“Governance is the process of providing strategic leadership to an organisation. It entails setting direction, making policy and strategic decisions, overseeing and monitoring organisational performance and ensuring overall accountability." John Turbide

Being a Board Member of an arts organisation is both a pleasure and a responsibility. The pleasure comes from associating with an organisation or individual whose work you admire and enjoy, and helping to sustain and develop that work. The responsibility comes from meeting legal compliance requirements, and ensuring that organisational performance meets the expectations of the public and key stakeholders.

According to the Essential Governance Practices for Arts Organisations by the Australia Council, five principles of good arts Governance are:

Vision and Mission

  • Why the organisation exists: Board Members enthusiastically commit their time and effort to a clear and inspiring vision for the future. They ensure alignment of actions and decisions towards delivering on the organisation’s mission, while demonstrating its values.


  • Strategy: The Board contributes to the development of a sound strategic plan to deliver on the vision and identified outcomes, with the CEO. Decisions and discussion are framed around alignment with strategic priorities and risk; and working with the CEO, the strategy is revised as required. Celebrate achievements with staff and other stakeholders.
  • Clear roles and responsibilities: Respective roles and responsibilities of the Board and management are clear. Board Members and executives are appointed on merit, bringing diverse and relevant skills and experience to support the organisation to deliver on its mission and strategy. Effective Boards constructively challenge management and hold them to account. Succession is openly discussed.


  • Monitor and review: The Board ensures it receives the right information regularly. It critically reviews reports on activities and the financial position of the organisation to ensure it is viable, working to its strategic vision and protected against fraud and theft.
  • Remunerate fairly and responsibly: Remuneration is fair, based on the arts sector and relevant to the organisation’s size, while recognising the importance of attracting and retaining talent and motivating management and employees.


  • Manage risk and compliance: Board decisions are informed by a sound understanding of the organisation’s risk management framework that is aligned to purpose and strategy. The Board articulates and role models expectations for conduct, including compliance with relevant laws, regulations and policies.
  • Reporting: The Board holds itself to account for its decisions and integrity of reporting, guided by a sound policy framework. Stakeholders are appropriately informed about the organisation and its performance. Board Member, CEO and artistic Board Member benefits and related party transactions are adequately disclosed. The Board ensures the organisation meets the reporting requirements of funding bodies, employment and other legislated responsibilities.


  • Engage with stakeholders: Board Members recognise the varying needs and expectations of the wide range of stakeholders. The Board builds and maintains relationships and ensures decisions are informed by stakeholders’ best interests whilst furthering the achievement of the organisation’s goals. Board Members promote the organisation through their networks and support fundraising initiatives.
  • Instill the right culture: The Board ensures alignment of all the elements above to support the organisation’s purpose and strategy. The Board sets, aligns and tests the culture, ensuring they constantly role model the organisation’s values and continuous improvement, regularly conducting Board evaluations.