EVOLVING CHAIR: Cultural Infusion Promoting Social Cohesion
18 December 2014 at 10:54 am
The integration of diverse skills and functions to bring about community diversity has been one of the big challenges facing Dr Colin Benjamin the Chair of arts Not for Profit Cultural Infusion. He discusses the issues in this latest Evolving Chair series.
Dr Colin Benjamin has had a long and varied career in the public sector and appointments in the Not for Profit community sector, including Director of the Victorian Council of Social Service.
He has been involved with the ‘Life. Be in it.’ campaign since its inception in 1975 and been the Director General of Life. Be in it.International since 1993 and is a Past President and Life Member of the Australian Association of Social Workers.
Dr Benjamin is currently the chair of arts Not for Profit, Cultural Infusion.
What is your organisation and what is the board structure?
Cultural Infusion (http://culturalinfusion.org.au/) uses the arts and a range of sustainable engagement programs as a driver to build cultural harmony and wellbeing through contributing to a society that values intercultural understanding, utilises its cultural richness to benefit society as a whole, and uses cultural and artistic expression as a means of promoting social cohesion. The board comprises five Directors and two Service Patrons (http://culturalinfusion.org.au/about-us/board/).
Cultural Infusion’s status as a global community enterprise is reflected in its vision of “a world that is culturally and socially cohesive that values the richness of our collective cultural heritage”.
What is the biggest challenge your board has had to overcome? And how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge Cultural Infusion’s board has had to overcome has been the integration of diverse skills and functions to bring about community diversity.
Cultural Infusion is based on a simple premise: that artists and the creative process have the power to change society for the better. Both the board and management share the belief that intercultural understanding is the most urgent challenge facing Australian and global society and that arts and cultural programs are central to meeting that challenge.
What is your board’s ultimate goal?
Cultural Infusion’s board has the ultimate goal of creating an open, tolerant society, which is being brought about under the creative and strategic direction of Cultural Infusion CEO Peter Mousaferiadis.
Practices that will help Cultural Infusion achieve this goal include forging alliances with key strategic partners including the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations, United Religions Initiative, the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and Mayibuye, among other organisations.
Cultural Infusion’s board will help management strengthen relationships of the Cultural Infusion brand overseas through internationalising its “Discovering Diversity” program (http://culturalinfusion.org.au/education/diversity-programs/) which includes Joko’s World, an exciting new cross-platform learning environment that’s bringing the cultures of the world together through music, and the establishment of touring programs in the Asia Pacific region.
Cultural Infusion’s board will work with management in order to continue to develop and deliver intercultural arts products, including new works, by drawing upon Australia’s rich cultural diversity, and to secure major partnerships in Australia and overseas that supports the development of these diverse works.
A key priority of the board is a clarification of Cultural Infusion’s structures as we move into an era of international recognition. During this time, the board expects to develop Cultural Infusion as a flexible, partnership-based business model, which will ensure its sustainability and viability in the long term and will ensure the delivery of high quality arts and cultural programs, allowing for audiences and arts workers (including performers and strategic partners) to inform the development of these programs.
Is gender balance an issue for your board? Do you prioritise it?
Cultural Infusion holds gender equality to be an important facet of governance.
What are the key sector issues that are being discussed at board level?
The key sector issues that Cultural Infusion’s board is discussing includes, but is not limited to, the following:
· Funding support
· Optimal internal structures
· Strategic planning
In his capacity as CEO and a Director of Cultural Infusion, Peter Mousaferiadis this year met with other members of the Innovation and Business Skills Australia (IBSA) Cultural and Related Industries Sector Advisory Committee in order to:
· Identify the need for research on current and future training and workforce development needs
· Develop appropriate training solutions specific to the cultural sector as well as cross-sectoral skills for the contemporary world of work.
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