Laura Fungai Ganda
- Course: MA Arts Management and Heritage Studies
- Year of graduation: 2019/2020
- Nationality: Zimbabwean
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your current career?
I am the co-founder of Creative Lounge trust based in Zimbabwe, which focuses on supporting the creative and cultural industries in curating, research, arts management and arts advocacy. I am a curator, researcher and arts management consultant working mainly in visual arts, film and cultural heritage. I have curated exhibitions in Zimbabwe around identity, resistances and gender. I am also involved in creative entrepreneurship projects with the British Council to support creative enterprises.
My research interests have resulted in a curatorial text for the Fellbach Triennial in Germany under the theme ‘Vibration of things’ and an online publication on commoning practices in artistic institutions and practice. I am a Chevenning Scholar, which enabled me to take up my studies at the University of Leeds.
Please tell us about any other roles you’ve had since graduating from Leeds.
Since graduation I have also taken up a curatorial research residency in Berlin where I was interested in forms of social power that emerged within the historical links of Germany and Africa. I have also participated in a curatorial intensive in Kampala Uganda, implemented by Independent Curators International (ICI) as a way of exploring curatorial themes and exhibition making processes on the African Content. I am Global Culture Relations alumni, as I took part on the Global Cultural relations programme in Brussels where we explored ways of enabling sustainable cultural relations platforms in Europe and the rest of the world.
How do you think the skills and knowledge you developed at Leeds helped with your career success?
The University of Leeds helped to really focus on my key interests in heritage, contemporary art and arts management. It was a crucial balance that I sought to really make an impact in my own context as an professional from Africa. Having that balance has really had an impact on my career. Leeds was also very practical in approach with visits to museums, access to the latest books and the demands on research and essay writing really sharpened my critical thinking skills. I was able to see the possibilities of the diverse ways my career can grow and really influenced the opportunities that I have sought so far, especially the international ones.
What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?
The course at Leeds allowed me to combine arts management and elements of history of art and brought two of my passions together. I wanted to study more contemporary art and heritage issues anchored in running art institutions, and MA Arts Management and Heritage Studies provided exactly that. The MA at Leeds fitted very well in my future career plans. I really wanted to gain experience in managing my own institution and independent practice as a curator, and the course had a hands on module ‘Placements in Context’ which I was really keen on experiencing.
When I was looking for a place to study, I was looking for a city that allowed me to be involved in the arts easily and Leeds offered me that, with lots of volunteering opportunities for students in the diverse programming around the city.
What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?
Studying gender and contemporary art with a focus on East Asia was a true eye opener. After my studies I have encountered works of the women I studied in my travels and it has been the most satisfying feeling ever. I enjoyed the field visits and trips and the guests who came to our lectures. It created a link between theory and practice which made the whole course very practical and interesting. I enjoyed the mini projects that we did for our Interpretations module and engaging with the university gallery, but also working with my fellow scholars.
What would you say about the learning and the support facilities in your School and at the University in general?
The library resources are amazing and the environment so comfortable. I spent many hours there. The support from the School was great and really enabled me to deal with the different styles of learning, essay writing that I was encountering. Everytime I set up a meeting with one of my professors they were ready to listen and I came out feeling empowered.
I love the fact that Leeds has the capacity to support international students which enabled me to deal with the demands of the course, the changing environment and living conditions from what I was previously used to. What excited me most was the existence of cultural ambassadors that allowed connections with other students across the university. I really enjoyed the time I spent in that project as way to settle and make friends.
What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?
An MA in Arts Management and Heritage Studies is a great course that allows you to pursue and combine professional careers. I have combined three key elemmemts that have made me into a rounded professional able to work within my Zimbabwean and international contexts. The course builds critical leadership, creativity and management skills to function as an independent consultant or within an stutution. The course definitely increases your confidence as an arts professional.