Breakthrough brings leadership teams together to transform their organisations, with a whole-team approach to inclusivity.  

Breakthrough is making a return in 2025!

Below you can see the details of the previous programme, and if you would like to be among the first to hear about next year’s content, register your interst in the box on the right.

Please note: Structure, content and speakers noted below are subject to change for 2025.

Inclusivity encompasses programming, talent development, workforce, communication, monitoring, measurement, leadership and governance. It is about identifying who is under-represented or excluded and which communities are under-served, and taking action to address this. 

Breakthrough helps unlock the changes needed to move forward. The programme works through modules structured to develop tailored plans, support and learning for you and your organisation.

Breakthrough brings organisation leaders and their Senior Management Teams (SMTs) together, to make their organisations truly inclusive for the long-term.

It combines 5 online workshops and 3 on-location sessions, plus coaching sessions. The on-location sessions take place in Birmingham.

If ticket price is an obstacle to attending, please contact us and we will do our best to help:

Register your interest



Organisation often come to Breakthrough because they are stuck, for reasons including: 

  • Fear – of getting it (publicly) wrong 
  • Inertia – inability to get things moving, or to get change to stick
  • Time – wanting to be inclusive but not being able to achieve without an external focus and timeline 
  • Lack of knowledge – not knowing where to start 
  • Overwhelm – it feels too big and difficult 

AMA has been running Breakthrough since 2019, delivering change for dozens of organisations.

I truly feel we’ve made a good start on our ‘breakthrough’ and I have learned a lot from this process… it will take everyone in the organisation to live and breathe the values and for thinking about EDI in all decisions to become second nature. There’s a lot of work still to do but thanks to this programme with AMA, I’m actually looking forward to giving it a go.

Chris Blythe, CEO, Leeds Grand Theatre & Opera House
Photo of one of our trainers at a session


Breakthrough combines online content sessions with face-to-face content and peer support sessions, supported by 1:1 coaching.

It takes you and your team through a comprehensive review of how to develop your specific organisation’s processes and structures. It’s designed to be a  supportive 12 month programme structured around 4 modules that are essential to the future of your organisation: 

  • Your context, vision, goals for and plan for inclusivity
  • Your leadership journey 
  • Your recruitment journey 
  • Your customer / audience journey 

This format has proven impact for organisations: you can read about change AMA has helped unlock for previous participants below.

Module 1: Context & Your Breakthrough Goals

This module helps you identify the areas you and your organisation can focus on to have the most impact, and how you can plan to realise your Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (EDIB) ambitions.

26 Jan 2023: 1pm — 5pm, face-to-face workshop at the Library of Birmingham: Introduction and your organisation’s Benchmark

8 Feb 2023: 2pm — 4pm online: your Breakthrough Goal and Plan

Mar 2023: CEO and/or SMT Coaching

Module 2: Your Leadership Journey

This module helps you and your team think about what your organisation needs to do differently – structures, process, strategy – to make sure that you are being truly inclusive, both internally and externally in relation to your organisation.

30 Mar 2023: 2pm — 4pm online: Conscious Inclusion

19 Apr 2023: 1pm — 5pm, face-to- face workshop at Think Tank, Birmingham: Allyship, Shame and Guilt

Module 3: Your Recruitment Journey

In this module you’ll take a look at how you are getting on with applying the plans from Module 1. It will also look at how you can deal with any uncomfortable issues or challenges arising from the work. This provides a foundation to look at your organisation’s approach to recruitment with an inclusive lens.

14 Jun 2023: 1pm — 5pm, face-to- face workshop at Think Tank, Birmingham: Privilege and Recruitment

5 Jul 2023: 2pm — 4pm online: Inclusive Culture and Leadership

Module 4: Your Customer / Audience Journey

This module introduces new content to help you think holistically about your customer journey, your audience communities, and meeting them where they are. It includes a look at the work completed as part of your Leadership Journey. The final session of the programme looks back at progress made, as well as how you can take the learning and work forward independently.

4 Oct 2023: 2pm — 4pm online: Customer Journey

Nov 2023: CEO and/or SMT Coaching

6 Dec 2023: 2pm — 4pm online: Next Steps, Review and Acknowledgement of Successes

Hear from previous participants

[Mike speaks to camera] 

So we got involved in Breakthrough because we wanted to look at our recruitment and how us as an organisation reflects the ambition we have to diversify our audiences and diversify our artistic programme.

 What we were expecting were some new ideas and some support along the way in that process but what we got was a much more deep, complex in the best possible sense of the word, nuanced and supportive programme than we ever could have dreamed.

 And it’s connected us as a senior team, connected us as whole organisation-wide team as well, in something that we all care passionately about and now feel equipped to properly take on.


[Linda speaks to camera]

Hi there, I’m Linda, I’m Head of People at Square Chapel Arts Centre in Halifax.

I’ve really enjoyed the Breakthrough Programme. It’s been a really inspiring and thought-provoking process, it’s given us the opportunity to really examine what happens in our organisation and given us the momentum to kind of achieve the goals that we want to achieve and get to the place where we want our organisation to be.

So it’s really got us talking at work and with our volunteers and with our Board and really it’s been great to meet people from other organisations as well and see that they share similar problems and similar challenges and feel a bit more reassured and a bit more confident in the ability to kind of deal with them.

It’s certainly put EDI on the map for us, not that it wasn’t there before.

It’s given us confidence to celebrate the things we do and to shout a bit louder about the things that we do as well and that’s really, really important.

So yeah, I definitely recommend it, I will say to anybody don’t be scared, don’t be phased by the challenges and the kind of deadlines because I found the team, Mel and Ishreen and Cath so supportive and so understanding when we’ve sort of hit hurdles and felt like we’ve not done anything but we’ve actually have done something and they’ve been you know, kind enough and really good enough to acknowledge that and point out that we have done more than we’d thought we’d done in the first place. So thank you.


[Laura speaks to camera]

Hello, I’m Laura Keough, HR director for Brighton Dome & Festival. And I recently participated in the AMA’s Breakthrough programme.

In terms of how things were before we did the programme, as an NPO we already had an equalities action plan and took equalities extremely seriously in our organisation.

What we hadn’t had time to do, though, was to spend time as a management team, exploring equalities issues to such depth. We also wanted to get beyond compliance, and be just as ambitious in diversifying our workforce as we are in our programming and audience development. In terms of what we got out of the programme, being able to work as a management team to set stretch targets for ourselves, to really start to improve the diversity of our workforce, particularly in our underrepresented groups was really important to us.

We’ve used all of the exercises that we covered on the programme with our own staff at our staff share days. And in fact, that work helped us to create our own equalities posters, which are now on display in our buildings.

Whether we would recommend the programme, absolutely, because we have, we have now new tools that we can use with our staff, such as the Breakthrough plan, and we can refresh that plan on an annual basis to continue the good work that we’ve already started on equalities and Mel put us in contact with another arts organisation who had created their own staff equality groups. And through that contact, we hope to be setting up our own staff equality group very shortly.



Breakthrough has led to significant and lasting change for participating organisations, and the programme continues to work with organisations to help them move forward and embed the work with purpose and clarity. 

The Breakthrough pilot has resulted in significant ‘breakthroughs’ – major and minor systemic changes in organisations that have been accomplished in a short time span. The results herald the start of new internal cultures and show that system change can be achieved through committed and aware leadership and a willingness to involve the organisations as a whole

Extract from independent evaluation report published by SAM-Culture

We have used all of the exercises that we covered on the programme with our own staff at our staff share days and so we found this incredibly useful… we have new tools (such as our breakthrough plan) which we can develop on an annual basis to continue the work that we are doing.

Laura Keogh, HR Director, Brighton Dome & Festival Ltd.
An AMA team member and trainer talking


Trainers include

Ishreen Bradley

Ishreen is Chief Inspiration Officer, Belonging Pioneers. She guides professional leaders to navigate complex situations and achieve success with clarity, confidence and courage. Her focus is to cultivate mindsets and cultures that acknowledge valuable difference, inclusive behaviours and authentic leadership.   

Ishreen has many years experience working with arts and culture organisations, including Serpentine, South East Dance, Artsadmin, Brighton Dome and Brighton Festival.

“I’m inspired by the depth of honest enquiry each person in the programme engages with, and the results they’re able to produce as a result of their courage and action”

Ishreen Bradley

Mel Larsen

Mel is an independent Marketing Consultant, who has worked in the arts across the UK and abroad for over 30 years. As an independent audience development Consultant & Coach her clients have included Arts Council England, Australian Arts Council, CARIFORUM, The British Council, Still Art Sweden and MLA London. 

Mel’s worked with arts and culture organisations including Discover Childrens Story Centre, Contemporary Visual Arts Network, ArtsAdmin, School for Social Entrepreneurs, Cornwall Museums Partnership, Dublin City Council Culture Company.

“It’s great to have the opportunity to bring cultural leaders and their teams together to discuss and share this critical and timely opportunity”

Mel Larsen