Q & A with Fearghus Ó Conchúir
Collaboration: Place: Change Project Manager Nicola Naismith talks to Fearghus Ó Conchúir about his role as facilitator on the Developing Leaders programme

The opportunity to reflect on what matters to you, on what you want to achieve through and for the cultural community is a huge gift, particularly at this moment when so much has changed in the world.– Fearghus Ó Conchúir

The Collaboration: Place: Change Developing Leaders Programme is now open for applications. Nicola Naismith, CPC Project Manager talked to Fearghus Ó Conchúir about his role as facilitator on the programme, his own leadership experience – and why this opportunity could be the perfect thing for you right now!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself Fearghus?

I’m a choreographer and dance artist. Recently, I’ve been leading a project with MicroRainbow International offering online dance workshops to LGBT refugees and asylum seekers.  From 2018-2020, I was Artistic Director of National Dance Company Wales and since returning to freelance life at the start of lockdown, like many others, I’m taking time to sense what my next creative steps will be.  I’m Deputy Chair of the Arts Council of Ireland.  Since being a Clore Fellow in 2005 I have contributed to all the Clore Leadership programmes as facilitator, coach and speaker, which is how I’m involved with CPC.

What does being a facilitator on Collaboration: Place: Change Developing Leaders Programme entail?

(Speaking as a choreographer) I think of my role as being to help create the conditions and structures that allow for every individual to be at their best, learn at their best, contribute at their best, AND for everyone to be able to do that together, benefitting from the similarities and differences of experience that exist in a group.  It’s no good – in a dance studio or in a leadership development environment – for one person to be at their best at the expense of everyone else. So my job as facilitator, having been through that kind of training experience as a participant myself, is to support and challenge individuals and to support and challenge the group.

What would you say to people who initiate creative projects or forge partnerships but don’t identify themselves as leaders?

If leadership is about making or enabling change, then it is something that people can do from any position within an institution and from all the positions outside institutions too. Freelance artists, producers, curators, arts workers who make projects happen without the resources of institutions to mobilise often need even greater leadership skills than someone working inside a large organisation and one of the great benefits of the CPC approach is to bring people with different experiences together as participants and contributors to show that leadership can – and needs to – take different forms.

You are a very experienced facilitator and cultural leader in your own right – what would you say to someone unsure about making an application to the CPC Developing Leaders Programme?

The opportunity to reflect on what matters to you, on what you want to achieve through and for the cultural community is a huge gift, particularly at this moment when so much has changed in the world.  In my experience, most people are worried that everyone else is brilliant and that they aren’t, so don’t let imposter syndrome put you off.  Also know that as well as championing your learning and development, we’ll be trying to facilitate a caring environment, mindful of the conditions of access and ways of working that will make it comfortable, sustainable and inclusive.  So don’t think that this isn’t for you.  We want to practise in this programme the ways of being together that we want to see more of in the world – and you can help that happen.

Fearghus Ó Conchúir is a choreographer and dance artist who has collaborated with artists and experts from other disciplines to make film and live performances that have been seen across Europe, in the US, Australia, Hong Kong and China. He has been Curator of the Artistic Programme at Firkin Crane in Cork, Trustee of the BBC Performing Arts Fund and a board member of Dance Ireland, Dance Digital, Project Arts Centre and Create. The first  Ireland Fellow on the Clore Leadership Programme, he continues to contribute to the programme’s work, in the UK and internationally, as a facilitator, coach and speaker. Fearghus is a Project Artist, a member of Project Arts Centre’s associate artist scheme.

If you are interested in making an application to the Developing Leaders programme please read the key information document and application forms which can be found here .

The closing date for applications is the 21st September 2020 at 10am.

Image: Kirsten McTernan

You may also like...

Will we remember all of this in the After?

While exploring South London’s Sydenham Hill Wood, Ellah P. Wakatama remembers the past and imagines the unknowable near future


19th May 2020

Long Read
New Writing

Collaboration: Place: Change

NCW leads exciting new art and culture leadership programme across Norfolk and Suffolk


29th August 2019


Ben Okri urges active citizenship

Discussing leadership, responsibility and insurmountable challenges


15th August 2018

The Writing Life