Arts for All Appeal

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.

TRUSTEES

Ian Carson AM: President

Ian Carson AM is the Executive Chair of Tanarra Restructuring Partners (TRP). TRP rescues companies affected by external events. It seeks to save businesses and jobs and invests 10 per cent of profits in social entrepreneurs.

Previously, Ian was Chairman of Markets at PWC and the Co-founder of SecondBite. Mr Carson founded Carson McLellan, becoming PPB Advisory; a consulting firm that merged with PWC in 2018.

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 as 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.

Professor Kerry Arabena

A descendant of the Meriam people from the Torres Strait, Kerry’s work has brought her to the forefront of Indigenous affairs in Australia. A former social worker with a Doctorate in Environmental Science, Kerry has held senior positions including Chair of Indigenous Health at the University of Melbourne, Executive Director of First 1000 Days Australia, CEO of the Lowitja Institute and Director of Indigenous Health Research at Monash University. Internationally, Kerry has held senior positions with Ecohealth International, consulted for the World Health Organisation, is a current Scientific Commissioner on the Lancet Pathfinder project and completed a Fellows program with the Rockefeller Foundation.

With an extensive background in public health, administration, community development and research, Kerry has led a wide range of organisations and committees. Currently a Director of Kinaway Chamber of Commerce and IgNITE, Kerry holds an honorary professorial position with the University of Melbourne, manages her burgeoning consulting, publishing and coaching companies and has several entrepreneurial programs in development.

Paul Barker

Paul Barker is a financial services professional with extensive experience at both board and executive level in Australia and overseas. He is currently a Director of Fed Square Pty Ltd and is a member of the Suburban Rail Loop Authority Advisory Board and Interim Melbourne Arts Precinct 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) and the former Chairman of Cricket Victoria, Melbourne Stars and Melbourne Renegades.

Greta Bradman

Greta Bradman is an Australian soprano and recording artist, registered psychologist, ABC broadcaster, speaker, writer, investor and philanthropist. As a professional solo singer, Greta released four no.1 albums and toured nationally and internationally through USA, UK, EU, and the Asia Pacific. She champions works by Australian composers and female composers. As a psychologist (MAPS,MPsych(clin)), Greta works in clinical practice and (i) has campaigned to support the mental health and wellbeing of Australian performing arts workers; (ii) campaigns for preventative, evidence-based population level measures that support mental health and wellbeing of Australians; (iii) researches the link between individual/firm performance and mental wellbeing, and the flow-through to economic and social outcomes. As an ABC Classic broadcaster, Greta presents “Weekend Brunch” and created the “Music for Wellbeing” series. Greta completes her senior executive MBA at Melbourne Business School in Oct 2021. Other governance work: Arts Centre Melbourne Audit Committee, Foundation & Arts Wellbeing Collective boards, Alfred Foundation, Australian Mental Health Prize.

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.

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 Allianz Australia’s Deputy Managing Director with responsibilities for leading strategic projects and providing advice to the Managing Director, Allianz Australia Board and the Allianz worldwide Group. Helen is a member of the Allianz Executive Board.

Prior to joining Allianz Australia, Helen had spent more than 30 years in executive roles in the Victoria and Commonwealth public sectors, culminating in 2008 as Head of the Victorian Public Service in the position of Secretary to the Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Helen was a respected negotiator at the highest levels of government and played a key role in a number of Commonwealth and State reform initiatives as well as leading the administration and development of the Victorian Public sector.

Helen has taken a lead role in promoting and advocating for gender equality and diversity both within Allianz and in the community; she has a deep interest in public policy and the Arts. In 2015 Helen was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for distinguished service to public administration, business and commerce and the Victorian community.

Helen has a Bachelor of Economics (Hons) and a Master of Economics from Monash University. She is a National Fellow of the Institute of Public Administration Australia and a Distinguished Fellow of ANZSoG.

Helen also serves on a number of boards including: Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the Victorian Arts Centre Trust and the Judicial Commission of Victoria.

Kee Wong

Kee Wong is an entrepreneur, investor, advisor and Non-Executive Director with a background and qualifications in Engineering, Information technology and Business. Since 1999, Kee has started several businesses and has made investments across a number of industries which include technology, services, retail, food and beverage, trading and property.

Prior to being an entrepreneur, Kee practiced as an engineer after graduating from Monash University in 1985, Kee then joined a number of IT and management consulting firms and practiced as an IT/Management consultant for a number of years. Kee joined IBM (a global IT company) in 1994 as a senior executive running part of its e-business group in the Asia Pacific region, including Australia and New Zealand.

In 1999, Kee founded his first business, e-Centric Innovations – an IT/Management consulting firm that is still operating successfully in Australia, Malaysia and Singapore, serving large multinational enterprises and governments. Since then, Kee has started (and invested in) a number of other businesses and today continues to invest in startup as well as established businesses globally (Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, China and US – in Silicon Valley).

In addition to running and investing in businesses, Kee also sits on a number of Boards. Kee is a Board member of Carsales.com, an ASX100 company listed on the Australian stock exchange. Kee is also a Board member for the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), the Committee for Melbourne, the Victorian Arts Centre Trust and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI). He is also a member of the Victorian Government Ministerial Advisory Council on International Education and Victorian Government Ministerial Innovation Taskforce. Recently, Kee has also joined the VicTrack Strategic Innovation Advisory Group, Transform Reform Board (Victorian Department of Transport), ANU Centre for Asian-Australian Leadership Advisory Board, Swinburne University’s Technology and Innovation Committee.

As advisor to a Victorian government entity, Kee has helped develop an R&D venture (in Fibre Optics IoT sensors and AI) between the Victorian government entity and the Palo Alto Research Centre (PARC - a Xerox R&D company) that resulted in a new global joint venture company (Eloque LLC) being established between the Victorian Government and Xerox to service the global market.

Previously, Kee was also Chairman of the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), a Deputy Chairman of Asialink, a Council Member of Victoria University, a Director of LaunchVic (a Victorian Government Innovation/Startup fund), the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO), Australian Services Roundtable (ASR), Federation Square, Foundation of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) and a member of the Metro Trains Melbourne Strategic Advisory Committee. Kee is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and Adjunct Professor of Engineering and IT at La Trobe University. Kee was awarded a Fellow of Monash University in 2010 and Distinguished Alumni in 2014.

Kee has a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons.), a Graduate Diploma in Computing and an MBA.

EXECUTIVE TEAM

Leanne Lawrence: Interim CEO

Leanne leads our People 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 seven years as Committee Member and President of an education and support services organisation.

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.

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 creative content areas, including Programming, Presenter Services, Production, Collections and Asian Arts teams.

She is responsible for the development and delivery of 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. She is 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, Equity & Inclusion and Customer Experience

Beau leads our Equity & Inclusion work and the end-to-end experience for customers with a focus on engagement, innovation, service and communications.

Beau has always had a strong connection to the land surrounding the Birrarung, now known as Southbank. Born at the old Prince Henry hospital on St Kilda Road, being in the precinct was always his happy place as a child and he also was a Southbank resident from 2008 – 2021.

Beau started with Arts Centre Melbourne as a casual usher in 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 is currently a board member with Tessitura Network – a global arts and cultural technology organisation.

Beau has 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 in 2011.

Beau is passionate about the Melbourne Arts Precinct being a welcoming and enriching place that represents the diversity of our state. Beau strives to create unique experiences and strong happy memories for people when they gather in our place and connect with the performing arts.

Richard Zimmermann: Executive Director, Philanthropy

Richard leads our Philanthropy team and is responsible for growing philanthropic support for Arts 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, music and the 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 (Arts Centre Melbourne), 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.

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