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On the move: the latest appointments and resignations

Visual Arts Writer

Opera Queensland appoints an Executive Director, NETS Victoria gets new Director and QSO appoints a new Director of Sales and Marketing.
On the move: the latest appointments and resignations

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Opera Q appoints new Executive Director

Multi-talented arts producer and manager Sandra Willis has been appointed as the new Executive Director of Opera Queensland and will relocate from Melbourne to Brisbane to commence on 24 July 2017.

Willis’ 18-year career includes roles as Executive Producer, Touring and Outreach at Opera Australia and General Manager of Oz Opera at Opera Australia; Company Manager at Bell Shakespeare; and Company Manager at Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – The Musical. After graduating from NIDA, she freelanced in stage management, event management, production management & coordination for many of Australia's arts companies.


As Executive Producer and General Manager at Opera Australia, Willis managed a budget of $5 million, bringing 2,000 performances and events to more than half a million patrons across every Australian state and territory.

She secured almost $10 million in government, private and philanthropic funding, saved up to $250,000 in operational costs, cultivated touring networks in North America, Europe and Asia, conceived and established a number of new community engagement programs, and managed a successful rebrand from Oz Opera to Opera Australia. Willis was also the Executive Producer for Opera Australia’s 2015 and 2016 multi award-winning production The Rabbits, composed by Kate Miller-Heidke.

She is a Board Director at Arena Theatre Company, a trustee of the Opera Australia Benevolent Fund, and has advised the Australian Government on regional and touring arts programs as part of an expert panel.

Willis leaves a position as Senior Adviser for Philanthropy at RMIT University, where she has been a key player in leading a major fundraising campaign, and developed significant new streams of funding in the School of Media and Communications.

OperaQ Chair, Dr Sally Pitkin said the Board was delighted to announce Willis' appointment. 'Sandra’s achievements during her six years at Opera Australia, and her combination of management, production and philanthropy experience at some of Australia’s most prestigious cultural institutions, make her a sought-after arts leader.'

Incoming OperaQ Artistic Director, Patrick Nolan said the appointment was great news for Brisbane and Opera Queensland. 'Sandra's exceptional work as the producer on the highly praised and awarded The Rabbits, is one of a long list of credits that ensures the business of OperaQ is in very good hands. I can't wait to start working with her.'

The appointment follows OperaQ’s announcement in April 2017 that General Manager Russell Mitchell would step down from his role after more than five years with the company.

NETS Victoria gets new Director

National Exhibitions Touring Support (NETS) Victoria has announced the appointment of Mardi Nowak as the organisation’s new Director.

Nowak, who trained as an artist, has worked as a curator and gallery manager for more than 16 years in the public gallery and local government sector, most recently at the Town Hall Gallery, Hawthorn.

Over the past decade she has developed over 100 exhibitions and programs, as well as artist-in-residence programs and overseeing public art commissions.

Sarah Bond, Chair of NETS Victoria said: ‘The Board was won over by Mardi’s significant professional achievement, commitment to the sector and vision. We’re looking forward to working with Mardi to deliver our current slate of ambitious and stimulating exhibitions and shape the program going forward.’ 

Nowak said: ‘I’m really looking forward to engaging with metropolitan and regional audiences. In many respects it’s a homecoming; I started my arts career at Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery.’

QSO appoint Director of Sales and Marketing

Queensland Symphony Orchestra has announced that Matthew Hodge will take up the position of Director of Sales and Marketing, effective Monday 10 July.

Passionate about guiding classical music and the arts into the future and growing audiences, Hodge joins QSO from Sydney Symphony Orchestra where he was Marketing Manager – CRM & Database, specialising in customer relationship management (CRM) and the science of audience curation. Prior to that, he was CRM Manager at Music Viva Australia.

In both roles Hodge enjoyed quantifiable success across subscription and single ticket sales, audience growth, research interpretation and strategy implementation and corporate sponsorship development. He is also recognised as a national leader in the use of the leading arts ticketing and CRM system, Tessitura.

Hodge spent his formative years in Queensland, completing school and university in the Sunshine State. He also experienced his first live classical music events in Brisbane; the beginning of a lifelong love for him.

‘Queensland Symphony Orchestra is transforming into an orchestra for the 21st century – an orchestra that’s relevant, that connects with all people, across all geographies, cultures, backgrounds and ages, and an orchestra that the world wants to listen to. The position of Director of Sales and Marketing is pivotal to realising this vision,’ said Queensland Symphony Orchestra Chief Executive David Pratt.

“The way people access and digest information, make decisions, spend their time and are influenced has changed dramatically over the past 10 years, in fact it changes every moment. We need to work within this paradigm, we need to be an integral part of it so we can continue to connect with people - and this means people from the Concert Hall to the Queen Street Mall, from Kingaroy to Cairns and well beyond.’

Hodge said it was a huge privilege for him to return to a city and Orchestra that he remembers so fondly.

‘I’m very excited by the big vision for the future that is shared by the QSO, their Music Director Alondra de la Parra, and Chief Executive David Pratt, and I’m looking forward to the challenge,’ he said.

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