The peak body protecting and promoting the Australian visual arts sector

Wired In: January 2015

Find out who's coming and going in the arts for January 2015.


Malasian born Adeline Ooi has replaced Magnus Renfrew as Director Asia for Art Basel, leading the development of Art Basel's Hong Kong show. Previously she was Art Basel's VIP Relations Manager for Southeast Asia. She was also founder and director of RogueArt based in Malaysia.


Congratulations to Emily Sandrussi on winning the 2014 John Coburn Emerging Artist Award. Emily was awarded the prize for her photographic work, Domino Theory 7. The $5,000 award, which comes under the auspices of the Blake Prize, was judged by Artspace Director, Alexie Glass-Kantor, Anne Ferran, artist, and Dr Alex Norman, University of Sydney lecturer in Studies in Religion. The judges commended Sandrussi's work for its spiritual eloquence.

​In Governments

The new Victorian Labor Government has no arts minister per se but instead has appointed long-time spokesperson for the Arts Martin Foley, as Minister for Creative Industries. It is expected that his new department, rebranded as Creative Victoria, will move into the Department of Premier and Cabinet and bring together cultural agencies like Arts Victoria, Film Victoria and Design Victoria. Foley has indicated it will have strong links with health, education and community services departments, “integrating creativity into all areas of public policy". Foley has promised a new arts and cultural strategy to sit alongside a creative industries policy.

​In Galleries

Property developer and philanthropist Michael Buxton has announced he will donate his major collection of more than 300 works by 53 Australian contemporary artists to form the Michael Buxton Centre of Contemporary Art (MBCOCA), a new contemporary art museum to open in 2017 in Melbourne's arts precinct. He also will donate more than $10 million to fund the purpose-built gallery to be housed in Southbank as part of the University of Melbourne, along with the Faculty of the Victorian College of the Arts & Melbourne Conservatorium of Music.

Public Galleries Association of Victoria (PGAV) is conducting a survey about whether there is a need for a national advocacy body for public galleries. They envisage that a national body would work in partnership with existing gallery-based membership bodies across Australia to deliver better outcomes for the public gallery sector nationally.

The WA gallery scene continues to be volatile. At the end of 2014, owner Desi Litis of Perth's Venn Gallery announced it had closed its Queen Street premises. When Venn opened in 2010 it was co-owned by Litis and Jade Rubino but Rubino sold her share earlier in 2014 and the shop and café which had formed part of the enterprise interests to restauranteur Andy Freeman. Litis will continue to promote artists as an independent curator on a consultancy basis. Gallery manager Bayoush Demissie has taken up a position with a Brisbane gallery.

Other Perth galleries are finding new ways to survive. Emerge Art Space recently moved further north to Inglewood, with Seva Frangos Art in Subiaco and Gadfly Gallery in Dalkeith also changed location and their operational structure. Harvison Gallery in Northbridge recently converted the front half of its premises into a cafe.

Firstdraft in Sydney has announced that Andrew Brooks, Anna McMahon, Spence Messih and Gina Mobayad will be joining their Board of Directors. They join Kate Britton, Elliott Bryce Foulkes, Jane Gillespie and Tulleah Pearce.

​In Organisations

The Biennale of Sydney has appointed Ben Strout as its new CEO. Prior to this he was Executive Director of Sydney Writers' Festival (2009–2014). Before that he worked as Executive Director of Arts Development at the Australia Council for the Arts (2000–2009) and had dealings with the first three national Books Alive campaigns, the Contemporary Visual Arts and Craft Inquiry, the Cultural Ministers Council Small to Medium Performing Arts Examination, and served on the Playing Australia National Touring Committee and Asialink Performance/Arts Management Committee.

In February, Katrina Sedgwick, will take up the position of CEO and director of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne. Sedgwich moves from being head of arts at ABC Television, previously having served for nine years as foundation director and CEO of the biennial Adelaide Film Festival. Katrina succeeds Tony Sweeney, whose time at the helm over the past 10 years established ACMI's international profile and drove visitor numbers to a record 1.3 million in 2013-14.

Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) has appointed Janina Harding as its new Artistic Director. Ms Harding has had 30 years of experience in the arts and education sectors including as Indigenous Arts Program Manager for City of Melbourne since 2001, Creative Producer of Melbourne Indigenous Arts Festival and Blak Nite Cinema, and serving two terms on the Australia Council's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board.

At the Association of Northern, Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists in Darwin several staff are leaving. Vanessa Kredler, Manager Operations Delivery is moving on after two years, David Mackenzie, Resource and Development Officer will not return from paternity leave and is moving to Melbourne and Guy Hancock, Acting Resource and Development Officer will be heading back home to Cairns.

The Copyright Agency has announced the appointment of Kim Williams AM to its board replacing Brian Johns who retires after 13 years as board member and Chair of the Cultural Fund. Williams has held various executive leadership positions since the late 1970s in the arts, entertainment and media industries here and overseas. Williams also has held numerous board positions and chairmanships in commercial and public life over more than three decades and been the recipients of major awards.

Stefanie Vianello has taken over from Maz McGann as General Manager of Creating Australia, the recently formed Sydney based national organisation providing support and leadership for the Community Arts and Cultural Development (CACD) sector.

Heather Croall will be the new director for the Adelaide Fringe Festival, taking up a three-year appointment from 2016-18. Heather returns from the UK, having run the Sheffield International Documentary Festival for the past decade.

Multi-art form Brisbane based organisation, Metro Arts has appointed Dr David Fenton as its new CEO replacing Liz Burcham. Fenton's previous experience is primarily in the performing arts including holding positions as Head of Performance Practices at the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Manager of Arts and Culture at the Sydney Olympic Park Authority, Festival Director of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival and theatre director at the Bell Shakespeare Company.

In Academe

Associate Professor Derrick Cherrie will take up the position of Director, Queensland College of Art at Griffith University in April 2015. He replaces Professor Paul Cleveland.

Cherrie is currently the Head of the Elam School of Fine Arts within the University of Auckland's National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries (NICAI), which is highly regarded in New Zealand.


NAVA extends its condolences to the family and friends of the following arts luminaries.

Joy Warren OAM who established and ran Solander Gallery for forty years, has died aged 92. Solander was Canberra's first commercial gallery and set the scene for development of art venues in the city. Warren fostered the careers of some of Australia's most important artists, also holding exhibitions of Aboriginal and Papua New Guinean art as well as the art of many other countries around the world to which she had travelled. Previously an actress for 15-years with Canberra Repertory Society, she also ran her own public relations business, Joy Warren Promotions.

Former Perth arts festival director David Blenkinsop AM has died aged 77. Mr Blenkinsop was appointed director of the Perth Festival in 1976 and was in the role for 23 years, becoming the festival's longest-serving director. He transformed the previous Festival of Perth into an internationally respected annual multi-arts festival, Born in Leeds, Yorkshire, Blenkinsop worked as a BBC reporter and a concert manager before migrating to WA in 1976 with his family.