New Arts Committee brings expertise to Council

Published on 20 June 2017


Artists, writers and gallery owners are just some of the experts on Council's new Arts Advisory Committee.

The new Committee will hold their first meeting this month where they will start the job of advising and providing governance to Council on the purchase of any new art acquisitions; act as the reference group for the development of the Arts and Cultural Plan 2018-2022 and advise on its implementation once it's completed.

Nillumbik Shire Mayor, Councillor Peter Clarke said the new Arts Advisory Committee will provide a cross-sectional representation of local arts and culture practices.

"We're very fortunate to have attracted such a wide variety of experts involved in all forms of art. Together, they will be able to provide a depth of knowledge, industry and community experience that will enhance and promote the arts within Nillumbik.

"We're proud to support the longstanding artistic and cultural heritage that makes Nillumbik the uniquely creative place it is today."

Councillor Karen Egan, Chair of the Arts Advisory Committee said, "The Committee represents a diverse range of arts and cultural expertise, with a spread of members representing the three discipline areas as defined by the National Arts and Culture Accord; arts, creative industries and cultural heritage. 

"We endorsed the nomination of:

  • Matt Blackwood,
  • Brian Gilkes,
  • Eugene Howard,
  • Ute Leiner,
  • Julie Tipene-O’Toole,
  • Michael Wilson and
  • Blaise van Hecke. 

"We're thrilled to have them on board and I look forward to enhancing and promoting the Arts over the next few years."

Committee Members

Matt Blackwood is a writer and artist whose work has been commissioned in public spaces and galleries across Australia and overseas. He is passionate about further activating Melbourne’s UNESCO City of Literature status, and is a member of the Alan Marshall Short Story Award readers group, a funding assessor for Creative Victoria and an Australia Council peer.

Brian Gilkes is well known to the local visual arts community with his fine printmaking as Director of The Pharos Centre, St Andrews.  Dr Gilkes has a PhD in Visual Communication and has lectured at RMIT, Melbourne University and Photography Studies College.

Eugene Howard is a practising artist and former Laughing Waters artist in resident. Eugene has worked on residency programs internationally including in Japan and with the Kochi AIR program in partnership with the Kochi-Muziriz Biennale, India. Eugene has most recently worked with the Ian Potter Museum of Art and was awarded the Warrandyte Youth Arts Award by the Arts and Education Trust (2016-17) for sustaining a significant practice and contributing to the area. Eugene will be co-producing an ambitious community-oriented residency project in rural Victoria supported by Creative Victoria.

Ute Leiner is an Art teacher at Eltham High School. She has worked as a research cluster coordinator at RMIT School of Art 'Art in Public Space' where she managed public art projects in collaboration with the City of Melbourne and the City of Greater Dandenong. Ute was a member of the former Arts Advisory Committee and has a sound knowledge of the Nillumbik Shire Art Collection.

Julie Tipene-O'Toole brings much policy and planning experience most recently as the Corporate Planning Coordinator of Moonee Valley City Council and the former CEO of Kultour, a national arts organisation working to advance cultural diversity in the arts.  On a local level, Julie is a visual artist and former volunteer tutor at Living & learning Nillumbik, and Young Achievers Australia mentor for Eltham College students. 

Michael Wilson is a longstanding gallery owner, company director and artist.  Michael has been actively involved in the arts community as an Artist Open Studios committee member, Nillumbik Tourism Association committee, Craft Council of Victoria committee, Gold & Silversmiths Guild of Australia. 

Blaise van Hecke is the owner of local Busybird Publishing and previously the Reading & Literacy Coordinator with Yarra Plenty Regional Library.  Blaise is actively involved in the literary arts community through writing festivals, and other literary activities, especially through the Wheeler Centre, The State Library and Writers Victoria and is the President of the Society of Women Writers Victoria Inc.


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