Your Safety & Wellbeing

Our people are invaluable to our success. Their skills, knowledge and expertise help provide the inspiration, vision, creativity and motivation that gives life to everything we do.

Arts Centre Melbourne prides itself on being an organisation that fully recognises, acknowledges and values the vital contribution our teams make to our success.

Our culture statement, The Role You Play, outlines our purpose, vision, priorities and values, while setting expectations we have of each other and across the team.

The Role You Play is a shared language to which we hold ourselves accountable, and is based on the values of leadership, community, caring more and creativity.

The Trust and Executive team

The Victorian Arts Centre Trust (the "Trust"), trading as "Arts Centre Melbourne", is a Victorian Government statutory authority. The Trust's core purpose is to enrich the lives of Victorians – culturally, educationally, socially and economically, making a leading contribution to the Victorian creative and visitor economies. Our Trustees are appointed by the Governor in Council on the recommendation of the Minister for the Creative Industries. The functions of the Trust are outlined in s.5(1) of the Victorian Arts Centre Act 1979.


Ian Carson AM: President

Ian Carson AM is the Chairman of Markets at PWC and the Co-founder of SecondBite. Mr Carson founded PPB Advisory; a consulting firm that merged with PWC in 2018. He was central in building this international firm with offices in Australia and Singapore and employing over 300 staff. It was engaged by Australia’s leading corporations and both Federal and State Governments as Trusted Advisers on complex financial matters, governance reviews and transactions as well as implementation of strategy and process improvement.

Co-founding SecondBite, Mr Carson and his partner Simone revolutionised food rescue in Australia, creating a new sector involving the rescue of fresh food on a national scale. They were named Melburnians of the Year in 2018, and were awarded the Order of Australia in 2017 for ‘significant service to the community through contributions and leadership in the food rescue sector, and to business.'

Mr Carson holds various board positions such a Chair of the Australian Reinsurance Pool Corporation and member of the Melbourne Cricket Ground Trust.

Frankie Airey

Frankie Airey has a long and distinguished career in development and philanthropy in both the UK and Australia commencing with a hugely successful stint in the university sector including at Oxford University and the University of London. In the 1990s, she moved to Australia and was Director of Development at Arts Centre Melbourne from 1994-1997. Over the years Frankie has established an in-depth knowledge of the philanthropic sector and a track record of achievement in senior positions and consultancy. She founded boutique consulting firm Philanthropy Squared in 2003, and she and her team have worked with more than 140 non-profit organisations, including 60 art and cultural institutions. Frankie has served on the Boards of the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne and Sadler’s Wells in London, and is currently Chair of the Betty Amsden Foundation.

Paul Barker

Paul Barker is a financial services professional with extensive experience at both board and executive level in Australia and overseas. He is the Chairman of Cricket Victoria, Melbourne Stars and Melbourne Renegades and a member of the Suburban Rail Loop Authority Advisory Board. He is the former Chairman of WorkSafe Victoria, the Transport Accident Commission, the Emergency Services Telecommunication Authority, VicForests, Mirvac Funds Management Ltd and Stadium Operations Ltd (Marvel Stadium).

Ian Roberts

Ian Roberts is the Executive Chair of the Annamila Foundation. He is also a freelance writer specialising in speeches and editing for daily press. Previously Ian has served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Harold Mitchell Foundation, General Manager of the Melbourne Festival, and General Manager of the Geelong Performing Arts Centre. Ian also spent six months as the Interim CEO of Arts Centre Melbourne in 2014.

Ian’s board appointments have included terms as Chair of the Victorian Australia Day Committee, as Deputy Chair of the Melbourne International Film Festival, and as Deputy Chair of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. Ian has also served as a member of the Major Performing Arts Board of the Australia Council for the Arts.

Helen Silver AO

Helen Silver is Chief General Manager of Allianz Australia. She has held senior positions in both the Victorian and Commonwealth public services and the private sector. Helen served as Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet in Victoria from 2008 to 2013. She is a National Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia, a Director of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and a member of the Judicial Commission of Victoria.

Leigh Johns OAM

Commissioner Leigh Johns holds a Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Laws from Monash University and a Master of Laws from the University of Melbourne. Leigh is a Fair Work Commissioner. He has previously held senior roles in private legal practice and in government as the Chief Counsel of the Fair Work Ombudsman and then appointments as the Chief Executive Officer of two independent Commonwealth Government statutory agencies.

Leigh has a long history of governance experience in the arts sector. Prior to his appointment to the Trust Leigh had been a Director of The Australian Ballet School for 17 years and its Chairman for 8 years. He is also a former long serving Board Member and President of the Midsumma Festival, Victoria’s premier LGBTQIA+ cultural festival. Between 2018-2020 Leigh was Deputy Chair of the Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School. In 2017 Leigh was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division for services to the performing arts, primary health care organisations and industrial relations.

Greta Bradman

Greta Bradman is an Australian soprano, a registered psychologist, researcher, writer, broadcaster for ABC Classic, and tech startup founder. She is a Senior Executive MBA candidate at Melbourne Business School. Greta has released four number 1 solo albums and has performed through Australia, UK, USA, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific. Named 2015 Australian Artist of the Year (Limelight Magazine), Greta is a passionate advocate for Australian classical music. Australian composers who have written for her include Peter Sculthorpe. Katy Abbott, Calvin Bowman, Ross Edwards, Anne Cawrse, amongst others.

Greta advises on people and performance, mental health and wellbeing across tech, financial and creative industries. Her approach incorporates statistical modelling and data science with her background in both the behavioural sciences and performing arts with her clinical experience. Other NFP board positions: ACM Foundation, Arts Wellbeing Collective, Australian Mental Health Prize, The Alfred Foundation.


Claire Spencer AM: Chief Executive Officer

Claire has steered the organisation through a major restructure to better position the organisation for the future and to assist with its key role as a leader in the cultural precinct and a major contributor to Victoria’s creative economy. Key projects have included: the launch of the ground-breaking Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts (Asia TOPA), delivered in collaboration with more than 30 Victorian organisations from across the cultural sector; the development of the Australian Music Vault; and the establishment of the Arts Wellbeing Collective, which promotes strong individual wellbeing for those who work in the arts sector.

Claire is leading a major redevelopment of Arts Centre Melbourne, including refurbishment of the Theatres Building and the addition of a new campus featuring workshop, studio and education spaces, an expanded Australian Music Vault gallery, and a major new gallery celebrating Australia’s performing arts history. The project is the centrepiece of a $1 billion transformation of the Melbourne Arts Precinct announced by the Victorian Government in June 2018.

Claire is a Member of Chief Executive Women – the pre-eminent organisation representing Australia’s most senior women leaders from the corporate, public service, academic and not-for-profit sectors; she is on the board of The Pinnacle Foundation, established to provide scholarships and mentoring support to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and intersex students who are marginalised or disadvantaged; and is also a member of the Australian Government’s Australia–Singapore Arts Group.

Claire is married with three children. Her outstanding contribution to the performing arts was recognised in the 2020 Australia Day honours list in which Claire was conferred a Member of the Order of Australia award.

Deirdre Blythe: Chief Operating Officer

As Chief Operating Officer, Deirdre leads our Operations team, which includes Finance, Information Technology, Infrastructure Planning and Management, Legal and Governance, Risk Management and Compliance.

Deirdre is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants with a background in commercial finance and also fulfils the role of Arts Centre Melbourne’s Chief Financial Officer. She has held senior finance roles in Melbourne and overseas, including Executive Director Finance of Alfred Health and Chief Financial Officer of BUPA Australia and BUPA International.

Deirdre is also a Director of Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Leanne Lawrence: Executive Director, Human Resources

Leanne leads our Human Resources team and supports the delivery of Arts Centre Melbourne’s strategic goals through workforce planning, industrial and employee relations, change management, succession planning, professional development and talent management, wellbeing, diversity and HR operations.

Leanne has held senior roles in federal and state government agencies including the Fair Work Commission and the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Victoria. Leanne joined Arts Centre Melbourne after working at Benetas, one of Victoria’s leading not-for-profit providers of aged care and retirement living. Leanne also has a broader interest in governance and community and is seeking to continue to support the not-for-profit sector after recently retiring from her volunteer role after 7 years as Committee Member and President of an education and support services organisation.

Fiona Poletti: Executive Director, Strategy, Advocacy and Partnerships

Fiona leads the Strategy, Advocacy and Partnerships Business Unit designed to enable and support Arts Centre Melbourne’s organisational transformation, strategic priority delivery and revenue generation as we adapt to a dynamic internal and an uncertain external environment resulting from the impact of COVID-19.

Fiona has had an extensive and rewarding career working in leadership roles in government and the not for profit sector with a focus on shaping and delivering impactful initiatives and strategic projects through advocacy, policy and partnerships. From her current role as Executive Director of Strategy, Advocacy and Partnerships at Arts Centre Melbourne to her early career as a senior Federal Ministerial Adviser for Arts and Broadcasting policy, Fiona has been in roles enabling her to shape policy and navigate complex stakeholder challenges and opportunities across government, business, tertiary and not-for-profit sectors.

As a passionate advocate for the creative industries sector, Fiona has been fortunate to have pursued this ambition through her career choices including holding senior management and advisory positions at the Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian Embassy in Tokyo, Circus Oz and for the last five years at Arts Centre Melbourne.

Melanie Smith: Executive Director, Performing Arts

Melanie leads the Programming, Presenter Services, Production, Collections and Asian Arts teams to develop and deliver the Performing Arts Strategy and Business Plan. Melanie is dedicated to ensuring a breadth of events and programs: form part of our programming portfolio; support industry partnerships and the small to medium and independent sectors; engage with young people; offer creative learning experiences for students and families; inspire community participation; and develop Arts Centre Melbourne audiences into the future.

Melanie was previously the Deputy Director and Head of Programming for Auckland Live, New Zealand’s largest performing arts centre. Melanie is also an Executive Councillor on the Live Performance Australia Executive Council, the national peak body formed to ensure the long term sustainability of the Australian live performance industry.

Beau Vigushin: Executive Director, Customer Experience

Beau leads the customer-focused areas, including Customer Service, Ticketing, Marketing, Car Park, Front-of-House, Food and Beverage, and Strategic Communications teams.

Beau started with Arts Centre Melbourne as a casual usher in early 2002 and through years of learning and leadership growth joined the Executive team in April 2018. Beau has previously been a Board Member with Arts Access Victoria and worked on customer transformation projects with Melbourne Recital Centre from 2010–14. Beau also worked with the Mushroom Group from 2008–18 leading event-day audience experience for A Day on the Green in Victoria and worked on the team that started the iconic Hanging Rock concert venue.

Beau is passionate about Arts Centre Melbourne being a place for everyone and creating unique experiences and memories for our community.

Richard Zimmermann: Executive Director, Philanthropy

Richard leads our Philanthropy team and is responsible for growing philanthropic support for Art Centre Melbourne’s access, education, commissions, collections and wellbeing programs, all of which are enabled through the generosity of donors.

With a strong background in film and performing arts, Richard’s first foray into not-for-profit fundraising occurred when, as Director of Management Enterprises Ltd, an entrepreneurial arts marketing company he co-founded in New Zealand, he mounted a successful fundraising charity rock concert called “Rain Aid”, with all proceeds going to provide relief for flood victims.

Since moving to Melbourne in 1990 Richard has continued to work extensively in marketing and fundraising for the film, arts and health sectors. He has headed up successful philanthropy programs at The Australian Film Institute, The Australian Ballet School, Jewish Care, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), Bush Heritage Australia and the Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Richard is a longstanding member of the Fundraising Institute Australia and, outside of his professional work, is actively involved in supporting arts, philanthropy and education. Since 2006 he has been the Chairman of not-for-profit arts company Tashmadada, which aims to support, nurture and engage in contemporary performing arts practices.

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