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Call for Participants: THRIVE Programme

As part of the Feel Your Feelings: Thriving in the Cultural Workplace research programme, we are offering self-led programme of content, tools and exercises to cultural leaders throughout November.


THRIVE DIY is a self-led, online programme offering content, tools and exercises designed to support cultural leaders to navigate the emotional landscape of leadership, and build capacity for thriving in the workplace. We will explore how to work with your feelings and the body as a source of power, rather than a drain on your energy and creativity, through the lens of cultivating a healthy relationship with yourself, others and the systems you interact with.

THRIVE DIY aims to offer a valuable experience whilst inviting participants to contribute their reflections and feedback to a collective inquiry into the role of emotions in leadership, and the effectiveness of the THRIVE approaches and tools to address real challenges that you're facing. This collective inquiry will result in the production of a digital and print resource pack for the sector.

Participation is free and you can unsubscribe anytime if you decide it's not for you.

Context: why this programme now?

Despite the cultural sector being a fountain of soul-full experiences for our audiences, too often our own needs for wholeness and authentic expression are sidelined in service of delivering powerful experiences for others. In this (post)pandemic era, this importance of creating space for feelings and their wisdom to be heard has never been more urgent and important. As the Covid crisis continues to pose challenges to leaders, employees and organisations across the economy, the “soft” skills that support people to thrive in rapidly changing circumstances are often sidelined under pressure. At work, our feelings are too often taboo, and anecdotally, cultural workers - like many people across the wider social landscape - are often actively repressing their feelings in environments which provide little context for vulnerability, inhibiting the expression of authentic strengths, gifts and creativity that are core to our wellbeing and success.

While there is a wealth of academic research documenting the importance of psychological safety and vulnerability to the creativity, wellbeing and resilience of organisations and workers, there is still a need for research-based tools and practices that can support a paradigm shift towards leadership that creates conditions for collective thriving.

The THRIVE coaching programme and the wider Feel Your Feelings action research seek to offer and test approaches and tools for cultural leaders to begin to rewire this status quo. It aims to meet urgent needs by providing a supportive context and a resource-base to re-centre the wellbeing and creative empowerment of cultural leaders as a paradigm for healthy organisations.

Feel Your Feelings is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Clore Leadership and supervised by Dr Christopher Bilton of the University of Warwick's Centre for Cultural Policy and Media Studies.


Past programmes

THRIVE is an eight-week programme of group workshops, individual coaching sessions, tools and approaches designed to support leaders to navigate the emotional landscape of leadership, and unlock internal resources of energy and creativity to lead through challenging times.

It will run from 14 October - 6 December 2022, offering 10+ hours of group coaching (two live workshops, one online) and two individual coaching sessions.

The programme seeks to go beyond ideas about "resilience" to nurture a state of "thriving", where you feel able to grow and succeed despite volatile circumstances. It will unpack how the quality of our relationships with ourselves, others and the wider environment affect our emotional landscape, and explore how to move through difficult feelings to uncover new reserves of energy, fresh perspective, confidence and action. It will offer insights, exercises, tools and resources while also being a forum for trouble-shooting real-time challenges and case studies of change brought forward by participants.

The programme will involve:

  • Three group workshops on self, team and systemic leadership with a focus on cultivating “internal” resources for thriving

  • Two individual coaching sessions

  • A facilitated peer group platform to stay connected during the programme (and after if desirable)

  • Opportunity to help shape resources that can benefit yourself, your team and the wider sector after the programme

Combining research-based content, embodiment practices, systemic and somatic coaching, the curriculum includes:

  • A range of embodiment practices that will deepen your connection to your body, intuition and emotional wisdom

  • Content, tools and practices that offer a trauma-informed and compassionate approach to personal development and team leadership

  • Approaches to support you (and your team) to thrive at work

  • Group and individual coaching time dedicated to addressing real case studies of specific challenges you are facing in this moment

The final programme will be informed by participant applications, as it seeks to respond actively to what is currently live for you, based on the foundations of a pre-existing, practice- and research-based framework.

Format and Location

THRIVE is delivered online (Zoom) and live. The two live workshops will take place 20th and 21st October at Pavillion Dance South West, Bournemouth.


THRIVE is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Clore Leadership and Pavillion Dance South West, and free of charge with the condition that participants:

  • Can commit to completing the full programme and participating on the dates outlined here

  • Participate in a reflective evaluation process during the programme that will contribute insights to the action research project (read more here)

  • Offer feedback on a deck of resources that they will receive after the programme ends to use in their ongoing development and in their teams (if relevant)

Please note: participants will be responsible for arranging their own travel and accommodation for the live workshops in Bournemouth.

Who it's for

THRIVE is open to cultural leaders based in the UK, by which we mean individuals currently in positions of leadership or senior management, including individuals leading projects or teams within larger organisational structures or as freelancers.

Selection will be based on:

  • Self-declared motivation to attend and level of need for this kind of intervention

  • Curating a diverse group in terms of age, gender, ethnicity and geography

  • Willingness to contribute to the reflective evaluation / research process

  • Ability to commit to completing the full programme

Please tell us about any access requirements you have in your application so that we can plan ahead to enable your full participation.

Your facilitator

Sholeh Johnston is an executive coach, facilitator and researcher who has worked with leaders and organisations across the cultural and business sectors. She has designed THRIVE based on the findings of previous research, Vulnerability and Cultural Leadership (2018), the recurring needs expressed by coachees and participants of her previous leadership development programmes and work in the cultural and climate sectors, and her own journey of healing trauma through a range of different coaching and healing modalities. THRIVE has been developed and tested in collaboration with coaches and collaborators working across the fields of leadership, personal development, creativity, healing and wellbeing.

Application process and deadline

The application is a Google Form that takes about 15 minutes to complete.

If Google Forms is not accessible for you, write to for alternative formats.

Applications will close at Midnight on Sunday 9th October 2022.

Selection will take place by 11th October 2022.

Applicants who are not selected will still have the opportunity to participate in an online, self-led version of the THRIVE process throughout November 2022.


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