Oxford Cultural Leaders programme for 2023 - Applications now open

Oxford Cultural Leaders

Applications are now open for Oxford Cultural Leaders 2023, the acclaimed cultural leadership programme which has developed an international reputation as a vital training ground for senior leaders in the arts and cultural sector worldwide. For the first time since the pandemic, Oxford Cultural Leaders (OCL) will offer both a residential and online programme for 2023.  

Designed and delivered by Oxford University’s Gardens, Libraries & Museums in partnership with the Saïd Business School, Oxford Cultural Leaders is a unique international programme for leaders in the cultural sectors, working at senior management level, who want to redefine their identity as leaders and reimagine their institutional vision at a time of increasing challenge for the sector.

With the sector facing particularly complex challenges such as constraints on funding across the arts and the ‘cost-of-living crisis’, there is a growing need for leaders to take risks and steer their teams successfully through change. The programme encourages leaders to take a holistic view of their organisation and the broader context in which it operates to identify opportunities which will make the most difference. Equipping participants with these skills supports them in creating a resilient and sustainable culture that benefits the entire organisation amidst change.

The programme − now in its ninth year − brings together expertise from the cultural and business sectors, including its international alumni network, to encourage participants to explore how cultural organisations can embrace transformational change through entrepreneurial ways of thinking and behaving.

This year the programme will be offering two options for greater flexibility:

  • A new online programme to run 12 – 16 June 2023. This tailored and highly interactive programme is delivered via Zoom, thus offering the flexibility of live online delivery.  Participants come from around the world and benefit from the expertise of Oxford University faculty and access to key figures from across the cultural sector in a range of workshops and talks. 1:1 leadership coaching is included as part of the personalised programme experience.
    Applications are now open.
    Deadline for applications: Monday 27 March 2023
  • A residential programme to run 24 – 29 September 2023. The programme is based in Oxford University where participants will stay within a historic College and experience workshops and talks within Oxford’s landmark buildings and museums. They will benefit from the expertise of Oxford University faculty and access to key figures across the cultural sector and will enjoy excellent networking opportunities and events during the week with peers from around the world.
    Applications open Tuesday 2 May 2023.
    Deadline for Applications: Monday 26 June 2023

Over 150 leaders across the cultural sector have now graduated from the programme and form a dynamic international alumni network who continue to share best practice, support one another’s continued leadership, and develop innovative and transformative partnerships and programmes. Past participants have come from the British Library, Arts Council England, English National Ballet, Historic England, National Museums Scotland, National Trust, Sadler’s Wells, Science Museum Group, V&A and the Tate in the UK as well as from international organisations including Deutsches Museum, Jamaican Military Museum, Parks Canada, Te Papa Tongarewa, and the embassies of Denmark and Estonia . 

The OCL programme welcomes applications from managers not only in the museum and galleries sector but across the cultural sector: in theatre and the performing arts, visual arts, music, film, libraries, cultural and natural heritage including tourism, and the creative industries. 

Faculty for 2023 includes: Pegram Harrison, Michael Smets, Nelisha Wickremasinghe (Saïd Business School), Anna Sanders, Paul Smith, Laura Van Broekhoven, Xa Sturgis (Oxford University Gardens, Libraries & Museums), Zak Mensah (Birmingham Museums Trust), Adrienne Hart (Neon Dance), and Samenua Sesher (Museum of Colour).

Applications for the online programme are now open with a deadline of Monday 27 March 2023. Applications for the residential programme open in May with a deadline of Monday 26 June 2023.

To find out more, including detailed curriculum, and to apply, visit www.glam.ox.ac.uk/oxford-cultural-leaders

Quotes from attendees

‘My OCL experience was intense, disruptive, challenging, encouraging and inspirational. Every session interrogated my values and ideologies as a cultural leader. It not only bolstered my resilience; it renewed my sense of optimism and purpose.’

Lauretta Morton OAM, Director, Newcastle Art Gallery, Australia

'It was a creative and professional opportunity to encourage empathy, courage and pursue a path of unfamiliarity as a leader, without fear of doubt and embedded confidence in leadership. Highly recommended and remarkable, OCL shines above.'

Dr Sian L Tiley-Nel, Head of UP Museums, Office of the Registrar, University of Pretoria Museums, South Africa


‘Oxford Cultural Leaders is the only place in the world where business practices, cultural values and academic insights truly meet.’

Martijn Laar, B2C Director, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision

‘It gave me the space to step back and changed some behaviours that were not helpful to me. It’s not just about listening to inspirational speakers, reading interesting academic articles and practising theory, it’s so much more! The whole process changes you for the better.’ 

Victoria Robinson, Chief Executive Officer, The Met, UK

‘For anyone considering taking a big step in a new direction, needing expert encouragement and a life-long network, then this is definitely the course for you.’

Sally Shaw OBE, Director, Firstsite, UK