Meet our 2023 team
Meet the curatorial team bringing Perth Festival 2023 to life!
In anticipation of our program launching very soon, let us introduce (and reintroduce) you to some of the brilliant minds the people putting it together.
Our curatorial team draws on experience from across the globe. Led by Iain Grandage, they are all so excited to bring you a carefully curated program featuring national, local and once again international talent.
'We're excited to welcome national and international artists in 2023. It's about finding new and beautiful ways of connecting them to local artists here so we can continue to celebrate arts both from this place, and from the world.' Iain Grandage
Of course it takes many talented people to bring our Festival together. Check out all our wonderful staff who help make it happen.
Image cr. Jess Wyld
Iain Grandage – Artistic Director
Iain leads the Festival as Artistic Director until 2024. He’s been celebrated for bringing a sweeping sense of place to the Festivals he has curated, with a strong commitment to Noongar artists and stories standing alongside events of scale like Highway to Hell.
He is one of Australia’s most highly regarded collaborative artists, having won Helpmann Awards for his compositions for Theatre (Cloudstreet, Secret River), for Dance (When Time Stops), for Opera - with Kate Miller-Heidke (The Rabbits), for silent film – with Rahayu Suppangah (Satan Jawa) and as a music director for Meow Meow’s Little Match Girl and Secret River.
He has been music director for large scale events for Perth, Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide Festivals over the last two decades, has an extensive track record of collaboration with indigenous artists across the country, and has an honorary Doctorate from UWA.
Image cr. Jess Wyld
Rachael Whitworth – Head of Programming
Rachael joined Perth Festival as Head of Programming in 2021 after 10 years at Performing Lines WA as a producer and senior producer. She spearheaded Performing Lines WA’s Kolyang Creative Hub initiative to support independent and culturally diverse artists, and led her team to premiere four new Western Australian works in the 2021 Festival – Black Brass, Children of the Sea, Galup and Slow Burn, Together – all of which were central to the success of the home-grown 2021 Festival program.
Trained at Victorian College of the Arts, Rachael began her professional career in 1992 as a classical dancer with West Australian Ballet before performing for a decade with Buzz Dance Theatre and Spare Parts Puppet Theatre. Completing a Graduate Diploma in Arts and Entertainment Management at Deakin University in 2000 saw her become Associate Producer for the 20th UNIMA Congress and World Puppetry Festival before joining Performing Lines WA in 2011. Rachael has significant experience touring shows nationally and internationally and extensive global networks after being a New York International Society of Performing Arts (ISPA) fellow for four years.
'The program has a gorgeous, energetic vibe, which I hope will lift the spirits of our community. We’re taking the Festival to the outskirts of Perth and into Regional WA with our Touring WA Program again this year, so that more people can experience outstanding live art. I'm also very excited about our contemporary music program. It will finally be a return to pre-pandemic times with national and international artists coming to Perth. AND a huge international surprise that will be an Australian exclusive!!!'
Image cr. Dan Grant
Ian Wilkes – Artistic Associate
Ian 'Moopa' Wilkes is Perth Festival’s Artistic Associate and a proud Noongar man of the Wadjuk and Balladong people. A performer, writer and director, Ian is creating new work and gives advice and support to the Festival on First Nations programming.
Ian is a theatre-maker, dancer and performer. Current credits include co-writer and lead performer in Galup and artistic associate for WAYTCO’s Beside, both for Perth Festival 2021, and co-director of York for Black Swan Theatre. In 2021, Ian won the Perth NAIDOC award for Artist of the Year.
He has directed several plays including Yirra Yaakin’s Boodjar Kaatijin, Hobo and Songbird for the Blueroom Theatre, and has helped devise and create many others. He has performed numerous roles including in Yirra Yaakin's Hecate and Ochre’s Kwongan for Perth Festival, CO3’s The Line at State Theatre WA and Honey Spot at the Sydney Opera House. Ian is also a regular performer in the long running WA show Binjareb Pinjarra and a founding facilitator of Culture 2.0, Yirra Yaakin's regional youth engagement program. He was a facilitating artist on Community Arts Network’s Burdiya Mob project and a performer and Cultural Consultant on Beyond Empathy’s Excursions Project.
Always busy, currently Ian is performing as a cast member in Black Swan Theatre Company’s Barracking For The Umpire. He also teaches traditional and contemporary dance to the younger generation by combining his knowledge of culture, theatre and performance.
Image cr. Rachel Audino
Sisonke Msimang – Curator: Literature and Ideas
Sisonke joined Perth Festival as Curator of the 2020 Literature & Ideas Program. Known for her works on race, gender and democracy, she has authored two books – Always Another Country: A Memoir of Exile and Home (Text Publishing, 2018) and The Resurrection of Winnie Mandela (Text Publishing, 2019). In 2021, she won the $60,000 Western Australian Writer's Fellowship as part of the Premier's Book Awards. Using the Fellowship, she is writing a novel.
Sisonke makes regular appearances on news programs like The Drum, Q&A and SBS’ Insight, and has written for The Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald, the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, Bloomberg, and Al Jazeera. Since moving to Perth in 2014, she has worked with dozens of Western Australian storytellers through her on-going work as the head of Storytelling at the Centre for Stories in Northbridge.
'I love all kinds of stories. At the Festival I have a front-row seat in the art of making stories of all kinds. From visual stories to plays, to dance performances, to the kinds of stories about the landscape and boodjar that Noongar artists in our program have been weaving since I joined the team.’
On the 2023 Festival, Sisonke says ‘I can’t wait to see all the stories that we have programmed come alive. And of course I’m excited about bringing the magic of books to life in the Writer’s Weekend.’
Image cr. Mia Mala Mcdonald
Annika Kristensen – Visual Arts Curator
Annika is an experienced curator with a particular interest in commissioning new work by contemporary artists; the civic role of galleries and museums; art in the public realm; and broadening audiences for contemporary art. 2023 will be her first year with Perth Festival.
She brings to the Festival her interest in the relationship between art, audiences and location.
‘I’m especially passionate about creating diverse audiences for visual art outside of regular gallery-goers.’
‘Working for the festival offers a unique opportunity to be able to think about cross-disciplinary practices, public and participatory projects, or how art might be able to help us to experience our city, and relate to each other, in new ways, especially when it is encountered in unexpected contexts and sites.’
Previously Senior Curator at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA), Melbourne, where she remains as an Associate Curator, Annika has worked with major international and Australian artists to commission new work and curate significant solo and group exhibitions. Recent exhibitions include: Like a Wheel That Turns (with Max Delany, 2022); Frances Barrett: Meatus (2022); Who’s Afraid of Public Space? (with Max Delany and Miriam Kelly, 2021-22); Haroon Mirza: The Construction of an Act (2019); The Theatre is Lying (with Max Delany, 2018-19); Eva Rothschild: Kosmos (with Max Delany, 2018); and Unfinished Business: Perspectives on art and feminism (with Paola Balla, Max Delany, Julie Ewington, Vikki McInnes and Elvis Richardson, 2017–18). Annika has also held positions at the Biennale of Sydney, Sydney; Frieze Art Fair, Artangel, Film and Video Umbrella, London; and The West Australian newspaper, Perth.
Annika was a participant in the 2013 Gertrude Contemporary and Art & Australia Emerging Writers Program and the recipient of an Asialink Arts Residency to Tokyo in 2014. She holds a MSc in Art History, Theory and Display from the University of Edinburgh and a BA in Arts/Communications from the University of Western Australia.
Image cr. Chiako Omori
Tom Vincent – Program Associate: Film
2023 mark's Tom’s ninth year with Perth Festival. He’s a curator and creative producer who specialises in cinema. Formerly a club promoter and school and university tutor, Tom has been working with film, media and art institutions in the UK and Australia since 2006.
He is motivated by ideas in art and for audiences, and most enjoy the chance to influence the places he works through art and new collaborations. He has lived in Dorset, Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Liverpool, Nottingham and Tokyo, and since 2014 in Perth.
‘I love the encounters with different people, art and ideas that are part of Festival work.
Our job as programmers is to make the best of any situation involving art, money, people, story, time and place. It’s creative, surprising work and very enjoyable when shared with others. And no two Festivals, no two issues, are ever the same.'
Image cr. Kristoffer Paulsen
Tom Supple – Contemporary Music Programmer
An experience cultural consultant and curator, Thomas has unique experience in major festival direction and cultural destination events. A graduate of the University of Melbourne Law School, he is a former senior curator for Dark Mofo, MONA (2013-2019). His current curatorial appointments include Carriageworks, Vivid (SYD) and our own Perth Festival.
As an artist, Thomas regularly works with sound artist Byron J. Scullin. 2021 has seen the pair realised multiple large scale public works including a new commission from Rising, The Rivers Sing a collaboration with Deborah Cheetham AO and a subsequent presentation of their existing work Siren Song at Theatre Der Welt, Dusseldorf, Germany.
Further to what Rachael said, Tom is excited about ‘one headline artists in particular that stands out’ in the 2023 program. 'I can’t wait for people to be blown away by that show’.
‘The ability of the festival to create these moments that no other organisation locally can facilitate is a huge privilege.’
Last year, due to border closures, Tom was unable to enjoy the full program of wonderful events so this Festival he’s ‘super excited about being able to actually get into the state during the Festival!.’
Alex Desebrock – Associate Producer: Industry Programs
Alex is a facilitator, connector, artist, producer, advocate and do-er living in Walyalup (Fremantle). Since 2021 she’s seasonally been curating and developing arts sector initiatives under the Perth Festival Connect for Arts Industry program.
‘I love that the Festival shows such a commitment to industry development. I’m pretty passionate about this stuff, so with my artist hat on, I really appreciate the Festival leadership for investing in the arts sector.
There there are some exciting artists visiting and I look forward to connecting them with the WA sector.'
As an artist, Alex makes intergenerational participatory work under Maybe ( ) Together which has presented works across Australia including Sydney Festival, Dream Big, Awesome Festival, Arts Centre Melbourne, WOMAD, city streets and regional towns. She has had two works in Perth Festival: The Future Postal Service & Small Voices Louder.
Alex has had international residencies with Carte Blanche (Denmark), ASSITEJ (Germany), Arts Chioyda 3331 (Japan) and TheArtGround (Singapore). Locally, she has founded several initiatives that weave the arts sector together. These include FLOCK; Shifting & Stirring and Australian Arts Amidst Covid-19.
Image cr. Sophie Minissale
Sam Nerida – Associate Producer: Creative Learning
Sam Nerida (they/them) is a performer, playwright, director and producer, often working in creative learning and arts-disability spaces. Most recently they were an ally artist for PLWA’s Kolyang Diversity Lab, and are currently writing for WA Youth Theatre Company’s 40 Hour Play Project. They have been a Perth Festival Lab Artist and KISS Club Artist, and directed The Jellyman for which they were nominated for Best Director (PAWA 2020). Plays include Tissue and See You Next Tuesday, the latter of which won Best New Work and Best Independent Production (PAWA, 2019), and in 2020 they were commissioned to contribute to Playwriting Australia’s Dear Australia monologue project.
Sam’s latest performance credit is TOAST (Black Swan State Theatre Company & TBRT, 2022), and recent producing credits include Mother of Compost (Noemie Huttner-Koros, 2022), Queer as Flux (The Nest Ensemble, 2021), and a regional tour of See You Next Tuesday (Static Drive, 2022). They are currently the Secretary of the Board of The Blue Room Theatre as well as a teaching artist for All Saints College, AWESOME Arts and WA Youth Theatre Company.
At Perth Festival Sam curates a program to connecting young people and teachers with the Festival, under the Festival's Connect for Schools program.
‘I often feel like the dumbest person in the room, and it’s the greatest feeling ever. To work in an office surrounded by people I admire and want to learn from is such a privilege, and everyone is so cool and passionate.’
Now that you've met the curatorial team, stay tuned for their incredible Perth Festival 2023 program.
Key dates to remember:
Thu 3 Nov
Tickets on sale to general public
Mon 21 Nov
Lotterywest Films opens
Feb 10 – Mar 5