• Cultural Leadership Cohort with tutor during an intensive in 2017
  • Cultural Leadership student Jo Thomas in a community group
  • Cultural leadership course discussion panel
  • Visiting guests with Cheryl Stock from MFA (Cultural Leadership)

MFA (Cultural Leadership)

CRICOS CODE 086128F (full-time mode)

NIDA’s MFA (Cultural Leadership) is unique in several ways. Designed specifically for mid-career producers, directors and managers working full-time in the cultural sectors, the course is taught by senior cultural leaders working at a high level in the arts industry. Their knowledge and expertise is current and future-focused and they are supported by senior full-time NIDA staff who integrate contemporary academic training with ongoing creative and professional practice.

The program operates part-time over two and a half years through supported online modules and four five-day campus intensives each year in state-of-the-art facilities at NIDA’s Sydney campus. The course content is tailored to the work aspirations, interests and requirements of each cohort and fosters a dynamic community of practice through peer-to-peer learning and mutual support. As the inaugural cohort has demonstrated, this approach is highly successful and has already created a self-sustaining ongoing learning environment ideal for busy people juggling work and study commitments.

Applications for 2019 courses are now closed. There are a limited amount of auditions/interview places left in some locations. For late application requests, please contact the Learning and Teaching Team at applications@nida.edu.au as soon as possible.

Express your interest

Contact NIDA

About the course

While encouraging deep critical reflection and interrogation with targeted and relevant course content, the program challenges the cohort to question and debate the breadth of issues that we all face in our quest to create a sustainable and diverse future in which culture plays a transformative role. It also encourages imaginative play in developing interdisciplinary future scenarios.

The individualised international placements with key cultural leaders are the culminating highlight of the program.

Want to know more about this course? Robyn Archer, Chair of MFA (Cultural Leadership) explains

Course structure

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.

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.

Course dates

Course Dates

First Year Students

6-9 February, inclusive
Contextualising Practice and Leadership and Governance

2-6 May, inclusive
Leadership and Governance, Cultural Transformation and Sustainability and Contextualising Practice

1-5 August, inclusive
Cultural Transformation and Sustainability

24 - 27 October, inclusive
Cultural Transformation and Sustainability

Second Year Students

1-5 March, inclusive
Cultural Policy and Practice and Generating Research Through Practice

2-6 May, inclusive
Generating Research Through Practice and Cultural Policy and Practice

1-5 August, inclusive
Generating Research Through Practice and Communication and Advocacy

24 October - 27 October, inclusive
Communication and Advocacy

Course overview

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. It explores a values based approach and examines the role of entrepreneurship and private and public funding within cultural practice in order to effect change and encourage cultural transformation. This subject assesses the interplay of traditional arts practice with new forms and the opportunities for innovation presented by digitisation and convergence. Cultural Transformation and Sustainability critically explores and reflects on the value and contribution of culture from the perspective of the the arts manager, programmer or curator, the professional practitioner, the community participant and the audience member.

This subject also introduces principles and theories of social, economic and environmental sustainability as they apply to the arts and culture. Students examine multiple approaches for the engagement of diverse audiences and participants, probing the challenges and opportunities of culture as an instrument for social inclusion. The particularities and issues of diversity are explored, including ethnicity and gender of arts leaders and arts practitioners, participants and audiences from these key groups. A review of arts and culture in the context of tourism and 'place-making' encourages the student to acknowledge a wider view of culture and appreciate its impact beyond the the arts and cultural sector.

The subject finally requires the student to develop and demonstrate a nuanced argument detailing his or her own professional view regarding an issue of contemporary relevance, leading to a proposal for a transformational and sustainable outcome. 

Leadership and Governance (15 credit points)

Leadership and Governance examines models of governance within the context of the cultural sector and how Board and executive leadership intersects with sound governance to realise organisational and creative goals. It provides a comprehensive examination of the legal, organisational and operational frameworks of cultural institutions, which will be investigated through perspectives of power, values and ethics.

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.

Admission criteria

Essential requirements for admission

Admission criteria

Applicants must have:

  • All applicants applying for a graduate course at NIDA must have completed an undergraduate degree (in any area), or
  • At least five years’ documented professional experience in the arts, cultural, creative or other relevant sector/s, including evidence of sector leadership experience.
  • 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/

Applicants who do not have an undergraduate degree may be considered on the basis of evidence of extensive relevant professional experience.

NB: The Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership) is only available to study part time.

The scheduling and delivery of this course each year is subject to minimum enrolment numbers.

Essential requirements

Cultural Leadership - Selection of students

We select applicants who demonstrate commitment, capacity and willingness to advance their practice by:

  1. Working creatively
  2. Collaborating as part of a creative team
  3. Demonstrating a range of relevant skills and technical abilities
  4. Providing evidence of intellectual enquiry and reflection within their work
  5. 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.

International students

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 2018.

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.

For more information on applying as an international student, see international students.


Tuition fees

Domestic and international students are required to pay tuition fees by the due date each semester.

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.

Domestic Students

Domestic students are Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and New Zealand citizens.

Download the NIDA Domestic Graduate Student Fees Schedule 2018 (PDF 597KB).

Download the NIDA Domestic Graduate Student Fees Schedule 2019 (PDF 1115KB).

International Students

Fees and financial assistance vary for international students see International Students for full details.

Tuition fees overview

DegreeCourse duration2018 Annual tuition fee $AUD*Estimated total course tuition fee*
Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership) 30 months $15,422.40 $30,844.80

Tuition fee details

Year 1, 2018
Subject codeSubjectCredit pointsEFTSL**Tuition fee*
CUL9101 Cultural Transformation and Sustainability 60 0.416 $10,281.60
CUL9104 Leadership and Governance 15 0.104 $2,570.40
COM9101 Contextualising Practice 15 0.104 $2,570.40
Total for Year 1 90 0.624 $15,422.40
Year 2, 2019
Subject codeSubject Credit pointsEFTSL**Tuition fee*
CUL9105 Communication and Advocacy 15 0.104 $2,570.40
CUL9103 Cultural Policy and Practice 15 0.104 $2,570.40
CUL9102 International Placement 30 0.208 $5,140.80
COM9102 Generating Research Through Practice 30 0.208 $5,140.80
Total for Year 2 90 0.624 $15,422.40

*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.

Administration fees

Administration and Other Fees 2019

These fees are payable at the time the service is provided or item purchased.

Item/ServiceDetail2019 Cost
Binding supplies1 comb,1 cover, 1 back$2
GraduationAcademic Dress Hire: gown, hood and cap$35
Additional tickets for guests (2 guests no charge)$20 per head
Student ID Card replacementReplacement of a lost student card$25
PhotocopyingB/W – single sided$0.05
B/W – double sided$0.10
Colour – single sided$0.10
Colour – double sided$0.20
Locker keyDeposit$25
Replacement of lost locker key$25
Testamur replacement1 testamur – domestic postage$80
1 testamur – standard international postage$90
Transcript replacement1 transcript – domestic postage$20
1 transcript – standard international postage$30

Additional costs

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 Component

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.

Internet Speed

Use a broadband connection (256 Kbit/sec or faster—this will ensure that you can view videos and online presentations) through USB wireless modem, ADSL, T1/T2, fibre optic or cable.

Internet Browsers

Compatible browsers include:

  • Google Chrome 32 bit version 38 or later (recommended for optimal compatibility, this has been thoroughly tested on Windows)
  • Safari 8 or later (recommended for optimal compatibility, this has been thoroughly tested on Mac)
  • Mozilla Firefox 35.0 or later

Note that add-ons and toolbars can affect any browser's performance. MS Internet Explorer is not recommended.

Collaborative Online Platforms

Please note that student may need to utilise enterprise collaborative tools from within the Google+ suite. Students will be issued user accounts for use in these instances.


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.


NIDA is pleased that through the generosity of the Luminis Foundation, we will now be able to offer the Luminis Foundation Indigenous Fellowship in Cultural Leadership for the 2018 intake. This Fellowship will support the successful applicant by funding 50% of their MFA course fee.


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. In 2018 the FEE-HELP lifetime limit is $102,392.

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.

Application FAQs

How do I apply for a full-time course at NIDA?

The first step is to fill in an application form, available online from July 2018. 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 July 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 applications@nida.edu.au 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: applications@nida.edu.au

Interview FAQs

What do I need to prepare for my interview?

All the details for interview requirements can be found on the individual course pages under the ‘Interviews and how to apply’ tab.

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. 

Fees FAQs

What are the tuition fees for accredited courses?

Full information about tuition fees and FEE-HELP is available under the ‘Fees’ tab on individual course pages. 

Financial assistance FAQs

Are there scholarships available for studying at NIDA?

NIDA is pleased that through the generosity of the Luminis Foundation, we will now be able to offer the Luminis Foundation Indigenous Fellowship in Cultural Leadership for the 2018 intake. This Fellowship will support the successful applicant by funding 50% of their Master of Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership only) course fee.

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?

More information about studying as an international student at NIDA can be found at International students

How to apply

Applications for 2019 courses are now closed. There are a limited amount of auditions/interview places left in some locations. For late application requests, please contact the Learning and Teaching Team at applications@nida.edu.au as soon as possible.

Express your interest

Application Process

Application to NIDA is by direct entry. Applicants apply online via the NIDA website.

Entry to the MFA (Cultural Leadership) is by interview. See below for details on how to prepare or download the MFA Application Guide for 2019

How to apply

There are six steps to successfully applying for a NIDA course:


Create your application account (link to be provided from 2 July).

You will then be sent an automatic email with your log in details to continue your application.


Log in, select the green ‘New Application’ button and complete the online form.


Upload the following documentation to the online form:

  • Evidence of your most recent qualification (e.g. school report, Higher School Certificate, university transcript or testamur).
  • Proof of identification (e.g. passport, driver’s licence, birth certificate; ID must show your date of birth).
  • A passport style photograph (less than six months old, in colour, well lit, plain background).
  • Academic IELTS or equivalent (international applicants only)
  • Any course related documents/portfolios.


Make payment of the AUD$75 administration fee by credit/debit card.


Book your audition or interview date in your nearest capital city.


Attend your audition or interview, having prepared the relevant material for your course.

Interview dates

Round One - Melbourne

  • Thursday, 8 November 2018
  • Friday, 9 November 2018

Round One - Sydney/Video

  • w/c 5 November 2018
  • w/c 12 November 2018

Round Two - Sydney/Video

  • w/c 19 November 2018

Your Interview

What to prepare


The following should be uploaded with your application:


  • You should upload a detailed CV highlighting your education and training, professional work and other relevant information.


  • You will need to provide proof of your university degree/s or five years of professional experience in a relevant area. This can be a scan/photograph of your transcript or testamur from the awarding institution; if you are offered a place in the course you will be required to provide a certified copy.


  • You upload a personal statement of no more than 600 words outlining your interest in the course, new knowledge you hope to acquire, and how you see the course intersecting with your current work/projects.

What to expect on the day


  • Interviews are conducted by at least two NIDA staff members in person, or by video. All applicants will be interviewed to assess their capacity for leadership. Interviews will run 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. There will also be an opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the course, or about NIDA.
  • If you are shortlisted you will be invited for a second 30 minute interview with NIDA staff, on a separate date.

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.

Advanced standing

The collaborative nature of NIDA's conservatoire training means that NIDA does not encourage advanced standing/academic credit/recognition of prior learning, particularly for discipline based subjects. However a student can apply for academic credit or recognition of prior learning at the time of enrolment. Details are available on the student policies page.

See definitions for common terminology (PDF, 33KB).


Cultural Leadership Testimonials

Hear what our current students and recent graduates have said about the Cultural Leadership course.

‘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.’
- Yasmin Masri
Curator (Place and Programs) for the creative production house Molonglo Group, Sydney
Recipient of Lynne Williams Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Leadership

‘It is an absolute privilege to undertake a course that provides learning experiences that add to and enhance my years in the cultural sector. What is extraordinary about NIDA's Cultural Leadership's course material is that it can be adapted to your field, making everything you learn relevant. The information exchanged by peers from all over Australia in a variety of practices, is just the cherry on top.’
- Mel George
Manager, Ernabella Arts, Central Australia
Recipient of Luminis Foundation, Indigenous Cultural Leadership Fellowship

‘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 teaching staff are well networked, insightful and of the highest calibre. The debate and research have been enlightening and exciting and inspiring.  And I've made some wonderful new friends too.’
- Jo Thomas
Creative Director, Metro Arts, Brisbane

‘NIDA Graduate school staff has taken great care to design a course which not only engenders many practical 'real world' leadership skills, but also content that enriches the person.’
- Viviana Sacchero
Audience Engagement Manager, The Australian Ballet, Melbourne

Nowhere else have I been given an opportunity to speak with honesty, rigour, and passion about my experiences in working in the realm of arts and culture. Sharing thoughts, fears and speculations with others has stretched and expanded my vision in ways impossible to imagine previously.’
- Olivia Allen
Community Arts Officer at Yarra City Council, Melbourne

‘The course has empowered me to think broadly about leadership in an arts context and discover where I fit into the conversation. This is a rich and vital course for those who wish to take their practice to the next level.’
- Samuel Moynihan
Theatre in Education Performer, Canberra

‘Thanks to the NIDA Cultural Leadership MFA course I have met incredibly supportive and pro-active artists and production professionals who are generous and supportive to the needs and dreams of like-minded individuals. The pro-active assistance that individuals in the course offer fellow students, both knowledge-based and in professional capacities, is inspirational and significant. The quality of the course work and lecturers is very high; with the course work designed to comprehensively suit all arts professionals who work in diverse arenas, from the avant-garde to popular.’
- Ben Greaves
Collusion Music and Dance Ensemble, Brisbane

‘The Masters in Cultural Leadership is everything and more I imagined and will have a profound impact on my personal and professional life. From the immensely talented cohorts to the teachers who blow me away with their knowledge, experience and passion; all ensuring I am in excellent company as I advance my learnings and my career.’
- Helen Healy,
Cultural Engagement Consultant, Mildura


This course will support the leadership aspirations of practitioners, arts and cultural managers, policy makers and cultural facilitators from across the international and Australian performing arts and creative industries.

See NIDA's list of Alumni.

Further Info

For more info, check the course guide (PDF, 2.5MB)

If you have any further questions about the application process, please contact:

Email: applications@nida.edu.au

Phone: +61 (02) 9697 7614
+61 (02) 9697 7611
+61 (02) 9697 7654


215 Anzac Parade
Kensington NSW 2033

Further information:

NIDA Undergraduate and Graduate policies and procedures
Commonwealth Register
National Register of Higher Education Providers

Read more about NIDA's Chair of MFA (Cultural Leadership) Robyn Archer AO

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