They’re among the city’s oldest buildings, and they’re thriving hubs for the arts, housing dozens of artists and arts organisations. Now the Ainslie & Gorman Arts Centres are also pioneering a new governance model for the city’s arts facilities.
Formerly the Gorman House Arts Centre Inc, the new company and registered charity is called Arts Capital and has appointed four new directors to its board. They are Sheridan Burnett, Morwenna Collett, Elizabeth Harris and Dr Jodie Trembath.
Sheridan Burnett is Exhibitions Manager at the National Portrait Gallery with strong involvement in the ACT arts sector, and a qualified lawyer with experience in corporate, regulatory and governance roles.
Morwenna Collett is a musician and arts consultant with a disability, specialising in diversity, access and inclusion, who has previously held leadership roles at Accessible Arts and the Australia Council.
Elizabeth Harris is a lawyer at Minter Ellison and an Art History graduate who also volunteers for Agora Art, a London-based social enterprise supporting digital art.
Dr Jodie Trembath is an arts and cultural policy researcher who works at the independent think tank A New Approach, and an anthropologist and communications specialist with extensive stakeholder engagement experience.
The chair of Arts Capital, Mark Van Veen, said that the governance change was intended to strengthen the organisation’s role as a leader in managing arts and cultural precincts. He welcomed the new directors, who together with the existing board members – Mark Van Veen, Suzie Campbell, Tim Langford, John MacCulloch and Eric Martin – will steer the organisation through an important period of strategic planning and stakeholder engagement.
The board will also oversee centenary renovation plans for Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres, the two heritage-listed ACT Government arts facilities managed by Arts Capital, including an $8 million commitment to renovate Gorman Arts Centre by 2024.
In recent years, Ainslie & Gorman has grown its earned income from $600,000 per annum to $1.6 million and now brings 200,000 people through the doors each year. Staff have increased from just two to 15, with an additional 15 casuals.
CEO Joseph Falsone has argued that an arts and creative knowledge-led recovery requires a commitment to excellence across the board at Canberra’s arts facilities.
“Canberra should hold our cultural sector to a very high standard, not see ourselves at a town council level,” he told Region Media.
“We have to challenge ourselves right through from the community participation level to excellence at all our arts facilities.
“These are serious businesses that match any private sector operation. We are building an audience for professional artists in this community, so let’s give ourselves a bigger, bolder vision and hold ourselves to account.”
Mr Falsone said the expanded board “will lead the development of a new shared vision at a critical time for the arts. With major renovation commitments and the start of a new planning cycle, Arts Capital inherits a rare opportunity to reinvent places and programs or the benefit of the arts sector and community”.