Industry panellists appointed to guide National Cultural Policy

Artists and arts leaders from almost every state and territory have been appointed by Minister for the Arts Tony Burke MP to advise on the policy’s development.

Theatre and festival director Wesley Enoch AM, Arts Access Victoria CEO Caroline Bowditch, award-winning filmmaker Khoa Do, and soprano and composer Deborah Cheetham AO are among the members of five expert panels appointed to help guide the development of the Albanese Labor Government’s landmark National Cultural Policy.

In total, 15 industry professionals from across a range of artforms have been selected for the five panels, though notably, no Tasmanian representatives are included among their number.

Nor do any of the panellists represent technical/production crews, which have been especially hard-hit by the pandemic.

Representatives of arts education and the youth arts sector are also notable by their absence.

Minister for the Arts Tony Burke MP said the panellists will help identify key issues and themes raised through the National Cultural Policy’s public consultation process, and help craft what will be a comprehensive roadmap for Australia’s arts and culture sectors for the decades ahead.

‘A National Cultural Policy should draw on as many voices as possible,’ Burke said.

‘That’s why I’m asking every Australian who cares about arts and culture to make a submission. And it’s why I’m drawing on the expertise of these diverse creative sector professionals to help me drive this.

‘Together, we can bring new direction and vision to a critical sector that does so much to enrich Australians’ lives,’ he said.

Read: Writing your National Cultural Policy submission

Each panel will focus on one of the five pillars of the new cultural policy:

  • First Nations first: recognising and respecting the crucial place of these stories at the centre of our arts and culture.
  • A place for every story: reflecting the diversity of our stories and the contribution of all Australians as the creators of culture.
  • The centrality of the artist: supporting the artist as worker and celebrating their role as the creators of culture.
  • Strong institutions: providing support across the spectrum of institutions – funded, philanthropic and commercial – which sustain our arts and culture.
  • Reaching the audience: ensuring our stories reach the people at home and abroad.

The members of the panels are:

Panel 1: First Nations

Mr Wesley Enoch AM (NSW) is a Quandamooka man from Minjerribah (Stradbroke Island), an internationally acclaimed playwright and artistic director and current Indigenous Chair of Creative Industries at Queensland University of Technology.

Ms Rachael Maza AM (VIC) is a Yidinji and Meriam woman who is the Artistic Director of Ilbijerri Theatre Company, and an accomplished actress and director.

Ms Claire Coleman (VIC) is a Noongar woman who writes fiction, essays, poetry and art criticism. Her debut novel Terra Nullius won the Norma K Hemming Award in 2018.

Panel 2: A place for every story

Ms Caroline Bowditch (VIC) is Chief Executive Officer and Artistic Director of Arts Access Victoria. She is an accomplished international performer and choreographer with a commitment to cultural equity.

Professor Deborah Cheetham AO (VIC), Yorta Yorta woman, soprano, composer and Artistic Director of Short Black Opera, has been a leader and pioneer in the Australian arts landscape for more than 30 years.

Mr Khoa Do (SA) is an award-winning film director and screenwriter who has worked across the spectrum of film, television and community theatre. His films have won awards at various festivals worldwide.

Panel 3: The centrality of the artist

Mr Matthew Chesher (NSW) is Director of Legal and Policy for the Media, Entertainment and the Arts Alliance, the largest union of Australian creative professionals.

Mr Michael Hohnen (NT) is an ARIA-winning musician and producer, and co-founder of the local music label Skinnyfish Music.

Ms Deena Lynch (QLD) is a singer-songwriter, musician, photographer, visual artist, director and designer, best known by her stage name Jaguar Jonze.

Panel 4: Strong institutions

Ms Kerri Glasscock (NSW) is Festival Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Sydney Fringe Festival, and is a founding Board Member and Deputy Chair of the Night Time Industries Association.

Ms Karen Quinlan AM (ACT) is the Director of the National Portrait Gallery of Australia, and was previously the Director of Bendigo Art Gallery and a curatorial assistant at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Mr Kim Walker (NSW) is the Chief Executive Officer of (NAISDA) Dance College, Australia’s foremost training Institute for First Nations students and a former principal dancer of the Sydney Dance Company and Artistic Director of the Flying Fruit Fly Circus.

Panel 5: Reaching the audience

Ms Kate Ben-Tovim (WA) has over 20 years’ experience in the cultural sector and has lived and worked in Indonesia, India, PNG, China, UK and across Australia.  She has produced a number of large-scale music productions for festivals that have received Helpmann and Deadly Awards.

Mr Fintan Magee (QLD) is a Sydney based social realist painter, specializing in large-scale murals.

Mr Emile Sherman (NSW) is a television and film producer, best known for producing the feature films Lion and The King’s Speech (which won the 2010 Academy Award for Best Picture).

Burke has previously promised that the new National Cultural Policy – which will draw on the previous Creative Australia policy launched under Prime Minister Julia Gillard – will be delivered by the end of the year.

Learn more about making a public submission to the National Cultural Policy. Submissions close on 22 August.

Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts