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On the move: the latest appointments and resignations

Visual Arts Writer

Curators appointed to Parrtjima and Edinburgh Festival, a new Chair for AFTRS and a Festival Director steps down after five years.
On the move: the latest appointments and resignations

Photo Jake Hills; Image cc va

The House gets a new Executive Director of Performing Arts

The Sydney Opera House announced today the appointment of Kate Dundas as Executive Director of Performing Arts.

A former Director of ABC Radio and Deputy Secretary NSW Government Arts & Culture - where sheshe oversaw the policy and funding arms of Arts NSW and Screen NSW and the government coordination of key cultural institutions including the Sydney Opera House, Art Gallery of NSW, Australia Museum and the State Library. She is also a Vincent Fairfax Fellow and Member of the Council of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School,


Dundas led ABC Radio to unprecedented success through a period of great change, managing the complexities of segmenting audiences, multiple platforms and diverse content in a fast-shifting digital environment, including developing and implementing the strategy for the public broadcaster’s expansion into digital radio and streaming. By the time she left in 2014, ABC Radio audiences were the highest on record.

Dundas is a passionate advocate for the centrality of culture to Australian life and society, and at the Opera House will be responsible for developing and implementing an integrated artistic vision on-stage, on-site and online.

CEO of the Opera House Louise Herron said:  'On Saturday, we closed our busiest venue, the Joan Sutherland Theatre, for seven months to begin the first major project in $273 million-worth of building works ... Renewal is all about ensuring it continues to live up to the expectations of 21st century artists and audiences. The Opera House will remain open throughout the works and it is critical that the art we showcase is as bold and inspiring as the building itself. Kate is the perfect person to ensure that we meet that exciting challenge.'

Dundas will commence in July 2017.

Melbourne Writers Festival Director moves on

Lisa Dempster, Festival Director/CEO of Melbourne Writers Festival (MWF), has announced she will step down from the role in September after the conclusion of the 2017 festival - her fifth and final festival.

Prior to joining MWF, Dempster was the director/CEO of the Emerging Writers’ Festival (2010–2012), and founder of its innovative online programming arm, EWFdigital. She also helped present the Melbourne leg of the Jaipur Literature Festival in Melbourne as part of the inaugural Asia TOPA earlier this year.

The MWF board is seeking a new Artistic Director to replace Dempster; view the job listing here.

New Head of Talks & Ideas at SOH

The Sydney Opera House today announced that respected producer, director and curator Edwina Throsby will join its artistic leadership team in the role of Head of Talks & Ideas.

The former Head of Curation of TEDxSydney, Throsby has dedicated her 20-year career to bringing complex topics and stories to the broadest possible audience across platforms and media. In her three years overseeing the artistic and creative vision for TEDxSydney, the ideas festival grew to almost 130,000 attendees, millions of online views and more than 150 satellite events.

Prior to TEDxSydney, she founded and produced the ABC’s flagship multi-platform ideas program, Big Ideas, hosted by Tony Jones, which quickly expanded from ABC2 to the main ABC network and ABC News 24.

Throsby has worked as a documentary filmmaker, garnering the Best Documentary award at Flickerfest (2008) and Best Documentary Short award at Melbourne International Film Festival (2008) for Dance Like Your Old Man. She has also worked on esteemed news and current affairs programs, including Four Corners, Media Watch and Q&A.

Edwina recently completed her PhD in political science, writing her thesis on undecided voters in Australia.

AFTRS Council Chair appointment

The Turnbull Government has appointed Russel Howcroft as Chair of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) Council for a period of three years.

Howcroft has extensive experience in the screen industry. He was the Executive General Manager of Network Ten and has served on a number of boards and foundations which focus on arts and film, including the Australian Film Institute and the Screen Forever Advisory Board. 

He is currently the inaugural Chief Creative Officer at PwC Australia. He has also served as the Chairman of the Advertising Federation of Australia and Chief Executive Officer of leading advertising agency George Patterson Y&R and been a regular panellist on The Gruen Transfer.

In 2016, Mr Howcroft was the founding Chair of Think TV, a collaborative initiative between Australian free-to-air and subscription television broadcasters to promote television’s scale and effectiveness for advertisers across all screens.

He will commence on 1 July 2017.

Curator appointed to Parrtjima

Rhoda Roberts AO has been appointed curator of the second annual Parrtjima – A Festival in Light in Alice Springs.

Roberts is currently Head of First Nations Programming at Sydney Opera House, Festival Director of Boomerang at Bluesfest and was Creative Director of the Vivid Sydney Opera House Sails Projection in 2016.

She has a high-profile nationally and internationally as an Indigenous creative director, writer, producer, and is a member of the Bundjalung nation, Widjabul clan of Northern New South Wales and South East Queensland.

Andrew Hopper, General Manager of Northern Territory Major Events Company, said Roberts will work closely with the Parrtjima Festival Reference Group, AGB Events, local Aboriginal artists and 40 art centres from across the desert region to develop the narrative for the 10-day event that celebrates the magnificent Aboriginal art of Central Australia.

‘Her extraordinary depth of knowledge, breadth of experience and understanding of the consultative process will be invaluable as we build meaningful connections with local artists to create a breathtaking outdoor exhibition of Aboriginal art,’ said Hopper.

Roberts has previously worked on Territory arts events including Garma Festival and Darwin Festival.

She commented: ‘I have been involved with many communities in the Territory and my family has strong ties with North East Arnhem Land …I’m delighted to be returning to Alice Springs for Parrtjima, which will be a magnificent celebration of our central desert artists, who are renowned for their vibrant use of colour.’

Parrjima will be held 22 September – 1 October and is a free event. The program will be announced mid year.

Australian Curator heads to Edinburgh Festival

Australian festival curator, writer and cultural diplomat Dr. Xenia Hanusiak has been appointed a 2017 - 2018 Global Cultural Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, Institute for International Cultural Relations.

The position recognises leaders who have made significant contributions to cultural relations across the globe. Hanusiak is the Australian representative. 

Each year the Global Cultural Fellows explore a specific theme.  For 2017-18, it is “Exploring Cultural Interests and Values”.  The 70th Anniversary of the birth of the festival city of Edinburgh offers an important opportunity to explore the cultural values that created one of the biggest annual cultural interactions in human history. 

She said of the appointment: ‘I have been dedicated to the exchange of ideas and international relations through arts and culture for over 15 years of my curatorial, performing and writing career. I believe that cultural narratives promote not simply a greater understanding of the arts but an important cognition of a nation’s values and ways of thinking.’

As an opera singer, writer, cultural commentator, curator and diplomat Hanusiak has been described as a ‘High Priestess Harmony’.

She holds a PhD in Literature, two degrees in classical music, and a Bachelor of Arts degree (Theatre, Literature), and her writings have appeared in The Age, The Australian, ABC, South China Post, Sydney Morning Herald, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, among other publications.

Most recently she was Manager of Cultural Relations for the Australian Consulate-General (New York). Her 2017 schedule takes her to the Orpheus Institute (Belgium), the Non-fictionNOW conference  (Iceland), and will take up an awarded Hambidge Residency in the United States. 

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