ASSITEJ Advisory Committee

Established in 2020, the ASSITEJ Advisory Committee is made up of Theatre for Young Audiences and Youth Arts representatives from across the country. Together with ASSITEJ International President and Australia Representative Sue Giles, we provide advocacy leadership for the ASSITEJ Australia Network. We also strengthen the sector through quarterly meetings and ongoing conversations.

The acronym ASSITEJ comes from the original French: Association Internationale de Theatre pour les Enfants et le Jeunesse, meaning International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People.

SUE GILES AM

President of ASSITEJ International and ASSITEJ Australian Representative

Sue has been the Artistic Director of Polyglot Theatre since 2000. She is also currently both the Australian representative and President of ASSITEJ International – a global association of Youth Theatre and Theatre for Young Audiences – of which TNA is the Australian host secretariat. ... In 2019 she was honoured as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).

KEVIN DU PREEZ

Monkey Baa Theatre Company (NSW)

Kevin is an arts executive, strategist and facilitator with experience working in a range of industries including government, arts, film and media. His impact areas focus on leadership development, innovation, organisational sustainability and partnerships. With a career spanning over 22 years, Kevin has pioneered and led internationally recognised programs ... that are an integral part of transforming creative leadership, knowledge and skills in the Australian arts and cultural industry. Prior to joining Monkey Baa, Kevin worked at the Australia Council for the Arts where he was the Director of Capacity Building. During his 11-year tenure, Kevin developed major industry development programs including the Australia Council leadership programs; national policies, such as the digital culture strategy; many large sector events and hundreds of professional development programs. He coaches and mentors alumni from around Australia and the Indo-Pacific. Kevin has a strong background in operations and business management that he developed in previous roles, including film festival production, technology and media business analysis and project management. Kevin has been a member of the NSW selection committee for the Sir John Monash Scholarship since 2015 and was previously a board director for Assisted Community Living Ltd and the chair of the ACL Foundation Ltd. He was co-chair of the Global Arts Leadership Program Organisers network with members across 14 countries. Kevin is a fierce advocate for social justice and targets his volunteering work to improve the lives of young people, the LGBTQIA+ community and people with disability. Kevin uses the pronouns he/him.

HELEN HRISTOFSKI

Independent (WA)

A respected arts leader, who over 20 years has commissioned, produced and presented significant new Australian productions, from major festival presentations to small intimate works, across a number of artforms. As a regular attendee at industry gatherings, maintains a strong national and international network. Alongside producing has also developed and scaled some of ... Australia’s prominent creative learning programs. From 2013 - 2021, led Barking Gecko Theatre as CEO through adversity to a position of strength, re-emerging as a nationally respected and thriving theatre company. Financial stability was achieved through exceptional growth as well as building an engaged community of supporters and collaborators. Barking Gecko's clear and compelling artistic program was integrated across all company activities, including touring, creative learning and world-class research. Helen has also held positions at Sydney Theatre Company, Bell Shakespeare and Performing Lines.

ZAC JAMES

Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company (WA)

Zac James is a TO Wongi, Yamatji man and a very experienced writer and prolific workshop facilitator. As the Creative Director of Yirra Yaakin Theatre Company, he developed the Moorditj Wirla (Strong Heart) Workshops, which explore culture and the importance of belonging and identity in community mental health. Zac has both trained facilitators for the Moorditj Wirla Workshops... and facilitated them himself. He has also worked as Coordinator of the Theatrical Response Group for Constable Care, and a facilitator of Yirra Yaakin's Culture 2.0 Workshops which toured extensively to regional WA. As an actor, Zac has featured in 8MMM: Aboriginal Radio (ABC/Netflix), Shadow Trackers (SBS/ NITV), and the play Conversations with the Dead (Yirra Yaakin). He was a recipient of Screen Australia’s Pitch Short Black development program and his writing credits include Kaarla Kaatijin, Ice Land: A Hip h'Opera and Bilya Kaatijin. Zac studied at WAAPA, specialising in acting and performance.

ALESHIA JOHNSON

Warehouse Circus (ACT)

Aleshia Johnson is Executive Director of Warehouse Circus. She began managing Warehouse Circus in 2010 when it was a small community organisation of around 140 participants. Across the past eleven years, Aleshia has enjoyed the challenge of helping to grow the company to provide circus to over 550 people per week in Canberra, while still retaining Warehouse’s community spirit and uniqueness. Aleshia’s passion comes from... knowing first-hand the impact youth arts can have on a young person’s life, their sense of belonging, self-esteem and love of life-long learning. When she’s not running a circus, Aleshia is mum to a four-year old and an almost two-year old, and the frontwoman of local original alternative rock band, Second Sun.

BELINDA KELLY

Terrapin (TAS)

Belinda has worked in the performing arts as a theatre and events producer, manager and administrator for over 15 years, with a speciality in supporting the development and presentation of new Australian work. Currently the Executive Producer at Terrapin, Belinda has held producer and artistic associate positions at Sydney’s Griffin Theatre Company and Melbourne’s Theatre Works and ... curated and produced the Melbourne Festival’s 2016 and 2017 Directors Lab. As a producer at Arts Centre Melbourne, Belinda delivered large-scale international touring works and intimate family shows, produced new AsiaTOPA partnership events and ran the Kiln program of workshops and events supporting the development of independent artists. Belinda has a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws from Monash University and is a board member of Beaker Street Festival, an annual celebration of science and art in lutruwita/Tasmania.

ROMI KUPFER

Independent (WA)

Romi Kupfer is a contemporary theatre maker, director and producer. Romi's practice has evolved through practical experience collaborating with companies, artists and communities as well as theatre training. Romi holds a Bachelor of Performing Arts (Honours) from Monash University and a Masters of Directing for Performance from the Victorian College of the Arts,... University of Melbourne. Romi's work stems from urgent thoughts, experiences and understandings that happen in her life. Often conceptually driven by ideas around culture and identity, mental health, female spaces and power dynamics. More often than not, Romi devises her work in collaboration with other artists. Romi's work is heavily inspired by physical movement and dance. As her practice continues, she is driven by creating inclusive and accessible theatrical experiences for both artists and audience members.

CHRISTIAN LEAVESLEY

Arena Theatre Company (VIC)

Christian Leavesley is Arena Theatre Company’s Artistic Director and Co-CEO, based in Bendigo, Victoria. He trained at Monash University, the Victorian College of the Arts and the University of Missouri-Columbia. Christian was co-Artistic Director of Uncle Semolina(& friends), whose multi-award winning works were programmed around Australia, including... Melbourne International Festival, Malthouse Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Sydney Opera House, Arts Centre Melbourne and internationally in Europe and Asia, including The Barbican Centre London and The Shanghai Centre for Dramatic Arts. Christian’s directing work for Arena Theatre includes Starchaser (AWGIE Award for Best Children’s Play), Marlin (3 Helpmann nominations, including Best New Australian Work, and Winner Drama Victoria Best Play for Primary Aged Students), Trapper (2 Green Room nominations), Sunny Ray and the Magnificent Moon (Sydney Festival, Awesome Festival, Official Selection for China Children’s International Theatre Festival and ASSITEJ International Gathering) and Air Race (Darwin Festival). Outside of Arena, he has directed Eurosmash and The Orchid and the Crow (Dan Tobias and Clare Bartholomew), both of which won Green Room Awards and toured widely in Australia, North America and Europe, and Ben Grant’s The Shrink and Swell of Knots (La Mama Theatre and Brisbane Festival.) Christian is a recipient of The Malcolm Robertson Prize for new writing, and in 2020 was nominated for the Regional Development Victoria Leadership and Innovation Award. He is currently a member of ConnectUp – European Theatre for Young People in a Union of Diversity, run out of the University of Agder, Norway.

TARIRO MAVONDO

Western Edge Youth Arts in (VIC)

Tariro whose name means hope is a Zimbabwean born multi disciplinary artist raised in Narrm/ Melbourne. Tariro’s body and breadth of work spans across multiple storytelling disciplines- acting, performance poetry, spoken word, writing, movement, directing, consultation and facilitation. Tariro is the co-Artistic Director of Western Edge Youth Arts, a 20 year old youth performing ... arts company that works across Melbourne’s western suburbs, providing space for young people to come together to tell their own stories, in their own way and with their own voice. By providing a safe space to explore creativity, learn new artistic practices, and develop leadership skills, WEYA constructs supportive pathways for young people to achieve their own creative agency. An award winning performance poet, Tariro also works as an actor on the Australian stage (MTC, STC, Bell Shakespeare, Belvoir, Black Swan, Red Stitch, Street Theatre) and screen (Neighbours, Winners and Losers, Other People’s Problems), has been an actor in the internationally acclaimed, award winning webseries Shakespeare Republic and the award winning short films Arrivals and Home, has been a voice over artist for La Trobe, AFLW, Thomas The Tank Engine (UK), HESTA, PWC, BMW and more. Tariro’s career highlights have been training with legendary dancer and teacher Anna Halprin in Northern California and attending the Decolonial Summer School in UniSA in Pretoria, South Africa both those experiences inform a lot of her work and artistic practices. Tariro recently released her first album ‘Closed Beginnings’ which is an electro-acoustic/spoken word/sound art work in collaboration with Reuben Lewis, Peter Knight and Australian Art Orchestra. Tariro released her first EP titled ‘Bones’ in collaboration with Reuben Lewis (I Hold The Lion’s Paw’ as part of a New Movements in Australian Jazz and Soul compilation produced by Seven Wonders. Tariro’s piece ‘The Dangers of a Single Story’ is part of an anthology ‘Growing Up African in Australia’ published by Black Inc Books (2019). Tariro is the founder of Africa’s Got Talent Australia and a Co-Founder of Centre of Poetics and Justice.

SARAH PARSONS

Outback Theatre for Young People (NSW)

Sarah Parsons is the Creative Producer/CEO of Outback Theatre for Young People in Deniliquin, a role that sees her design and deliver projects with regional and remote communities across a 30,000 square km area of South West NSW. Most of her arts practice to date has been dedicated to arts in counter-urban areas, and Sarah is fiercely passionate about theatre for young people, community driven work, advocating for ... regional based practice and sustainable arts engagement in remote and regional Australia. In April 2018, Sarah was appointed as a Director on the Board of Regional Arts NSW. Sarah also currently sits on the ASSITEJ Advisory Group for Theatre Network Australia and is a Peer Assessor on the Theatre and Musical Theatre Board for Create NSW. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Theatre and Media), an Honours degree (specialising in Theatre for Young People), and a Bachelor of Teaching (Drama) from Charles Sturt University in Bathurst. Sarah began her career by writing, designing, directing, performing in and touring Theatre in Education shows to most of Central West NSW with Stuck in the Mud Productions, a theatre company she co-established, and ran from 2005-08. In the past, Sarah has been engaged as Lecturer of Theatre for Young People at Charles Sturt University, Director of the Bathurst Theatre Company’s Youth Theatre, Education Facilitator for Jigsaw Theatre Company (Canberra), and Workshop Manager for Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP). During her time in Sydney, Sarah directed three shows for ATYP: Compass(2013),Luke Lloyd: Alienoid(2014) and The Voices Project: Between Us(2015) and was the Assistant Director on Max Remy Super Spy(2012) and MROCK(2014, with Sydney Theatre Company).

RHEN SOGGEE

ActNow Theatre (SA)

Rhen is an arts manager living and working as a migrant on unceded Kaurna land. They are Executive Director & Co-CEO of ActNow Theatre and Co-Chair of Post Office Projects. They are interested in contemporary, experimental, multicultural, inter/multi-disciplinary and participatory arts. They seek to affect social change through the arts, specifically with multicultural, ... intersectional, feminist and queer agendas.

LOUISE WELLINGTON

Independent (NT)

Louise Wellington combines business acumen with strong people skills and plenty of nuts-and-bolts experience across diverse industries including community housing, building and construction, outstations service delivery, the performing arts, visual arts and Women’s programs. Her skills lie in project and operational management and her passions are deeply entrenched in ... First Nations empowerment, creating opportunities and improving conditions for young people. Before assuming the role of associate producer with ActNow Theatre in South Australia, Louise was the operations manager for Central Australian Affordable Housing Company and the marketing and project manager for Ingkerreke Commercial NT. She recently co-founded a social change consultancy - Tin Truck Consulting and brings with her a wealth of experience in First Nations and socially conscious settings across the country and also was a representative and intern at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women held in New York, 2016. She continues to advocate in the arts as the Northern Territory representative on the ASSITEJ advisory board (International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People).

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