“Be the change you wish to see in the world” — Mahatma Gandhi

Elroy Fillis-Bell


Arts & Entertainment

Organisation / Company

Joburg Ballet


As the chief executive of Joburg Ballet, 34-year-old Elroy Fillis-Bell has a lot on his plate, overseeing everything from its finances to its development programmes to staff well-being, but he desires to leave the organisation in a better position for the next generation that keeps him motivated. He has learned how to create a working team culture by carefully observing the way others do things and focusing on mutual respect when dealing with his colleagues.

He is filled with pride when thinking back on collaborating with the hard-working team to stabilise the Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria in the period just after the Covid pandemic. Together they were able to steady the organisation in a period of great uncertainty, partly by experimenting with building new and strong revenue streams. He is excited that several arts institutions are now learning to adequately articulate the value proposition of their work, instead of approaching sponsors with a cap-in-hand begging approach, which is far more sustainable.

Elroy says that the youth have no option but to take up the reins in running every aspect of South Africa — from politics to social development to artistic innovation — and be the change they want to see in this world.


BA (Honours in Drama Education & Theatre Directing), University of Cape Town
Diploma in Essential Copyright Law, UNISA/World Intellectual Property Organisation
Masters of Arts in Cultural Policy and Management (currently enrolled), University of the Witwatersrand


When I think of the opportunity I had to work with the incredible, hard-working team at the Javett Art Centre at the University of Pretoria (Javett-UP) to stabilise and strategise the art centre post-Covid, I am filled with pride. I was able to lean on my team as I built a new business and sustainability plan for the organisation, while simultaneously putting a variety of structures and policies in place to steady the organisation during a period of great uncertainty.

We were collectively able to navigate the organisation’s need to build strong revenue streams while balancing the organisation’s mission to provide accessible and community-focused educational programming. It was during this period that I learnt to use the organisation as a laboratory for change. As a management team, we understood that we needed to experiment and accept that occasional failure would be part of that process. These lessons were vital as we transitioned into a new era of financially sustainable arts organisations engaging with a post-Covid society.


I have learnt a great deal from others and have been lucky to be mentored by a variety of people. There is great power in learning through observation: how my manager would navigate a meeting or negotiation or how a colleague would draft a legal response. I would say when you are given the opportunity to question, leave and come back after thinking of and drafting an idea, and then further engaging and interrogating it, has been instrumental in my learning from others.