Lessons in Governance: Daniel Kok

Leader of Tomorrow Daniel Kok, reflects on ‘governance’, one of the topics we explored on a recent ADLP day.

Governance. What a word. I think we can all admit not the sexiest of words but still, one that has tremendous power.

In a recent Leaders of Tomorrow session – with guest Hilary Carty of Clore Leadership – we were given the opportunity to learn more about what this word means. At first, it all sounds a bit scary but really, it’s not at all.

So, what is governance all about?

Governance is the action or manner of governing an organisation. It is usually the Board who is responsible for the governance – ensuring a company is effectively and properly run and is meeting its overall purposes.

That’s it. By definition it sounds simple enough and in theory it is. A bunch of people looking at the company to make sure that everything is as it should be.

However, is saying how everything ‘should be’, enough?

Big decisions are made at these meetings, anything from how the company wants to spend its money, who gets recruited into senior positions and what areas the company wants to focus on. These meetings usually happen four times a year, which is not a great deal of time to make sure that the decisions are fair, to steer the ship in the right direction and to make sure that the company is delivering it’s aims for the community it serves.

If this is the case, then companies need to make sure that the group of people who are making those decisions are as varied and exciting as possible. A room full of the usual suspects is not pushing you forward as a company. Homogeneous and stale voices are not exciting.

We’re constantly being reminded about how the arts needs to stay relevant. Those people sat around the table deciding what goes on your stages are the same people in charge of keeping your company current.

Change is happening.

We are seeing different faces and hearing different voices helping to make those decisions. However, is the change happening fast enough? I’m a bit fatigued from waiting and talking about what ‘could’ happen or what is about to happen.

Let’s make it happen it now.

I have a simple task for companies, venues and organisations. Have a look at your Board and ask yourself, whether these group of people are the people you want in the room to help decide what you do. What are they contributing to the conversation? Is there anyone challenging you? Is it all a bit boring?

There’s nothing worse than being boring.

So, if you haven’t already met us, I think now is the perfect time to introduce you to the ADLP cohort of 2018.


Come talk to us. We’re a bunch of professional, talented and immensely passionate theatre workers and we’d love to work with you to shape the future of the arts. We have experiences, skills and knowledge that can help enrich your companies and we want to collaborate with you on that journey.

You might be thinking that you don’t have any room at the table right now, however, I’m sure you can squeeze one more person in. You might be thinking that your organisation is doing kind of OK at the moment, well, don’t you want it to do better? You might be thinking that you’ll think about it at the next board meeting, well sorry, it’ll be too late.

If you really say that you’re passionate about providing great art for everyone then you need the people who are helping to make the decisions to also reflect everyone.

Saying that it’s impossible to reflect absolutely everyone is not an excuse to not even try.

Governance… not the most appealing of words… but so important for things to move forward. The introductions have now been made and the ball is now in your court. I’m looking forward to hearing how some of us, and others, have been invited to help shake things up a bit because as I said before…

…there’s nothing worse than being boring.

Daniel Kok began his career at Battersea Arts Centre after studying Performing Arts at the University of Chichester. He is currently the Arts Producer at Cambridge Junction, programming the Arts programme and developing local and national artists. He was previously the Assistant Producer (Theatre & Dance) at the Barbican, and Programming and Participation Assistant at arstdepot in North London. Alongside his work at Cambridge Junction, Daniel is an Associate Artist of Bootworks Theatre, a group of artists who work in a range of disciplines and contexts, is a London Theatre Consortium MOBO Fellow and a Leader of Tomorrow on the Artistic Director Leadership Programme.

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