Interviews & articles

Prue Skene - Governance Now 2019 Speaker Interview

By Cultural Governance Alliance

This year’s Governance Now conference is all about practical solutions to common problems: how to anticipate and plan for the worst whilst delivering the best for your organisation.

In the run up, we caught up with Prue Skene CBE - Lead Governance Associate at Clore Leadership and Chair at Cardboard Citizens - to hear her thoughts on the challenges and opportunities of ‘good governance’.

Prue Skene
Prue Skene CBE

On the governance today and in the future

What are the most pressing governance challenges facing the culture sector today

Uncertainty about the future, politically, environmentally and financially.

How has cultural governance changed in the last 10 years?

It’s risen much higher up the agenda – still a long way to go but there is more recognition of its importance than even 10 years ago.

What’s the greatest opportunity that sector-wide good governance might bring?

The cultural sector being taken seriously at all levels in public life.

How do you see the governance of culture evolving over the next few years, particularly with the civic role of the arts in mind?

There is a huge opportunity to ensure that the benefits that culture brings can be fully embedded in communities and more representation on Boards from all sectors of such communities would give this much greater emphasis.

What can we learn from other sectors - in the UK and internationally - about good governance?

I think we’re pretty lucky in the UK to have a balance between state funding that can bring control and the US culture of “give, get or get off”. We need to maintain that balance.

What’s the future of cultural governance in one word?


On your career

Tell us about your first governance role. How did you learn the ropes?

My first governance role was as a trustee of what was then the Dancers’ Resettlement Fund (now Dancers’ Career Development). There was no training, no information available but I had answered to a Board as Executive Director of Ballet Rambert and sort of learnt as I went along. My fellow trustees were highly committed people and that helped a lot.

What governance challenges are you facing at the moment and what are you doing to overcome them?

As Chair of Cardboard Citizens we are working on creating a diverse Board in every sense of the word; also ensuring that the Board fully adds value to the organisation.

What are the qualities of a good trustee?

Wisdom, empathy, commitment.

What advice would you give prospective trustees/(or chairs) in the cultural sector

See and engage with as much of the work of the organisation as you can; make sure that a variety of voices are heard around the Board table; take the organisation forward!

We hope you’ll join Prue and a host of other fantastic speakers at Governance Now 2019 — the flagship conference for culture sector trustees and professionals.

Governance Now takes place at the Friend’s Meeting House, London on 8th November 2019. Book tickets here.

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