the workplace, conferences, large public gatherings, and corporate and government events across the Creative Industries. This subject will also enhance effective leadership strategies in relation to advocacy and media presentations. Recognising the importance of cultural leaders as front-line advocates for the sector, students will learn to articulate complex ideas with clarity, confidence and credibility across multiple media – written, live and recorded. Acting techniques and storytelling structures and principles will be taught by practicing professionals to assist students to create engaging presentations. Students will also learn to lead and facilitate groups in creative dialogue employing techniques for fuelling and directing conversations such as the poetics of improvisation.
Workshops will support students to assess and develop individual communication styles and competencies through practicing workplace scenarios, presenting to camera, exploring techniques to develop vocal and physical presence, networking, and engaging in techniques of persuasion.
Practical work will be underpinned by examination and critical analysis of major communication theories and evaluation of case studies of successful communicators and advocates. Students will assess and determine those elements that enhance their own abilities as leaders to articulate ideas and to influence outcomes.
Cultural Policy and Practice (15 credit points)
Cultural Policy and Practice provides an in-depth analysis of the policy framework and structure for cultural development within Australia, also encompassing international perspectives.
This subject sets the current culture policy and priorities within an historical context, analysing how the emphasis has shifted over time, and assessing the key drivers for these shifts. It reviews cultural policy at both macro and micro levels, taking account of perspectives from policy makers, government funded organisations, and individual artists and leaders. This comprehensive approach provides a rich panoply of perspectives and opinions, enabling the identification and analysis of key pros and cons of policy characteristics and impacts.
Cultural Policy and Practice compares and contrasts the key attributes of the Australian model with approaches from the international arena, with particular reference to contemporary developments in the Asia Pacific region.
International Placement (30 credit points)
The International Placement is a unique opportunity for students to deepen their knowledge and frame of experience through an immersive period of international work experience. The key objective of the placement will be to undertake a defined case study of an aspect of leadership within the host organisation. The case study will be framed by bespoke learning objectives and outcomes defined to enhance leadership capacity. The experience will include the delivery of a report as the outcome of action research.
This subject has pre-requisites.
Prerequisites are the successful completion of:
- Cultural Transformation and Sustainability
- Leadership and Governance
- Contextualising Practice
- Generating Research Through Practice (Assessment Tasks 1 and 2)
Contextualising Practice (15 credit points)
This subject develops students’ understanding of their site of cultural endeavour within the framework of a wider field of contemporary cultural enterprise. It is designed to facilitate engagement by arts practitioners as well as producers, executives and managers, with a view to contextualising the practice of a wide range of creative and cultural professionals.
The subject begins by introducing critical thinking, and a survey of relevant cultural studies frameworks. The remainder of the subject is divided into modules that explore critical frameworks through which cultural practice might be understood. Through a series of lectures and practical workshops students develop an applied research portfolio. Experiential learning through participating in the ‘sensate studio’ workshops introduces students to the science behind sensory perception, empathy, intuition and concepts of play; which are key drivers behind creativity and innovation in the cultural sector.
The final assessment task brings together the disparate modules by inviting students to demonstrate and reflect on how their practice as creative artists and cultural practitioners has been facilitated by the variety of critical lenses and cultural practices to which the course has introduced them.
Generating Research through Practice (30 credit points)
This subject introduces students to a diversity of research frameworks that directly support and inform their practice within the arts and cultural sectors, underpinned by academic research protocols including ethics. A variety of research strategies will support them in a multimodal approach to their investigations around practice, using methods inherent in practice-based research. In this subject, students identify a research topic and design to support their research project, applying the methods and processes they have explored in order to generate new findings. The key concept behind this subject is praxis: the interdependency of theory and practice with one mutually informing the other. The subject culminates in the writing of a research article related to their practice, to be considered for publication in an appropriate journal.
Tuition fees for domestic students, see international students for costs for international students.
Course starts from 27 January 2017.
The tuition fees are reviewed each year and if you enrol you are liable for the additional tuition costs if the tuition fees rise during the course of your enrolments.
Tuition fees overview
|Degree||Course duration||2017 Annual tuition fee $AUD*||Estimated total course tuition fee*|
|Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership)||30 months||N/A||$30,240|
Tuition fee details
|Subject code||Subject||Credit points||EFTSL**||Tuition fee*|
|CUL9101||Cultural Leadership and Sustainability||60||0.333||$10,080.00|
|CUL9102||Leadership and Governance||15||0.083||$2,520.00|
|Total for Year 1||90||0.5||$15,120.00|
|CUL9103||Communication and Advocacy||15||$2,520.00|
|CUL9104||Cultural Policy and Practice||15||$2,520.00|
|Total for Year 1||90||$15,120.00*|
|Total Estimated Tuition Fees*||180||1.5||$30,240.00*|
* The tuition fees are reviewed each year and you are liable for the additional tuition costs if the tuition fees rise during the course of your enrolment.
** EFTSL - Effective Fulltime Study Load: indicates the relative study load of a subject against a full time study load of 1.0 for academic year.
The Cultural Leadership course is structured to enable students to participate through week-long and weekend intensives, field trips and online learning. All students will also undertake an international placement during the final six months of the course. The airfare and a capped contribution ($5000) to expenses will be provided by NIDA for these placements.
Online learning and teaching will take place between the residential intensives. Students need to be available to engage on a regular basis and will be required to equip themselves with the necessary technology to participate. Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership) students may participate in online sessions via video-conferencing or in person at the Kensington campus.
Intensives are arranged as three week long periods each year and all students must be available to participate for the full period (including evenings as required).
Travel and accommodation to attend intensives is at the expense of the student.
During on campus intensives students will have access to the graduate school and all facilities that are provided to all NIDA graduate students.
Information Technology Recommendations
To access NIDA wireless (iWIRE) network, students are required to have access to a Laptop (Windows 7 and later), Macbook (Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard or later) or a Tablet (less than three years old with wireless facility). All the devices should comply with 802.11a/b/g/n WPA-Enterprise security. All notebooks should be secured with a Kensington lock to help prevent theft.
For file transfers and data backup, a 500GB hard drive or higher and an 8GB USB stick are also recommended, as is a DVD burner, for optimum visual graphics on your computer(Laptop/MacBook/Desktop etc.) a 1GB dedicated graphics card is recommended but not required.
Domestic and international students are required to pay tuition fees by the due date on their invoice.
Domestic students are Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and New Zealand citizens.
Fees and financial assistance vary for international students see international students for full details.
Australian citizens and holders of permanent humanitarian visas are eligible for an Australian Government FEE-HELP loan for all or part of their tuition fees. For more information about FEE-HELP please read the information below and visit Study Assist.
FEE-HELP is the Australian Government loan scheme that assists eligible students to pay their tuition fees, so that students do not have to pay tuition fees up-front. FEE-HELP can cover all or part of a student's tuition fees. For 2015, the FEE-HELP lifetime limit is $97,728.
The government pays the amount of the loan directly to NIDA. Students repay their loan through the tax system once their incomes rises above the minimum threshold for compulsory repayment.
For more information go to studyassist.gov.au
Who is eligible for FEE-HELP?
You are eligible for a FEE-HELP loan if you are either:
- an Australian Citizen; or
- hold a permanent humanitarian visa.
The following students are NOT eligible for FEE-HELP:
- New Zealand citizens - refer to the Study Assist website
- Australian permanent residents
- Overseas students.
Entry requirements FAQs
Entry requirements for each course are available under the ‘Interviews and how to apply’ tab on individual course pages.
Is there a maximum age restriction for students?
There is no maximum age restriction for any NIDA undergraduate or graduate course.
How do I apply for a full-time course at NIDA?
The first step is to fill in an application form, available online from 1 July – 30 September. You must then prepare for your audition or interview, the details of which can be found on the course pages.
Can I apply for more than one course?
Yes, however a separate online application form and payment of application fee $150.00 will be required for each course you would like to apply for.
My application form isn’t working/loading!
Online applications are open from 1 July to 30 September annually.
If you are having difficulty using the online application form, check your internet browser: Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari are the recommended browsers. You should also turn off any security that blocks pop-ups, as this may prevent the application screen from opening.
What do I do if the interview dates are not suitable?
NIDA aims to accommodate all Australian states during the audition/ interview period. If the dates provided are not suitable to individuals we will try to work with you to create a suitable alternative.
If you cannot attend any of the available dates during the application process, please select the option ‘Other- Dates provided not suitable’ and email email@example.com to discuss further options
International students (all courses other than acting) should select the option ‘International- Offshore Applicant’ a representative from NIDA will then be in touch via email to organise an interview over Skype which will suit both you and our staff.
What do I do if I haven’t received details of my interview?
Once you have submitted your application and paid your application fee you will be emailed a receipt as well as further details regarding preparation for your audition/ interview. If you do not receive any emails from NIDA please check your junk/ spam filter or promotions filter (Gmail). If you are still experiencing difficulties please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
What do I need to prepare for my interview?
Does NIDA give audition/ interview feedback?
Due to the large number of people being auditioned/ interviewed, it is not possible for NIDA to provide individual feedback, either orally or in writing. However, the audition/ interview are learning experiences, particularly through the opportunity in the auditions to observe the presentation of audition pieces by other applicants and any redirection suggestions provided to you or other applicants by members of the audition panel.
Where will my interview take place?
During your online application you will have the opportunity to select the date and location of your audition/ interview. The specific location details will be sent to you with your receipt once you have submitted a complete application form. You will also be sent further information for how you can change the location/ date of your audition/ interview if necessary. Please note that NIDA reserves the right to amend your audition/ interview date/ location at any time depending on availability.
What happens after my interview?
Final selections are made for each course by mid- December when study offers will be distributed to successful applicants via email.
Please note applicants who do not make it through to the recall stage for Bachelor of Fine Arts (Acting) and Master of Fine Arts (Directing) courses have not been successful for the 2017 intake.
Studying at NIDA FAQs
How are NIDA’s courses structured?
NIDA offers a conservatoire based method of education and training based around intensive practice-based learning.
There is formal class work, practical instruction, lectures and, for some courses, periods of placements in the arts industry. Each course has dedicated time to discipline-specific immersion, as well as common subjects undertaken by students of all disciplines.
NIDA Play Productions and screen work provides practical learning experiences, giving students the opportunity to apply learnt technical skills. Play productions are an important part of NIDA’s higher education courses with usually five productions being produced each semester.
More detailed information about course structure can be found on the individual course pages.
What facilities does NIDA offer?
NIDA’s award winning campus includes a range of facilities available to students:
- the Parade Theatre, seating over 700 people, is equipped with advanced technology in sound, lighting and scenery
- performance spaces of varying sizes. The Parade Studio, Parade Playhouse, Parade Space and Atrium are also utilised for productions
- the state-of-the-art Reg Grundy Studio is used for film and television recording
- the Rodney Seaborn Library, specialising in the performing arts
- computer-aided design (CAD) and multimedia studios
- rehearsal rooms, teaching spaces and music practice rooms
- and workshops for the manufacture of scenery, properties and costumes.
What student services does NIDA offer?
Because of NIDA’s close relationship with UNSW, in addition to the NIDA library, NIDA students have access to the UNSW Library, The Learning Centre, health services and the UNSW Fitness and Aquatic Centre, all located close to NIDA.
NIDA students have access to student counselling services provided through UNSW.
Indigenous students can also use the services of the Nura Gili Indigenous Programs Centre at UNSW.
Does NIDA offer credit transfer for study undertaken elsewhere?
Yes, NIDA grants credit for formal study undertaken in recognised higher institutions in Australia, including universities, colleges, TAFE and other post-secondary education institutions and for study at recognised overseas institutions, where the applicant has met the learning outcomes, attained the knowledge and/or developed the skills relevant to a specific subject. An application for credit must be submitted and approved prior to commencement of the course. For further information see NIDA’s credit transfer policy.
NIDA Student policies FAQs
Can I defer my studies at NIDA?
Due to the highly competitive nature of NIDA’s admissions process, you must enrol for the year for which you have been offered a place. You cannot defer acceptance of a place. If you want to enrol in a subsequent year, you will need to apply again the following year and go through the interview process again. There is no guarantee that you will be offered a place next time.
Application for leave of absence by continuing students must be made in writing with reasons to the Head of Course for consideration and recommendation to the Director/CEO. Approval for leave of absence can only be granted by the Director/CEO and only under exceptional circumstances.
Can students be suspended from NIDA?
In addition to cancellation of enrolment for non-payment of tuition fees, a student’s enrolment at NIDA can be suspended or cancelled on the grounds of misconduct.
See NIDA student policies for more information.
What are the tuition fees for accredited courses?
Financial assistance FAQs
Are there scholarships available for studying at NIDA?
NIDA does not offer other scholarships that cover the cost of tuition fees.
NIDA students, who are Australian citizens, are able to access FEE-HELP loans for assistance with their tuition fees. For more information on FEE-HELP loans see www.studyassist.gov.au or the ‘Fees’ tab on individual course pages.
Is financial assistance available for Master of Fine Arts students?
The Master of Fine Arts courses are not approved courses for students to receive Austudy, Youth Allowance (student) and Pensioner Education Supplement through Centrelink. Master of Fine Arts students enrolled in a full-time course are eligible to apply for a NIDA bursary.
NIDA offers full-time students the opportunity to apply for financial assistance (bursaries) at the beginning of each year to assist with living costs. The bursaries are made available through the generosity of donors to NIDA and from bequests. Bursaries are paid on a fortnightly basis during the NIDA year, with the value of individual bursaries in 2015 ranging from $1,600 annually to $4,000 annually, depending on need and the year and course of study. Bursaries are only available to students currently enrolled at NIDA in full-time courses.
NZ and international students FAQs
Is there a limit on the number of international students accepted each year?
NIDA welcomes applications from international students. While there is no quota for international students, there are limited numbers of students in each course.
What are the English language requirements for international students?
Students must be proficient in written and spoken English, with international applicants required to have an English language proficiency equivalent to an overall band score of IELTS 8.0 for Acting, Directing and Writing for Performance, or IELTS 7.0 for other higher education courses. Information on IELTS and testing centres in your country is available at www.ielts.org.
International applicants who are short-listed for the Acting course after the recall audition must provide evidence of their English language capability by the end of the first week in December in order to be considered in the final selection process. International applications for other courses should bring evidence of their English language capability to their interview.
Where can I find more information about international students at NIDA?
2016 Cultural Leadership student testimonals
Hear what our current students have said about the Cultural Leadership course.
Yasmin Masri (Canberra)
Design artist, producer
‘The MFA Cultural Leadership at NIDA has allowed me to connect to an incredible network of peers and mentors working across the arts in Australia. The intensive nature of this course – enabling the participation of a national cohort – also allows for the flexibility essential for continuing to pursue career opportunities whilst studying.’
Katherine Quigley (Brisbane)
Artistic Director and CEO, Backbone Youth Arts (producer / manager)
‘I started the year wondering what this course was really going to be like, if I was ready for study again and if it was really going to be harmonious with my schedule. Being involved in this course has had an immediate impact on my confidence and capacity to understand the bigger picture, more than I had anticipated. The quality of lecturers and access to industry insights and knowledge is fantastic. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to improve their understanding of "what they do" and increase their proficiency in "how and why they do it."’
Tiek Kim Pok (Sydney)
Theatre-maker and performance artist; part of the Performance 4a team that works on Asian/Australian collaborations
‘The course has brought together those who agree with the statement "that culture must reclaim as a driver of social change" and who want to be in the front seat. So far I have been encouraged to unpack a couple of key objectives held dear to my core as an artist - synthesis and significance. I also relish the fact that for two and half years, I am in the company of innovative thinkers and passionate advocates who will help me enact a paradigm shift sorely needed in my work and practice. As a course, it promotes both cultural AND collective leadership and feels designed to evolve in real-time in response to all that is going on in the sector.’
Mathew Millay (Sydney)
Executive Officer at Australia Council for the Arts
‘The Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership) course at NIDA has come a pivotal point in my career. This course, the lecturers and most importantly my peer group have already played an invaluable role in shaping how I see myself making a positive impact in the arts and cultural sector and beyond.’
Jo Thomas (Brisbane)
Creative Director, Metro Arts
‘I very much wanted an opportunity to look at the bigger questions in our world and how arts and culture could contribute to creative solutions, and discuss these ideas and strategies with colleagues. The MFA has delivered this to me. The debate and research has been enlightening and exciting and inspiring. And I've made some wonderful new friends too.’