Scholar Profile - Rebecca MacFarling PDF Print E-mail
Rebecca MacFarling


Director of Sales and Marketing at Musica Viva Australia
Awarded a scholarship for Social Leadership Australia's Sydney Leadership Program, 2013

What sort of work does your organisation do?

Musica Viva Australia is a not-for-profit arts company and the world's largest entrepreneur of chamber music, presenting around 2,000 concerts each year. Founded in 1945, it has two key business functions: chamber music concert presentation and music education in schools across Australia. Our chamber music concerts include national tours by the world’s best musicians in our International Concert Season. Our Musica Viva In Schools program provides students with live performances in their schools and empowers their teachers to teach quality music programs through training and resources. Increasingly our music education resources are delivered digitally, an important innovation for our organisation.

Describe a typical day's work.

I’m not sure there is a typical day. The work done by the marketing team covers PR and communication, sales campaigns, CRM and database, box office, website and social media. At the moment, my focus is on ensuring that our 2014 sales campaigns continue to bring strong results – so far, so good. This means keeping the pace of the campaign roll-outs and responding to any sales slow-downs with more PR, advertising, direct marketing or digital activity. 

My organisation is also going through a process of imagining the future. How will we present concerts? What will music education look like? How do we best engage our audiences and through what technologies? This is challenging and exciting work for all of us involved. It’s a little like being an explorer!

What were some of the key learnings from the Sydney Leadership course?

The Sydney Leadership program teaches social leadership, where changes to values, beliefs and attitudes are required to move forward to solve big picture issues and mobilise people in order to do so. Sydney Leadership places its participants in real-life systems (such as prisons, homeless communities, the disability sector) and asks us to analyse and attempt to understand what is truly going on.

The course challenged me to reflect on my purpose, the roles I play in my organization and my system, how to best use conflict to create innovation, and how to lead people to innovate.

How has it impacted / changed / benefited your role and your organisation as a whole?

Sydney Leadership program has fundamentally changed the way I lead my team and others in my organisation. It’s made me more reflective, more aware of challenges, and more able to work with conflict. I also met the most interesting people – people working in different organisations and industries, who were also charged with leading change.

How did you come to be working in the not-for-profit sector?

I have always loved the arts – music, theatre, dance, visual art. You name it, I was in the audience! I was brought up in a family where music was always playing, and my sister and I were regularly “dragged” to out to see an orchestra or a play with my parents. Unlike many in the arts sector, I was never trained as an artist, but I make a great audience member.

After more than a decade in the corporate world, a marketing opportunity came up at Sydney Symphony Orchestra. To my surprise, I got the job and I’ve been here ever since. I feel my corporate experience has complimented the work I do in the NFP sector, although the challenges are quite different.

What do you feel is most needed to sustain and build the impact of the not-for-profit sector?

Strong leadership. The NFP sector is filled with wonderful, driven, passionate people, trying to make a difference. Their work and their drive are generally very inspiring.  However, those of us in the NFP sector face different challenges with resourcing and are often at the behest of funding decisions made by others. This means that we need to influence others more effectively to ensure our collective livelihoods.

What is something interesting / unique / unusual about you?

My work is my passion. I go to any and every arts event around town – visual art, performance, music, theatre, comedy. It’s a habit I haven’t been able to kick.

Click here to read about other ASF scholars.

Click here to read more about the Sydney Leadership program.

"Sydney Leadership program has fundamentally changed the way I lead my team and others in my organisation."


Rebecca is currently the Director of Sales and Marketing at Musica Viva Australia, working across both the company's national concert tours and its education programs. Prior to her appointment at Musica Viva, she held marketing roles at Bell Shakespeare and the Sydney Symphony, and in financial services and news media. She is also chair of the Sydney Arts Management Advisory Group.

In December 2012, ASF awarded Rebecca a scholarship to attend the 2013 Sydney Leadership Program run by Social Leadership Australia.


Annual revenue / size:

Large - $5m - $25m pa

Segment of NFP sector:

Culture & Research

Operating in: