Leadership in the Cultural Sector

LinC (Leadership in the Cultural sector) is a 14 month part time learning programme for cultural professionals in the Netherlands: leaders and managers from large, medium or small cultural organisations, as well as others with a key role in the cultural field. Since the start of the programme in september 2013, we have welcomed participants with a background in the arts, creative industry, media organisations, archives, libraries, national heritage institutions and cultural funds.

LinC aims to develop a more connected, active and innovative cultural sector. Besides, LinC strives to create a network of leaders and innovators in the cultural field. Topics discussed during the programme include (personal) leadership, innovation, social trends, professional development, collaboration and new business models. Participants are encouraged to ‘learn by doing’ and to experiment and work together.

LinC is executed by Utrecht University School of Governance (USG) and Kennisland, in cooperation with Utrecht University of the Arts and coaching and training firm ‘Coaching in de Cultuur’. The programme offers a broad range of (inter)national experts. LinC is financed by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.


As LinC is a national programme, the courses are given in dutch. There are however elements with a more international profile, such as the Cultural Connections-events, which are optionally english spoken. Besides a near-native level of dutch, participants should meet the following requirements:

  • Ambition, passion and potential to realise change and improvements in the cultural sector;
  • Willingness to generously share your network and services in the general interest of the sector;
  • Eagerness to put business or artistic innovations into practice;
  • You are standing at the crossroads in your professional career;
  • Enough time to follow the programme and to be present at the course meetings.

The overall success of the programme is largely dependent on having a balanced group dynamic. Co-creation and knowledge community are core concepts in LinC. Therefore, we strive towards a diverse group of cultural professionals with different backgrounds.

The programme

LinC consists of three components: ‘Labs’, ‘Learning tracks’ and ‘Open space’. These are interconnected; participants are for instance challenged to apply lessons learned during the labs to the learning tracks.


The thematic labs are knowledge-intensive course meetings (2-4 days) where participants can acquire new knowledge, inspiration and insights on developments in leadership and the cultural sector. Participants are encouraged to explore the ways in which the information offered is valuable for their own work. We use various work forms to achieve this; e.g. simulations, group debates, panel discussions and speakers.

LinC consists of eight labs in total. The first labs focus on personal leadership. Participants map their own strengths and weaknesses. Throughout the programme, the focus shifts towards collective leadership, first within the own organisation, then in operating with other organisations and finally as a cultural network within society.

The lab themes are:

  1. Outside in. Participants get a broad view of relevant societal and economic developments as well as changes within the cultural field.
  2. Inside out. Participants draw a personal leadership profile and set goals: what do they want to learn and achieve in the programme?
  3. Leadership and organisational dynamics. What is the context in which participants act? How do they interact with their environment?
  4. Open and social innovation. Now that participants know where they stand, we explore tools and methods for change.
  5. Partnerships. To implement new ideas, partners are needed. How do partnerships actually work? Are the current partners also the desired ones?
  6. Business planning and business models. No plan can succeed without a solid fundament. What should this look like, and what possibilities do new opportunities such as crowdfunding offer?
  7. Team management. The focus shifts to the cultural field as a whole. How does it function, and what implications does this have for leadership in the field of culture?
  8. Public leadership. It is time to leave the safe environment of the learning programme. Participants draw up the balance, share their insights and take a position: how do they look at their progress, what type of leadership is needed and to what extent are they now capable to turn this into practice?
Learning tracks

Three ‘Learning Tracks’ run parallel with the labs:

1. Reflection

Participants continuously monitor themselves throughout the programme. We offer tools to do this, such as ‘intervision sessions’ (group talks) and ‘360 degrees monitoring’ (individual monitoring). We also offer personal coaching. In order to graduate, the participants are required to write a personal reflection paper.

2. Interventures

Participants form teams to work on a real case, brought forward by organisations from within and outside of the cultural field. In their Interventure (the word is a contamination of ‘Intervene’ and ‘adventure’), participants are encouraged to acquire new skills and to intervene actively in their case to generate results. They present their results in Lab 8.

3. Cultural Connections

Here, participants get the opportunity to connect with one another and with professionals from within and out of the cultural field. Cultural Connections are meetings organised to build the LinC Network, to learn from each other and to explore connections with the wider society.

Open space

LinC participants are encouraged to develop this component of the programme themselves. A series of optional master classes is offered on the topics of financial management, HRM, change management, copyright and other laws, lobbying and storytelling. Furthermore, there is also a personal budget that participants can use for coaching, additional courses or specific training.

For any questions or additional information, please contact linc@uu.nl or call +31 (0)30 253 8971.