Interview with Artistic Director/CEO at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art – Amrit Gill
In February Amrit Gill stepped into the role of Artistic Director/CEO at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Amrit shares her thoughts and ideas on leadership, diversity and equity as part of International Women’s Day 2021.
You have over 15 years’ experience producing, programming, strategy, international relations, community development and social enterprise. What inspired you to pursue a career in the arts?
No one in my immediate family works in arts, but I have aunts who are very creative, so craft and art making were always around me. My art teachers in high school were really amazing and encouraging. They made me realise that I could turn my love of the arts into a career if I wanted to and could study towards this.
I was most interested in how people connect with the arts, its place and impact in communities. While I was at the College of Fine Arts (now known as UNSW Art & Design) I used to volunteer and take on casual work in the industry where it was available. This gave me a taste of the kind of work I could do in artist development and connecting with audiences, and that set me off on the path I’m on now.
You’ve just stepped into the role of Artistic Director/CEO at Sydney’s 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. What are some of the goals you’ve set for yourself coming into the new position?
Coming into this role, my goals are focused on growth and relevance. I want to continue to grow 4A’s reach into our Asian-Australian communities, grow the visibility of Asian-Australian artists and our work in advocating for diversity and inclusion in the arts industry. I want to ensure we continue to work in service to the arts industry and our community, that we continue to support the development of artists and arts professionals, and we are delivering programs that enliven and enrich the community and bring audiences back to the arts, particularly in Sydney’s Haymarket which has been our home for over 20 years.
Can you tell us about your experience of gender in leadership?
I have been very fortunate to have worked with and been mentored by some incredible women in my career. I’ve also had the privilege of mentoring women new to the industry as they find a pathway through their arts career. Having access to support and safe spaces through formal mentoring arrangements or informal networks has really kept me going.
There are a few informal networks and friendship groups I’ve been drawn into with other women in the arts and women of colour in the arts. The leadership lessons I’ve learned in confidence, empathy, listening, making space, generosity, entrepreneurship, failure, success – I’ve learned from these women.
The conversations of diversity and equity are embedded in 4A – and it is something you identify with as an arts and cultural leader. What role would you like to see 4A play in empowering Asian-Australian women?
At 4A we have a particular focus on art that addresses Asian-Australian experiences. We take very seriously the role and responsibility we have to make more visible Asian-Australian women shaping our culture and society.
How do you think the arts and cultural sector can better forge a world for diverse and marginalised voices?
Often the intention to work with “diverse and marginalised” people and communities does not include self-determination, the intention to make space or de-centre the “dominant” culture. It is often about performing allyship or instrumentalising diversity for content and audiences while maintaining the status quo.
Making space doesn’t have to mean replacing one voice with another. Diversity is having multiple voices existing in the culture at any one time. Make space and move out of the way.
This year the theme for International Women’s Day is #ChoosetoChallenge – what do you think we can do collectively, to help create a gender equal world?
Live and breathe respect, don’t just talk about it, take action.
Learn more about 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art.
Image: Amrit Gill in front of James Jirat Patradoon: ULTRA. Photo by Mariam Arcilla.
Published: 8 March 2021