Young Professionals on Arts Boards Programme 2018 - Open for Applications

27 Apr 2018

Young Professionals on Arts Boards Programme 2018 - Open for Applications

Being a non-executive charity director in Northern Ireland's rich cultural sector makes future leaders explore their individuality, find social meaning and relevance, and develop key soft skills that add value back in the workplace.

Now in its 11th year, the Arts & Business NI Young Professionals Programme gets rising private sector talent involved at the sharp end of the arts by placing them on the board of a charitable arts organisation, where they contribute their business skills, energy and expertise – and get a lot in return.  A core service within A&B NI’s suite of Governance Programmes, this initiative provides training and support to ensure young professionals in the early stages of their careers (aged 21-35 years) fast-track their capabilities through this practical, hands-on strategic leadership experience. 

Applications for this year’s Young Professionals on Arts Boards Programme launched at an event hosted in the eye-catching new Ulster University Belfast Campus Art Shop ‘UNIque’. Previous participant Charlotte Jess, Website Manager at Queen's University Belfast shared how her placement with the Crescent Arts Centre in 2013 expanded her career ambitions, making her fiercely proud of the value NI’s cultural sector contributes to society. The depth of Charlotte’s commitment has resulted in her recently becoming Chair of The Crescent Arts Centre; responsible for a turnover of more than £750,000 and employing 20+ staff.  

Tony Kennedy, Chair of The John Hewitt Society revealed how having Ryan Cornett, Cunningham Coates Stockbrokers, join their Board via a Young Professional placement in 2014, helped them transition into a period of managed growth. Ryan credited his governance experience with developing soft skills he can usefully employ in his own workplace.  

Top legal firm Carson McDowell has placed 15 employees on the programme to date, and Managing Partner Michael Johnston conveyed a powerful message about engaging employees meaningfully, particularly important with Millennials, and how socially involved employees are ultimately good for business. It was also important for the many legal attendees to hear Michael expand on how the Young Professionals programme allows participants to actually experience corporate governance instead of just reading about it, saying “This programme is a practical way to develop young talent and to give back to the community, and we commend the participants for volunteering their time and skills to support our local arts sector. Carson McDowell believes that the arts matter.”

The final speaker of the day was Anne Orr from Greenlight Consulting, who was placed on the Board of Dumbworld via A&B NI’s Board Bank Programme, a board matching programme for middle to senior level business managers. Anne described the wide range of valuable professional skills which she developed by participating in Board Bank: network building, developing experiences, immediate decision making, speeding up leadership capabilities, exposure to creative process and most importantly - having fun!

Tania Carlisle, Development Manager at Arts & Business NI “Developing a workforce for the future demands focus on the human, and cultural engagement is becoming a business imperative. Arts charities operate as non-profit distributing businesses. We see time and time again how encouraging and empowering younger talent to step up and get involved as a non-executive Company Director in the Arts strengthens our cultural sector, contributes to brand NI, and accelerates the individual’s knowledge and competencies.”

Speakers L-R: Charlotte Jess, Queen's University Belfast & Chair of Crescent Arts Centre; Anne Orr, Greenlight Consulting & Board Member of Dumbworld; Tony Kennedy, Chair of The John Hewitt Society; Tania Carlisle, Arts & Business NI; Ryan Cornett Cunningham Coates Stockbrokers & Board Member of The John Hewitt Society; Michael Johnston, Carson McDowell.

Deadline for applications to the A&B NI Young Professionals on Arts Boards Programme 2018 is Monday 25 June 2018

To find out more please email Tania Carlisle at

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Arts & Business is generously supported by The Arts Council of Northern Ireland.