Seminar with Professor Ruth Rentschler

A longitudinal study of the board of an art council

Friday, March 23, 2018 - 14:00 to 15:00


Ruth Rentschler


Title: A longitudinal study of the board of an art council: Evidence of reform and renewal over 45 years

Presenter: Ruth Rentschler OAM, MAICD, Professor in Arts and Cultural Leadership & Head of School of Management.
Are you wondering how peak arts bodies funded by government make decisions over time? How do board members present themselves as legitimate over time? How do they manage tensions demanded by both excellence and equity over time?

Using a unique data provided from the arts council, the Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian government's arts funding and advisory body, you will hear about the struggles and strategies a peak body uses to obtain legitimacy in a changing world over 45 years since its inception in 1972. This presentation presents content analysed in a longitudinal study of annual reports, comparing Aboriginal content to non-Aboriginal content (text, images and funding allocations) in annual reports. Findings reveal tensions between policy statements evident in annual reports (i.e., Chair's reports and images used) about the centrality of Aboriginal arts to national cultural policy versus Aboriginal funding, tensions in which are played out through board messages to stakeholders and money provided for Aboriginal arts projects. Sometimes Aboriginal peoples benefit from decisions made by the board, by creative jobs being created and markets developed, but at other times they are disadvantaged by them, due to flat-lining in funding over time. Importantly, it is argued that the results provide accounts of appropriation of Aboriginal visual and textual content without appropriate funding allocations, suggesting that board members decisions are sometimes not in the best interest of the wider society, thus favouring excellence over equity.

Join us in this key note address with Ruth Rentschler OAM MAICD, where she is professor of arts and cultural leadership and head, School of Management in the Business School, University of South Australia.

Questions you may be asking yourself that this presentation will answer include:


  • How can leadership be shared between the Chair and the CEO as an implementer of strategy?
  • How can boards achieve legitimate governance practices, satisfying their excellence and equity mantras?
  • What is the role of the chair in such a setting and over time?
  • Can a board be strategic and engage in activism (i.e., through support for the development of the Aboriginal arts industry) at the same time?

Disclaimer: The presenter respects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and culture. Readers should be aware that this paper may contain references and images to members of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait community who have passed away and returned to their spirit dreaming. The authors will also like to acknowledge the Country where the research took place. We acknowledge the ancestral lands and traditional owners of the Wurundjeri, Wathuarung and Kaurna peoples. We pay respect to the elders of these communities both past, present and future for the privilege to produce this research and paper of their Country.

Date: 23 March 2018

Time: 14:00-15:00

Location: CBS, Kilen, KS48



The page was last edited by: Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy // 03/19/2018