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News & Press: ISPA Insider

Game-Changing Program for Global Arts Professionals - ISPA’s Fellowship Program

Thursday, October 15, 2015   (0 Comments)

Fellowship Season at ISPA

In this second issue, we are featuring an in-depth look at ISPA’s ever-growing Fellowship Programs

ISPA Fellowship Programs were created to provide emerging and mid-career performing arts professionals with the opportunity to expand their international networks and develop professionally by joining the membership and attending an ISPA Congress. Each year a group of 20 – 40 leaders are selected to participate. The program participants now make up over 10% of the membership.  
To give you more insight into ISPA’s Fellowship Programs, Regional Funding Partner Kelly Langgard, from the Canada Council for the Arts talks about why committing resources to this program is important to the Canadian arts community and the role that the Canadian Fellows play; ISPA Board member Michelle Witt discusses the challenge of selecting only 13 deserving arts administrators from a pool of 163 applications; and, current ISPA Fellow Butshilo Nleya will share his own experience as a program participant. 

Many thanks to our Regional Funding Partners, Patrons and Challenge donors!

Best wishes,
The ISPA Team

ISPA Fellowship Programs

From Inception to the Present

ISPA’s Fellowship Program was first conceived as an opportunity to introduce emerging arts leaders to the ISPA network and help them develop their career through an expanded professional network and learning opportunity. It was also seen as a way to introduce greater diversity into the ISPA network (age, region, discipline, etc.) – really a win-win program. As originally conceived, the priority was on professionals from developing economies but applications were accepted from all regions. Successful applicants received a registration to an ISPA Congress, travel subsidy, and membership for one year. In 2007 we welcomed our first three Fellows into the Global Fellowship Program and since then have welcomed 99 Fellows from 43 countries around the world. Through the Global Fellowship Program, we have invested almost $250,000 in this next generation of arts leaders!

The Legacy Program was introduced as a complimentary program at the 2011 Congress in Toronto. Funded by the Canada Council, this new program supported arts leaders specifically from that region (Canada). This program differs from the Global Fellowship in that the investment is over a 3 year period giving the participants an extended engagement with ISPA through membership and Congress attendance. Over the past five years, the program has expanded to nine regions around the world in partnership with local funders from Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, Latin America, Middle East/Northern Africa, Netherlands, Scotland and Sweden and was recently renamed the Regional Fellowship Program.  

In 2016 we anticipate a total of 42 Fellows; 29 Regional Fellows and 13 Global Fellows for a total investment of almost $200,000! Participants will receive a complimentary registration to attend the 97th ISPA Congress, Performance! from January 12-14, 2016, a travel subsidy, participation in a one day learning initiative, a 2016 ISPA membership, and mentorship from an established ISPA member. 

Funder's Voice

Kelly Langgard, Coordinator, Audience and Market Development
Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts is one of ISPA’s Regional Funding Partners.

"When the ISPA Congress took place in Toronto in 2011, The Canada Council for the Arts supported a group of promising young arts leaders from across our country so that they would have the chance to participate. Their experience showed us the incredible power of ISPA to open doors to the world for those ready to engage. The Legacy Program (now Regional Fellowship Program) was formalized soon after and we were joined by colleagues from other regions around the world. They also saw the unique value of ISPA’s global network, and send their best mid-career leaders to join with mentors and colleagues from around the world."

"I am grateful to David Baile and the Board of ISPA for their vision and collaboration in establishing this game-changing program. Over the past few years, it has been absolutely thrilling to see the next generation of international arts leaders – talented, diverse, collaborative – gathering as ISPA’s Global and Regional Fellows.

Our last group of Canadian Fellows built solid relationships in the ISPA family, shared and collaborated in dynamic ways and proved that they have what it takes to lead on the international level.The Canada Council is proud and privileged to be in this partnership with ISPA and our Regional Funding colleagues. With programs like this, the future looks very bright!"

Reviewer's Perspective

Michelle Witt, Executive Director, Meany Hall for the Performing Arts & Artistic Director, UW World Series
Michelle Witt sits on the ISPA Board of Directors and serves on the committee that reviews and makes recommendations for ISPA’s Global Fellowship Program.

"My first ISPA Congress was in Vancouver in 1998 during my very first year as a performing arts presenter. I was lucky to have found ISPA so early on, as it opened my eyes to a profoundly exciting new world of people, ideas, and possibilities and I am honored to be involved in selecting our ISPA Fellows.

After basic minimum requirements were met, the committee looked for individuals who have a clear vision for their career path and life objectives in relation to furthering the performing arts field. We looked at why candidates wish to participate in ISPA, how this opportunity would benefit them, and how they intended to share knowledge gained with their communities. We strove for diversity in our Fellows, as those coming from underrepresented countries often have the most unique perspective. We also knew that many candidates from resource-challenged areas would not be able to attend ISPA without this critical support. It is challenging to maintain an unbiased approach to applications that are demonstrative of cultural differences, and this challenge sparked lively and thoughtful discussion amongst the committee members."


"Given all of these many considerations, and many hours of review and discussion, I am certain that we have chosen a highly qualified group of Fellows who will not only gain from their participation in ISPA, but will deeply enrich the entire organization. We only wish that we could serve more Fellows, as the lasting impact of this high-level international professional development and networking opportunity is clear, and has ripple effects across communities and around the world."

In a Fellow's Own Words

Butshilo Nleya, 2014 & 2015 Global Fellow
Born to Life Cultural Trust, Zimbabwe

"In just two years, Butshilo has become an active member of the ISPA community. Most ISPA members will recall him addressing delegates at the New York 2015 Congress with a Regional Update about his country of Zimbabwe.

Friends can never be bought and as a Zimbabwean saying goes, you cannot wash off family like dirt on your hands. Such are the feelings I have developed for the Global Fellowship Program and ISPA as a whole. Through continued support from the different benefactors, the program reached out to me and I have been able to add considerable and sometimes intangible value and appreciation of my talents, skills, community and the responsibilities I have towards my people. Supporting this program earns one this long winded title I have coined: custodian of global arts practice, development, cultural preservation and activism towards a much more tolerant and caring world."

See all our current Fellowship Participants


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