With interest building towards the construction of the West Kowloon Cultural District, more people are inspired to take courses in arts administration. The school of humanities at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) is launching an advanced cultural leadership programme this autumn. It will be the first cultural leadership programme in Asia. 'It aims to provide outstanding cultural leaders with the practical skills, intellectual perspectives and global networks needed to seize new opportunities, strengthen their organisations and deliver a world-class vision,' says Daniel Chua, head of the school of humanities, HKU, and director of the programme. Teaching will comprise lectures and presentations, debate and discussion, and a project by each participant that will be shared at a retreat. They will also carry out a task during the course of the year. 'The curriculum is designed to offer international and local perspectives on cutting-edge issues, exemplified through the firsthand experiences of individual tutors,' Chua says. 'The emphasis is not so much on vision as its delivery, achieved through a balanced approach that develops the intellectual depth and practical know-how of each participant.' The programme is attracting keen interest from key cultural figures throughout Asia. 'The application process for the 2011 programme has been successful, attracting CEOs of arts festivals, artistic directors of theatre companies, heads of academic-performing institutions, senior managers in government, independent filmmakers and younger applicants with considerable potential,' Chua says. Fifteen to 20 participants will be admitted each year, the bulk of those will be recruited locally with 10 to 15 per cent from overseas. There are four modules and a series of public lectures and workshops. One is a retreat called Leading Change - Understanding Cultural Leadership, exploring cultural leadership and introduces participants to authentic leadership. They will examine global changes in demographics and technology, and consider their implications for the arts, and provide an introduction to cultural policy and cultural districts. The retreat will draw on the experience of leaders, in the region and internationally, to highlight good practice and will describe approaches and styles of leadership through practical examples. One of the courses is called doing the business - strategies for a viable and sustainable cultural organisation. Students will look at the strategies and skills needed to achieve a viable and sustainable cultural organisation. It will explore business models, provide an introduction to risk management, and include sessions on the role of producers and the skills required in negotiating and closing a deal. Good practice in financial management will be highlighted and participants will discuss avenues for income generation, including fundraising strategies. Another course looks into organisational leadership, effective governance and advocacy. Taking a case study on the Royal Shakespeare Company as its starting point, the module will explore ways of developing a team. Participants will examine the difference between being a manager and a leader, and ways in which leaders at all levels in an organisation can influence upwards as well as outwards. The third course is called engaging the audience - ways to increase and deepen public engagement through branding, marketing, technology and education. Participants will learn ways to increase and deepen public engagement in culture. Topics include branding, marketing and audience development; the role that technology plays in involving people in the arts; and the need for cultural leaders to place education at the heart of their organisations. The module will be held in Shanghai, and will involve a study tour to Suzhou and local case studies that explore critical issues in engaging the public through preservation, conservation and urban regeneration. Applications will be accepted from July. Classes will start in January next year and continue until the following December. The programme fee is HK$160,000. This includes tuition, reading materials, group meals and receptions, registration fees for related public events, lectures and conference, return flight from Hong Kong to Shanghai, and accommodation on a twin sharing basis. Participants can upgrade to single accommodation at an additional cost. Those successfully completing the programme will be eligible to take part in a master of arts programme in cultural leadership at an advanced level if such a programme is launched by the university at a future date.