TNA’s Board is an Industry Board, primarily made up of representatives of arts organisations and independent artists. There are currently eleven members, drawn from across the country, who are governed by TNA’s Rules of Association.
JILL SMITH AM (CHAIR)
Jill is the immediate past General Manager at the Geelong Performing Arts Centre. As the former General Manager of the Playbox Theatre, with a focus on the work of Australian playwrights, Smith oversaw the theatre’s rise from its Exhibition Street home to its rebirth in 1990 at the CUB Malthouse. In 2019, Jill was awarded an Honorary Doctorate with Deakin University for her work in Geelong advocating for the Geelong Cultural Precinct Masterplan including the redevelopment of the Arts Centre, and the arts in general. Such advocacy has seen the new City of Greater Geelong strategic plan – A Clever and Creative City – emerge with creativity as a central focus, and the City’s UNESCO City of design designation. In 2021 she was honoured as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).
CAROLINE BOWDITCH (CO-DEPUTY CHAIR)
Caroline is currently CEO at Arts Access Victoria, and was previously living and working in the UK for 16 years. She is an international artist, teacher, and speaker, and has held roles such as Scottish Dance Theatre’s Dance Agent for Change, Associate Artist with Paragon Music (Glasgow), Dance4 (Nottingham) and Imaginate (Scotland), and was Visiting Professor at Coventry University. She has been a regular consultant on accessibility and inclusivity to Skånes Dansteater, Sweden and British Council.
ERICA MCCALMAN (CO-DEPUTY CHAIR)
Erica is a producer, project and production manager with Ballardong (Noongar), Irish convict, Scottish, and Cornish heritage. She is currently Special Events Producer at Darwin Festival, and a Consulting Producer specialising in Emerging Artists and Producers for clients such as Melbourne Fringe, Yirramboi and City of Melbourne. From 2016 – 2019, she was Creative Producer at Next Wave after living and working in Sydney for Legs On The Wall physical theatre company and managing the British Council’s ACCELERATE Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leadership programme. Previously Erica was an Associate Producer for Next Wave 2014 and has worked with Performing Lines, Sydney Festival, Blackfella films and Performance Space managing programs and initiatives both locally and nationally. Her production credits include works within Melbourne Fringe, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Adelaide Festival and Brisbane Festival. She has collaborated with artists from Korea, Australia and Timor Leste, and holds a particular interest in contemporary, experimental and live art from First Nations and diverse artists.
LOU OPPENHEIM (TREASURER)
Lou Oppenheim is currently Director, Production and Events at Sydney Opera House. Prior to this, she was the Senior Manager, Create Infrastructure, within the NSW Department of Planning and Environment. From 2013-19, Lou was the Co-CEO and General Manager of Circus Oz, overseeing establishment of the organisation’s first ever purpose-built home base and transition to new artistic leadership, alongside the continuation of broad remote, regional and international touring program. Lou is currently also Deputy Chair of ELISION. Previously roles have included Chair of the City of Yarra Arts Advisory Committee, Board Member for Melbourne Youth Music, and the Arts Administration Tutor for the Australian Youth Orchestra.
SUE GILES AM
Sue Giles has been the Artistic Director of Polyglot Theatre since 2000, leading the company into new territory with interactive works, community process and inclusion of play in the company’s theatrical offerings for children. She is also currently both the Australian representative and Vice President of ASSITEJ International – a global association of Youth Theatre and Theatre for Young Audiences – of which TNA is the Australian host and secretariat. In 2019 she was honoured as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).
Andrea James is a Yorta Yorta/Gunnakurnai woman with mad Polish roots and very big hair. Fiercely loyal and always politically motivated, she invades contemporary art spaces to uphold rich and ever-evolving cultural traditions. She is a VCA trained theatremaker and Creative Producer specialising in Aboriginal performance and contemporary arts as a practitioner, playwright and producer. She was Artistic Director of Melbourne Workers’ Theatre 2001-2008 where she is best known for her play Yanagai! Yanagai! Her latest play Sunshine Super Girl will receive its world premiere in 2020.
Cassie McGannon is an experienced policy and advocacy adviser. She has held policy and strategy roles at Social Ventures Australia; the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet; the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet; Grattan Institute; and as an adviser to a federal Cabinet Minister. She holds a Masters in Public Policy degree from Princeton University. Cassie has volunteered with the Melbourne International Arts Festival, Melbourne International Film Festival, Melbourne Writers Festival, and the US Library of Congress National Book Festival. In 2018 Cassie was placed with the TNA Board as part of The Observership Program, before formally joining in 2019.
Sam Routledge is a director and producer of contemporary puppetry, with a strong record of innovation in the form. He has created and co-created nine original works including two international touring productions, Men Of Steel (2006) and I Think I Can (2013). He has worked with many Australian and international companies including My Darling Patricia, Arena Theatre Company, Snuff Puppets, Darwin Festival, Windmill Theatre Company, Gruppe 38 (Denmark), Societas Raffaello Sanzio (Italy), and LATT Children’s Theatre (Korea). His work has toured extensively nationally and internationally. Sam has been the Artistic Director of Terrapin Puppet Theatre in Hobart, since 2012, and in this role has commissioned and co-commissioned four new works of puppetry from leading Australian playwrights for young people, including Sean Monro, Finnegan Kruckemeyer and Angela Betzien.
Lyn is the immediate past Artistic Director at Hothouse Theatre. She has worked as a director, producer, programmer, performer and teacher for over 30 years, with a practice focus on new Australian writing. Lyn spent almost a decade as Downstairs Theatre Director for Belvoir (Company B) where she curated and produced nine seasons of independent theatre, and championed a new wave of artistic leaders. During this time she wrote In Good Company – a manual for producing independent theatre, which was published by Currency Press in 2005. Prior to joining HotHouse, Lyn was Director of Theatre for the Australia Council for the Arts for almost six years, where she played a key role in the development of national policy and strategic initiatives for the Australian theatre sector.
Robyn’s career has been driven by her passion for the role that creativity plays in fostering socially-just and economically vibrant communities. As Executive Director and Co-CEO of Footscray Community Arts Centre, Robyn is responsible for driving strategy and business sustainability, and has championed the importance of their Precinct Plan, which aims to reinvigorate and honour FCAC’s unique creative precinct. Before joining FCAC as General Manager in 2018, Robyn has held roles in government and the independent arts sectors as a project manager and producer. Robyn was previously Deputy Chair of L2R, a charity dedicated to providing opportunities for young people to participate in dance. Robyn holds a Bachelor of Arts (Asian Studies) from the University of Western Australia, a Masters of Arts Management from RMIT, and is a MBA candidate at Melbourne Business School.
Zainab Zahra Syed is a Creative Producer and Poet. Her practice sits at the intersection of social justice and live performance. After graduating from Brown University (USA) she toured across the world, performing poetry and working with incarcerated women, trauma victims and refugees.
From 2017-2021 Zainab produced and toured ambitious new works of scale by independent theatre and dance artists at Performing Lines WA including Whoosh! by Sensorium Theatre; Layla Majnun by illUMEnate; Fully Sikh by Barking Gecko and Black Swan; Minneapolis by Will O’Mahony; Slow Burn Together by Emma Fishwick; Black Brass by Mararo Wangai; Children of the Sea by Jay Emmanuel as well as the 2020 & 2021 Kolyang Creative Hub and CaLd Artist Labs, sector wide Initiatives created to break down silos and forge new pathways in the industry.
Zainab is Deputy Chair of The Blue Room Theatre board, leading their Equity Action Strategy & Plan 2021-2024. She is also a founder of Pakistan Poetry Slam (2015), co-founder of illUMEnate, a diverse arts collective in WA (2016), a Humanitarian Observer with the Australian Red Cross Immigration Detention Program and a 2020 Churchill Fellow.
Beyond producing, Zainab’s work has focused on facilitating intercultural collaborations, developing inclusive frameworks for creating new work and pathways for culturally diverse artists and enabling systemic change within institutions. In July 2021, Zainab will be joining Belvoir St Theatre as a Producer.
TNA acknowledges the vital contribution of former board members: Simon Abrahams (Co-founder & Chair 2010-2017), Gorkem Acaroglu, Sarah Austin (Co-founder), Maude Davey (Co-founder), Rose Godde (Co-founder), Ben Graetz, John Harvey, Fiona Maxwell (Co-founder & Chair 2009-2010), Chris Mead, Erin Milne (Co-founder), Alice Nash (Co-founder & Deputy Chair 2009-2017), Veronica Pardo, Emily Sexton, Chris Thompson (Co-founder), Ann Tonks, Geoffrey Williams (Co-founder), Brad Spolding (Co-Founder), Catherine Jones and Annette Vieusseux.