We acknowledge the Traditional Owners and Sovereign Custodians of the land on which we live and work. We extend our respects to their Ancestors and all First Nations peoples and Elders past, present, and future.
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About

Who We Are

Agency is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander not-for-profit that responds to an identified need expressed by cultural leaders, which resonates with Government priorities, academic research and the voice of innovative philanthropists who care deeply about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, art and Country.

Munupi Arts, Melville Island. Photo by Alana Holmberg.
What We Do

Agency is a catalyst for connection, engagement, and impact with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, communities and culture.

Intergenerational learning at Durrmu Arts in Peppimenarti. Photo by Timothy Hillier.

Catalyst for Connection

Agency secures sustainable investment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led projects from government, corporate and private sectors to support targeted activities that benefit Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and cultural leaders. Our key strength is our capacity to identify and establish innovative partnerships and opportunities that result in timely outcomes that respond to an identified need.

Timo Hogan painting at Spinifex Arts in Tjuntjuntjarra. Photo by Timothy Hillier.

Celebrate & Promote

Agency creates new opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creative practitioners and cultural leaders to build profile, skills, wealth and scholarship. We celebrate and promote these partnerships through our extensive national and international audiences and networks, and via the talks, events and exhibitions that we host.

Rona Glynn-McDonald and Dakota Feirer speak at UNTOLD x MPavilion in 2022.

Create Impact

Agency delivers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led projects, ensuring high impact outcomes for the individuals and communities with whom we partner. Our work always responds to an identified need and supports the current priorities for the sector, including the new national agreement on Closing the Gap (2020), the National Indigenous Visual Art Plan (2022), and the findings of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander visual arts and crafts Productivity Commission (2022).

Noeleen Danjibana Lalara from speaking on the 65000 Years Panel at UNTOLD Darwin. Photo by Esther Linder

Prioritising First Nations Voices

As an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led organisation, it is Agency’s priority to focus on true representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories, truth telling, and the amplification of First Nations voices. Agency acknowledges that the inclusion and consultation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities at the concept stage of project development is fundamental to enabling authentic voice and representation.

Image courtesy Warlayirti Artists

Ethical Practice

Agency are a supporter and member of Indigenous Art Code (IAC), promoters of the ethical production and sale of art, and encourage local and global promotion of ethical transactions, and adherence to the IAC. We adhere to and uphold the importance of protecting Indigenous Cultural and Intellectual Property (ICIP) law and protocols in all that we do.

Our Impact

Agency delivers activities in Australia and overseas including art and built environment commissions, forums, digital initiatives and other innovative projects that increase the profile of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and engage new audiences.

441
Artists & Creative Practitioners Engaged

Over the course of the 22/23 year, Agency engaged 436 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and creative practitioners through talks, commissions, exhibitions and project-based activity on Country.

32
Art Centres Engaged

Agency facilitated 84 separate projects with a 32 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Centres across the 22-23 year. 75% of participating art centres engaged with Agency over multiple activities over this period.

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Public Events

Agency hosted 39 national and international events throughout the 22/23 year, including talks at the Singapore Art Fair, Sydney Contemporary, Melbourne Design Week and Garma Festival, and exhibitions in Melbourne, the United States and Italy.

159
Professional Development & Training

Over the course of the 22/23 year, Agency provided professional development and training for 159 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, arts workers and creative practitioners, including residencies, public speaking and up-skilling in the area of new digital technology.

200%
Increased Annual Turnover

Agency increased its annual turnover by 200%, from $904,000 to $2mil. This was enhanced through increased government and philanthropic investment, and by securing major government and corporate contracts.

6
International Activities

Agency facilitated six international residency, exhibition and diplomatic activities featuring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders throughout the 22/23 year, including participation in the Singapore Art Fair and the opening of Maḏayin: Eight Decades of Aboriginal Australian Bark Painting from Yirrkala in New Hampshire and Washington DC.

21
Industry Support Services

Agency facilitated 21 Industry Support Services for the Indigenous Visual Art sector throughout the 22/23 year.

12
Partnerships with Cultural Institutions

In the 22/23 year, Agency partnered with 12 national and international cultural and educational institutions to deliver dynamic projects, including Powerhouse Museum, National Gallery of Victoria and the Kluge Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection.

Team

Agency is a progressive and innovative organisation that is governed by a board of directors whose values align with the foundations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander resilience, strength and a desire to share.

Our Board

Lauren Ganley

Chair

Lauren Ganley is a descendent of the Kamillaroi people, growing up on Larrakia country in Darwin. She is the head of Telstra’s First Nations Strategy and Engagement where she leads the strategy and ongoing governance of engagement with First Nations people and communities. Lauren previously enjoyed a successful 30 year career with Telstra and during her five year hiatus from the corporation she worked with Desert Knowledge in Alice Springs and PWC’s Indigenous Consulting in Darwin. Lauren is a graduate and Fellow of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

In 2014 Lauren was recognised as one of Australia’s most influential women, winning a place in The Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards.Her board memberships include Kakadu Tourism, Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education, Community First Development and Darwin Festival.

Bevan Mailman

Deputy Chair

Bevan Mailman is the Managing Director of Jaramer Legal, Australia’s first national Indigenous law firm (2022 Telstra Best of Business Awards – Victoria Indigenous Excellence Award Winner), the Chairman of Desert Springs Projects and Co-Chairman of Desert Springs Octopus, companies which are assisting in the initiation and facilitation of new enterprise, infrastructure and community development projects, including in the area of renewable energy, amongst remote Indigenous communities, especially in Australia’s Northern region. Bevan is also a Board member of the Indigenous Global Network for Investment Trade and Export and Aboriginal Housing Victoria, and he is the Global Indigenous Representative for the North American Australian Lawyers Alliance. Bevan is also an Advisor to Impact Investment Partners, a private equity firm that has established Australia’s first Indigenous infrastructure ownership fund.

Bevan has a background in corporate law and management and works extensively with remote/regional Indigenous communities and organisations in Australia and other jurisdictions both in terms of evaluating the challenges facing communities, and in developing local, national and international strategies to move these communities to a place of improved governance, independence, and economic sustainability and growth.

Hannah Presley

Director

Hannah Presley is the Senior Curator, Museums and Collections at the University of Melbourne.

From 2019-2021 Presley was curator of Indigenous art at the National Gallery of Victoria. Previous to this role, she was the inaugural Yalingwa curator at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art where she curated ‘A Lightness of Spirit is the Measure of Happiness’, and the First Nations Assistant Curator for Tracey Moffatt at the 57th Venice Biennale, working alongside curator Natalie King. Presley has worked in curatorial roles with the Koorie Heritage Trust, Footscray Community Arts Centre and Craft Victoria, also initiating and coordinating the Victorian Aboriginal Weaving Project.

Presley’s curatorial practice focuses on the development of creative projects with Aboriginal artists. She works closely with artists, learning about the techniques, history and community that inform their making to help guide her curatorial process, and drawing on inspiration from her early roles working at Warumpi Arts, with Papunya Community, Iltja Ntjarra, Many Hands and other Central Australian Art Centres.

Elizabeth Liddle

Director

Elizabeth Liddle is a skilled manager and administrator who has worked in the Aboriginal arts and business communities for almost 20 years across Aboriginal policy, governance, implementation, planning and strategy. Liz has worked with many peak arts organisations to champion the development of Aboriginal arts over the last 15 years. Liz has created and supported the development of some major arts initiatives such as the Victorian Indigenous Art Awards, the Koorie Art Show and the Yalingwa program and fellowship.

Liz has senior management experience in delivering outcomes for Aboriginal Economic Development in the Small Business and start-up sectors. Equally, Liz has led in Aboriginal Arts, Culture & Creative sector development across Victoria.

Passionate about the intersection between the arts and entrepreneurship, Liz has delivered sector development strategies and initiatives including implementation of $6.3million Victorian government’s Aboriginal Business Strategy and is keen to see artists progress their arts business outcomes. Liz, an Arrernte woman living in regional Victoria is an artist and business person and is excited to support artists to grow their practice and sustainability.

Richard England

Director

Richard England has over 25 years of experience as a non-executive director and Chairman of numerous listed and unlisted companies encompassing Financial Services, Banking, Insurance, Healthcare, Innovation, Agribusiness and Infrastructure.

Currently, England is Chair of Hobart International Airport Pty Ltd, and an Independent Non-Executive Director of Gardior Pty Ltd, which is the trustee of The Infrastructure Fund (TIF). He is also a Board Director (previously Chair) of Indigenous Art Code Limited, the company administering the Indigenous Australian Art Commercial Code of Conduct.

Prior to embarking on his career as a director he was a Chartered Accountant in Public Practice and a partner at Ernst & Young (1988 to 1994) where he was National Director Corporate Recovery and Insolvency. He was Liquidator or Receiver of many high profile administrations including Southern Equities Corporation (formerly Bond Corporation Holdings Limited). He was previously a partner in Peat Marwick (1982 to 1988).

Virginia Hickey

Director

Virginia Hickey is a corporate governance specialist, lawyer and company director with extensive commercial, government and not-for-profit experience. She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

A highly regarded facilitator and educator, Hickey is committed to working with organisations to raise standards of governance and decision making with a particular interest in board performance, boardroom dynamics and ethics.

Virginia is currently serving on the boards of Peoples Choice Credit Union, Southern Adelaide Local Health Network, Energy Consumers Australia, Anglicare SA and Sportsmed. Previous boards include the University of South Australia Council, the Art Gallery of South Australia, National Transport Commission and National Competition Council. Virginia was previously a partner of commercial law firm, Finlaysons.

Sheree Ford

Company Secretary

Sheree Ford has over 30 years of experience, initially in private practice and then as an in-house counsel and company secretary, largely within the energy and resources sector. She has expertise in managing the commercial and legal activities of companies operating in Australia and internationally, including responsibility for execution of large transactions, commercial contracts, government and community affairs, risk management and corporate governance.

In the energy sector, Sheree commenced her career as a lawyer at BHP and undertook roles as general counsel and company secretary, and as a member of the executive team at several listed and unlisted companies including Beach Energy, Interoil Corporation and Roc Oil Company.

Sheree has a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws, a Graduate Diploma in Resources Law, and a Master of Business Administration.

Our Staff

Kade McDonald

CEO

Kade McDonald (he/him) is the CEO and founder of Agency – a not-for-profit organisation which he established in response to an identified need, with the full support and permission of Indigenous cultural leaders and members of the Agency Board.

Prior to starting Agency, Kade was the Executive Director of Durrmu Arts Aboriginal Corporation for three years and the Coordinator for Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Arts and Cultural Centre for six years. He has been engaged as a cultural consultant for several years implementing cultural maintenance and repatriation projects in collaboration with Community leaders, having worked across Arnhem Land, the Kimberley and the Tiwi Islands.

Kade has been appointed to the Visual Arts Grants selection committee for the Ministry for the Arts, Australian Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria and Arts NT Visual Arts Board for his knowledge on Indigenous Contemporary Arts, and is currently an appointed Expert Examiner of Indigenous Cultural Objects for the Moveable Heritage Act on behalf of the Federal Government and the Department of Communications and the Arts. He holds a Diploma of Business Governance through the Institute of Company Directors and is a Honorary Research Fellow at the Melbourne University’s Centre of Visual Art (CoVA).

Coby Edgar

Creative Advisor and Strategic Partnerships

Coby Ann Edgar (she/her) is one of Australia’s most exciting young curators. A proud Larrakia, Jingili and Anglo woman from the Northern Territory, Coby currently lives and works on Gadigal Country.

From 2022-2023 Coby was Curator, Strategic Projects First Nations at Powerhouse Museum, Sydney where she worked with six remote and urban Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collectives and independent practitioners on an exhibition titled ALCHEMY, which will open at the Powerhouse’s new gallery space in Castle Hill in early 2024.

Other curatorial highlights include, Purple House (Oct 2021 – 27 Feb 2022), Celebrating 21 years of Purple House, its history and continuing legacy at AGNSW; Joy, (Oct 2020 – 21 Feb 2021) a show highlighting objects and films from the central desert region at AGNSW; Badu Gili: Wonder Woman, 23 Apr 2021 which featured the animated collection works of 6 figurative female artists from across the nation and was presented as part of the AGNSW 150th Anniversary celebrations in collaboration with Sydney Opera House.

Mayatili Marika

Cultural Advisor and Strategic Partnerships

Mayatili Marika (she/her) is a Rirratjingu Traditional Owner and Yolŋu woman based in north-east Arnhem Land. Part of a new generation of leadership for Yolŋu people, Mayatili is a bilingual leader and advocate who is  involved in the education pipeline for Yolŋu people in the region.

Mayatili belongs to one of the great artistic and political dynasties of Australia. Her father is Wandjuk Marika O.B.E. and her grandfather is Mawalan Marika. Her father was instrumental in the international recognition of Aboriginal art, traveling around the world to promote Indigenous culture.  As Chair of the Aboriginal Arts Board of the Australian Council he played an important role in advocating for the founding of the Buku-Larrngay Mulka Centre. The Marika family is strongly represented in the Madayin exhibition, as well as museum and gallery collections around the world.

For over a decade Mayatili has been the Cultural Curator and programmer of the Garma Festival (Australia’s largest annual indigenous event) in North East Arnhem Land. She also works for the University of Melbourne. Mayatili’s role at the University of Melbourne provides cultural knowledge, leadership and support for the University’s strategy and partnerships in North East Arnhem Land. The role also connects and builds the University’s relationship with the Yolngu of North East Arnhem Land, working across the University with a range of academic and professional staff at all levels to create, developing and executing opportunities for collaboration with key stakeholders.

Bronwyn Lobb

Business Development

Bronwyn Lobb (she/her) is a skilled fundraiser and business development manager, with over two decades of experience working in the creative industries both in Australia and overseas. As the co-founder of Agency, Bronwyn has worked closely with CEO Kade McDonald and the Agency Board to build the organisation from the ground up, including securing core operational and project funding, driving organisational strategy and managing external communications with Agency’s diverse stakeholders.

From 2017-2020, Bronwyn spearheaded a highly successful fundraising campaign for Spinifex Gum, including securing Australian Government and philanthropic funding to support the release of two albums, the creative development of a live show, and a land-mark national tour, amongst many other activities.

In 2019 Bronwyn was engaged to secure funding for Durrmu Arts Aboriginal Corporation, resulting in significant Government and private sector support for a number of new initiatives for the Art Centre and broader region, including multi-year support from the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation for a community-wide Harvesting project and funds to support the development of a new Cultural Centre and bespoke accommodation facility in Peppimenarti. Previously, as Director of Education and Community Engagement at Melbourne Symphony Orchestra Bronwyn managed a large portfolio of publicly and privately funded programs.

Jennifer Tighe

Corporate Partnerships & Operations

Jennifer Tighe (she/her) brings extensive commercial and cultural business and relationship management experience to Agency. From 2012 to 2021, Jennifer was the General Manager at Tait, where she successfully implemented strong leadership, strategy and HR initiatives, resulting in significant organisational and operational growth for the company.

Prior to this, Jennifer was Manager of Corporate Partnerships and Events, with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Working with the MSO, Jennifer developed strong client-relationship and engagement skills and was actively involved in commercial operations, and overseeing annual fundraising and donor engagement events.

As a practicing artist herself, Jennifer has a long-standing interest in the Arts. Jennifer is passionate about the Indigenous Visual Art sector, building awareness of Indigenous art and culture, and excited about the role she will play in building strategic partnerships and developing a strong platform for Agency’s long-term sustainability.

Leila Gurruwiwi

Public Programs Lead

Leila Gurruwiwi (she/her) is a multi-talented individual with a diverse range of skills and expertise. She is a proud Yolŋu woman, originally from Galiwinku on Elcho Island in North East Arnhem Land, who grew up on Dja Dja Wurrung Country (Bendigo, Victoria). 

She is a media personality, a captivating presenter, a talented actor, a cultural ambassador, and a knowledgeable mentor. Leila’s passion for raising awareness, embracing cultural heritage, and fighting for a more inclusive and united society is truly remarkable. She is an inspiration to all, particularly in her tireless efforts to create a safe environment for minority groups.

As part of the Agency Projects team Leila is the Public Programs lead and works to create opportunities for First Nations perspectives to be heard by a wider audience.

Georgia Kamvissis

Projects Officer

Georgie Kamvissis (she/her) is a skilled project officer, with a strong background in graphic design, illustration and communications.Having recently relocated back to Melbourne after two years working with Anindilyakwa Arts on Groote Eylandt, Georgie brings valuable on-the-ground insight and experience in working and living in remote communities to her work with Agency.

Prior to her time on Groote Eylandt, Georgie collaborated with various organisations on impactful projects, showcasing her creativity as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator.Georgie is passionate about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture and embodies a commitment to respectful engagement with diverse communities and cultural sensitivity in all that she does.

Reporting
An overview of our annual operations and comprehensive summary of performance against our strategic plan are available for your viewing.