On the move: latest arts sector appointments

Art Gallery of South Australia Director to step down in July

Rhana Devenport ONZM, Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) has announced she will leave the Gallery on 7 July after six years. Devenport will be returning to Sydney and embarking on a series of new national and international projects.

‘It has been an honour and privilege to have led AGSA for the past six years through many successes and some significant challenges, managing a much-loved and deeply respected cultural and tourism destination,’ Devenport said in a statement.

Four million people have visited the Gallery since Devenport was appointed Director in 2018, with AGSA programming reaching an audience of 1.8 million in 2023 alone. During the pandemic, AGSA became one of the most visited galleries in the world, making the Top 100.

‘AGSA is a fearless and innovative leader in South Australia, nationally and internationally. I’m incredibly proud of the ambitious growth of our world-renowned collection and our acclaimed exhibitions program. Exhibitions have included highly successful temporary exhibitions, three impressive Adelaide Biennials, the immensely influential Tarnanthi Festival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, and the wonderful Ramsay Art Prize,’ said Devenport.

‘In 2023 alone, we presented the work of 3148 living artists, which defines AGSA as the foremost national art museum in its support of Australian art.’

Highlights of Devenport’s tenure include:

  • The strategic expansion of AGSA’s collection with new works of art across all media wholly acquired through philanthropic support, fundraising and a series of major bequests such as the James and Diana Ramsay Fund. Major acquisitions include works by Chris Ofili, Daniel Boyd, Nalini Malani, Olafur Eliasson, Sonia Delaunay, Jeffrey Smart and Giorgio de Chirico.
  • Frida & Diego: Love & Revolution in 2023 – the Gallery’s most successful ticketed exhibition in decades with $1.5 million taken at the box office.
  • Staging of Clarice Beckett: The Present Moment.
  • Growing audiences to 1.8 million in 2023 for the Tarnanthi Festival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art and reaching $8.1 million in art sales through the art fair, making Tarnanthi Australia’s leading First Nations art festival and fostering opportunities for First Nations artists across the country at all stages of their careers. Tarnanthi is also now supported by AGSA’s First Nations Advisory Council.
  • An increased international exhibition touring program, which included Living Rocks: A fragment of the universe, an official Venice Biennale Arte and touring the First Nations exhibition Kulata Tjuta to France and Germany.
  • An increased national exhibition touring program that has included Ben Quilty, Kungka Kuṉpu (Strong Women), Brent Harris: Surrender and Catch and Vincent Namatjira: Australia in Colour, which is currently showing at the National Gallery of Australia.
  • The 2024 publication of AGSA 500 celebrating 500 works of art selected from AGSA’s collection, just one percent of the entire collection.

Devenport has also personally curated three international projects: Lee Mingwei: Sonic Blossom, Nalini Malani: Gamepieces and Robert Wilson: Moving Portraits.

‘I will leave AGSA with a clear roadmap for the future of the 143-year-old Gallery through the new Strategic Plan and am deeply honoured to be part of its legacy and helping to shape its future. I wish the new leadership – and our dedicated, inspiring and passionate staff and volunteers – every success moving forwards. It has been an absolute privilege to work so closely with our inspiring donors and supporters of the Gallery,’ said Devenport.

‘Personally, I am very much looking forward to the future and to an exciting next phase of my career, which will clearly benefit from my time at AGSA. I have loved living in Adelaide with all it offers and working closely with so many impressive creatives in a highly collaborative environment here in South Australia.’

SA’s Minister for the Arts Andrea Michael MP said, ‘I sincerely thank Rhana for her exceptional leadership.  She leaves the Gallery with an enviable reputation and a strong plan for the future.  She has championed artists, led an immensely talented curatorial team and grown South Australia’s incredible collection. She has been crucial to building an inviting space for audiences across all generations to enjoy challenging ideas.

‘I would like to congratulate her on AGSA’s most recent and resounding success, the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art on display now, which continues to play a key role nationally in connecting Australian audiences with the contemporary artists of our time.’

Art Gallery Board Chair Sandy Verschoor thanked Devenport for her extensive contribution to the Gallery, successfully steering the Gallery through the challenges of the pandemic, strategically growing the collection and delivering memorable exhibitions and programs.

‘Rhana’s passion for the Gallery, its collection and audiences has driven a profound enhancement of AGSA’s world-renowned collection and launched a series of highly successful exhibitions in Adelaide, across Australia and abroad. We wish her every success for the future.’

A national and international recruitment search will shortly commence to identify a new Gallery Director.

Queensland Theatre Artistic Director announces resignation

Lee Lewis is stepping down as Artistic Director of Queensland Theatre at the end of March, after four years in the role.

‘I’ve made this decision to step down as Artistic Director of Queensland Theatre with a certain sadness, but with the best interests of the company in mind. After carrying the weight of leadership for this extraordinary company for four years, through the hardest time in history, I feel it is best for new energy to inspire artists and audiences alike,’ Lewis said in a statement.

Read our full story here.

Melbourne International Jazz Festival appoints Take Note program leader

Melbourne International Jazz Festival (MIJF) has announced the improvising flautist, composer and producer Erica Tucceri as its 2024 Take Note program leader.

Now in its sixth consecutive year, Take Note addresses the underrepresentation of women and gender diverse musicians in jazz by celebrating them on stage and in high schools across Victoria.

Tucceri integrates concert flute, piccolo, alto flute, bass flute, wooden flutes and electronics into her performances. She has pushed the boundaries of her practice on numerous local releases and has garnered worldwide airplay and praise from the likes of Gilles Peterson and Motor City Drum Ensemble.

Tucceri has played alongside the likes of TEYMORI and Alexander Flood and also performed at festivals such as Golden Plains, Ubud Village Jazz Festival (Indonesia) and last year’s MIJF. She is also is a Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music alumna, has been curated by Grammy-nominated artist Vijay Iyer and is a graduate of both the Jazz and Classical Bachelor degrees from the Victorian College of the Arts.

As the 2024 Take Note leader, Tucceri will receive a $5000 cash bursary to support the development of a new work to premiere at the 2024 MIJF, as well as a professional development package. She will also undertake a dedicated Victorian high school tour, leading improvisation workshops across regional and metropolitan schools, and inspiring the next generation of Australian jazz.

‘I am so honoured to be named the next Take Note leader. This award presents an incredible opportunity for career development and cross-generational mentorship, both for me, and as a contribution towards the next generation of musicians,’ Tucceri said.

‘I have been very lucky to work as a collaborator with many fabulous artists. As I step into the next phase of my career as a solo artist, this award will enable me to write, develop, rehearse and present my first large-scale work under my own name. Joining the Take Note ranks, I am excited to be following in the footsteps of some of my most talented peers and hope to keep building on this powerful initiative to help cultivate a supportive and inclusive music community into the future,’ she added.

Hadley Agrez, CEO and Program Director of the MIJF, added: ‘We are incredibly excited to announce Erica Tucceri as our Take Note program leader for 2024. Erica is a genuine force in the Melbourne music scene and her contributions across so many excellent projects at home and abroad are extraordinary. I look forward to seeing Erica performing her new work at our Festival in October and furthering her artistic development as an ensemble leader through this initiative, which will also see her inspire the next generation of aspiring musicians through workshops in high schools across the state.’

The Take Note initiative is supported by the Harry Kestin Foundation, The Robert Salzer Foundation, The Angior Family Foundation, Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (University of Melbourne), Monash University and ABC Jazz.

Collingwood Yards welcomes new CEO

Inner city Melbourne arts precinct Collingwood Yards has announced the appointment of Lauren O’Dwyer as its new Chief Executive Officer from 15 April 2024.

O’Dwyer brings a wealth of experience and deep understanding of the arts sector in Victoria to the role, having held senior roles in the public service, tertiary institutions, politics and the arts. Her leadership is expected to drive further growth and strengthen the precinct’s mission of supporting artists and creatives in a challenging landscape.

Chair of Contemporary Arts Precincts Ltd, which incorporates Collingwood Yards, Miriam Silva AM said, ‘We are delighted to have someone of Lauren’s calibre and experience join Collingwood Yards as CEO.

‘With a passion for the arts and a proven leadership track record across a number of industries, Lauren will make an invaluable contribution as Collingwood Yards continues on its mission to empower and champion creative artists and arts organisations in Victoria.’

Silva went on to extend her gratitude to Nail Aykan, who has served as interim CEO since June 2023. ‘I would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to Nail Aykan for his strong leadership during this interim period. His dedication and contributions have been invaluable over a period that included considerable growth and scrutiny.’

Read: A place for ‘wondrous things’: new arts precinct opens to the public

O’Dwyer said of her appointment: ‘I am honoured to be appointed as the CEO of Collingwood Yards. This is an exciting period for the organisation as it continues its growth agenda. I am looking forward and am committed to building on the strong foundation laid by my predecessors and to ensuring that Collingwood Yards continues to establish the precinct as a vibrant, inclusive and sustainable space for all forms of artistic expression.’

Before joining Collingwood Yards, O’Dwyer served as the Associate Director of First Nations Foundations, leading the establishment and direction of Arts Centre Melbourne’s First Nations strategic priority including its first Reconciliation Action Plan. She ran unsuccessfully for the seat of Richmond in the 2022 state election and will step down as Chair of PBS 106.7FM, a community broadcaster and tenant at Collingwood Yards, prior to commencing her new role.

Silva said: ‘Collingwood Yards is enviably placed to enable a universally vibrant and creative arts community in Melbourne, and with Lauren at the helm we will find new ways to foster culture, lifelong human learning, social cohesion and artistic leadership.’

Chair departs Outer Space Gallery

Outer Space Gallery, located at Brisbane’s Judith Wright Arts Centre (which reopened in 2021 following a $3.1 million refurbishment) has bid farewell to Board Chair Dirk Yates after three years in the role.

Yates is director of Speculative Architecture, specialising in the design of institutional buildings and landscapes, exhibition design and integrated artworks. During his tenure on the Board, Yates was instrumental in helping Outer Space secure funding from Creative Australia’s Leadership Organisations Funding – making it one of only five Queensland institutes to receive funding through the Visual Arts and Crafts Strategy for 2025-28.

In related news, Outer Space Manager Georgia Hayward has been announced as one of 15 delegates for Creative Australia’s 2024 (re)situate Biennale Delegates Program. Between February and April 2024, Hayward and other delegates from across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand will work with artists, producers and curators from Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Yokohama Triennale and the Venice Biennale to support the seeding of future projects and collaborations. The program will culminate in a trip to Venice for the 2004 Biennale in April.

MSO extends Chief Conductor’s tenure until 2028

Following last week’s news about Principal Conductor in Residence Benjamin Northey, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) Managing Director Sophie Galaise has announced another extension of tenure, this time for Chief Conductor Jaime Martín until 2028, and the addition of the role of Artistic Adviser to his duties.

‘Since joining the MSO as Chief Conductor in 2022, Jaime has been an exceptional leader, collaborator and colleague. We are thrilled that he has accepted a new contract from 2025 onwards that will see him add an Artistic Adviser role to his duties as Chief Conductor,’ Galaise said.

In his first term as Chief Conductor for the MSO, Martín committed the Orchestra to an ongoing exploration of musical and cultural diversity with a focus on elevating First Nations musicians, female composers and cross-genre collaborations. Martín’s new duties as Artistic Adviser will extend his influence on core programming and creative direction, working with the MSO Programming team – including incoming Director of Programming, Andrew Moore.

Martín said he is excited about the future of the MSO and his leadership role: ‘Over the last few years I have had many moments of joy getting to know our incredible players and enthusiastic audiences, along with our dedicated subscribers and Patrons. I have also been able to work with some of Australia’s extraordinary musical talent, creators and performers.

‘It has been a privilege to share some of my favourite artists and composers with Australian audiences; I am excited to explore more beloved and adventurous repertoire in our existing and future programming,’ he continued.

‘I am delighted to be able to renew my commitment to the MSO and wish to thank Managing Director Sophie Galaise, my collegiate artistic family and all the musicians with whom I have had the pleasure of working in this brilliant Orchestra. I want to extend particular thanks to our fabulous audiences from Melbourne, Victoria and across the nation who are central in our planning and who continue to support orchestral music performed in its many different forms.’

Martín recently conducted a five-star performance of Mahler 3 and will next take the baton for the Ryman Healthcare Season Opening Gala: Jaime conducts The Planets, featuring Earth, the World Premiere of the MSO commission by Deborah Cheetham Fraillon AO. In May he conducts a program of Debussy, Strauss and Ethel Smyth before returning in June/July to continue his Dvořák cycle, part of a multi-year recording project in partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra’s recording label, LSO Live.

With the MSO now a fixture on the global stage, Martín will also lead the Orchestra in a special performance in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in July, with future international engagements to follow.

Sydney Symphony Orchestra appoints three new Board Directors

Sydney Symphony Orchestra (SSO) has announced the appointment of three new Board Directors for 2024: KPMG partner and diversity advocate Kate Shaw, political adviser Julie Sibraa and Sydney Symphony Orchestra musician Rosemary Curtain. The three new Directors will join the board immediately.

Chair of the SSO Board, Geoff Wilson said, ‘With these new appointments, Sydney Symphony Orchestra continues to enhance our Board with a diverse range of talented Directors. The notions of growth, ambition, fresh perspectives combined with an existing Board, which is both hard working and energetic, is an exciting proposition for the Orchestra.

‘Each of our new Directors has a passion for classical music and the Sydney Symphony. Rosemary brings a valuable perspective as a musician with the Orchestra, together with existing Board member Kees Boersma.

‘We are excited about the future and look forward to our new Directors contributing to our strategic ambitions for the future, working with an amazing group of musicians, with a proud history and renowned reputation,’ he said.

Already Chair of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra’s Vanguard Collective, Kate Shaw is an experienced leader of enterprise risk management, governance and control consulting services to senior executives and boards across the public sector and large corporate organisations. She is a Partner at KPMG Australia and currently leads the firm’s Governance, Risk and Controls practice in NSW, as well as being the Sydney Geographic Lead for the Consulting Division. 

Over a career of 25 years, Shaw has worked within government, investment banking, insurance and professional services. As a consultant her clients include state and federal government agencies, universities, large listed and unlisted companies across the retail, technology and energy sectors, and not-for-profit entities.

Shaw is an outspoken advocate for diversity and led the establishment of KPMG’s Disability Inclusion pillar in 2020. She is a former Board Director of SHINE for Kids, which provides support to families with a parent in prison.

Julie Sibraa has served at the highest levels of state and federal government over a two-decade period, including senior roles in the offices of a NSW Premier and Treasurer and, in 2022, a six-week contract in the office of the Prime Minister. Between the years 2019 and 2022 she served as Chief of Staff to the Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations and Shadow Minister for the Arts.

Sibraa spent two years as National Policy Manager with Infrastructure Partnerships Australia and also worked in strategic public affairs and government relations over several years. She has served on the board of the Manly-Warringah Rugby League Football Club for 10 years, currently serving as its Chair.

Rosemary Curtin has been a permanent member of the Sydney Symphony’s viola section since 2014 and has been performing regularly with the Orchestra since the mid-1990s; in 2003 she was the recipient of the Orchestra’s Viola Fellowship.

Curtin has also been deeply involved with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra Musicians’ Association (SSOMA), serving as its President for the past six years and Vice-President for the year prior to that, during which time she sat on the Executive of Symphony Orchestra Musicians’ Association (SOMA), the national body for Australia’s professional orchestra musicians. In these roles Curtin has been focused on sustaining and building a positive relationship between management, the Board and musicians and has led the negotiations for three separate Enterprise Bargaining Agreements, as well as the sustainable solution that ensured musicians stayed employed and supported in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She has also worked with a number of other Australian orchestras, including the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Opera Australia Orchestra and Australian World Orchestra. In June 2017 she represented the Sydney Symphony Orchestra performing with the New York Philharmonic in its Global Orchestra Project.

Following postgraduate studies at the Musikhochschule in Munich with Hariolf Schlichtig, Curtin’s professional career began with regular performances with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in London, Asia, the US and Europe.

Curtin holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Sydney. She has been the recipient of numerous scholarships from organisations including the Queen’s Trust, the Big Brother Movement and the Australian Youth Orchestra. She also holds a Diploma in Management Studies from the University of Cambridge and graduated from the Australian Institute of Company Directors Course. She has also been a member of the Classical Music, Opera and Choral Artform Advisory Board for Create NSW.

New CEO for Writers Victoria

Writers Victoria has appointed Julie Skate as its new CEO, succeeding Lucy Hamilton in the role.

‘On behalf of the Writers Victoria Board, I am pleased to welcome Julie to the organisation,’ said Alex Hammond, novelist and Chair of the Writers Victoria Board.

‘Julie offers extensive leadership experience within the not-for-profit arts and cultural sector, and her appointment marks an exciting new chapter for the organisation.’

Skate has held roles in local government, and has previously worked as CEO of Canberra Glassworks and Director, Mackay Regional Gallery. Prior to this, she had a complex career as a production designer for television and special events. Her long-standing interest in the not-for-profit creative sector saw her complete further study, leading to an even more rewarding second career. Skate has an undergraduate qualification in Film and Television and postgraduate qualifications in Interior Design, Arts Management, Indigenous Partnerships and Governance.

‘I am delighted to be joining Writers Victoria and working with the Board during a time of transformative change with the development of a new Strategic Plan,’ Skate said.

‘The work Writers Victoria does in advocacy and support has positively impacted the careers of so many emerging, mid-career and established writers. I am keen to connect, listen and respond to members and to further develop opportunities that have a sustained and positive impact on the creative economy and cultural sector.’

Her first day at Writers Victoria is Tuesday 26 March 2024.

New Executive Producer and Deputy CEO joins Lucy Guerin Inc

Leading contemporary dance company Lucy Guerin Inc (LGI) has announced the appointment of Ally Harvey as the Melbourne-based organisation’s next Executive Producer and Deputy CEO.

Harvey is a respected figure in the arts industry, with over three decades of expertise in delivering national and international projects across various artistic disciplines, including theatre, dance, music and large-scale events. With a keen eye for detail and a penchant for innovation, she has spearheaded a diverse range of theatre projects and festivals while working with organisations including RISING and Back to Back Theatre. Harvey currently serves as the Chair of Platforming Arts, while also pursuing a Masters in Leadership.

‘I am incredibly inspired by LGI’s mission and the innovative work it produces. The Company’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of contemporary dance and its dedication to supporting emerging and established artists resonate deeply with me. I’m excited to join the team and community of artistic collaborators in creating industry pathways and presenting outstanding dance works,’ Harvey said in a statement.

Having begun her career in technical theatre with notable stints touring internationally with The Royal Shakespeare Company and Sir Peter Hall, Harvey’s career path evolved to focus on producing community-driven initiatives such as the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the XVII Commonwealth Games, and the inaugural New Year’s Eve celebrations on the London Eye. These experiences provided firsthand insight into the impact of collaborative creative practice via genuine community engagement, deeply shaping her commitment to ensuring her work resonates authentically with diverse audiences.

Lucy Guerin, Artistic Director and CEO, said: ‘We’re thrilled that Ally is joining LGI as its next Executive Producer and Deputy CEO. Her commitment to supporting artists throughout the development process, her rich history of producing work across varying scales and her passion for contemporary performance all made her a standout candidate in a competitive field. The team and I are looking forward to Ally starting in mid-April, and beginning to shape the next steps for the Company together.’

Harvey commences on Monday 15 April, following the conclusion of her contract at RISING. She fills the vacancy left by outgoing Executive Producer and Deputy CEO Brendan O’Connell, who has been with the Company since July 2020; O’Connell is joining Sydney Dance Company in April, as Director of Programming.

Footscray Community Arts farewells IT, Production and Facilities Manager

‘Where’s Daz?!’ has long been a familiar refrain at Footscray Community Arts when an issue arises involving technology, the venue or media.

For nearly 30 years, Darren Gee has been the unsung hero at Footscray Community Arts, always there to lend a hand and make the magic happen.

‘As we bid adieu to Darren, we reflect on his extraordinary contributions. A beloved member of staff, he’s been the backbone of support for both colleagues and, more importantly, the countless artists and community members fortunate enough to cross paths with him,’ said a Footscray Community Arts spokesperson.

‘From imparting wisdom to offering guidance, Darren has left an indelible mark on all who have had the privilege of working with him. The legacy Darren leaves is immeasurable; one of generosity, kindness and infinite patience. We have all been enriched by his presence.

‘Heartfelt thanks to the wonderful Darren Gee; you will be sorely missed, but forever a part of the Footscray Community Arts family,’ the statement concluded.

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