Artshub speaks with the new Executive Director of NAVA

Gina Fairley

Esther Anatolitis has been named today as the new Executive Director of the National Association of the Visual Arts.
Artshub speaks with the new Executive Director of NAVA

Esther Anatolitis; photo by Sarah Walker

Chair of the National Association of the Visual Arts (NAVA) Board, James Emmett, has today announced the appointment of Esther Anatolitis as the organisation’s next Executive Director.

Emmett said: ‘Esther’s experience, profile and intellect makes her ideal to lead NAVA through its next chapter.’

Anatolitis comes to NAVA from Regional Arts Victoria, where she currently works as Director of Projects. Her practice rigorously integrates professional and artistic modes of working to create collaborations, projects and workplaces that promote critical reflection.


She told ArtsHub: ‘Art asks questions, and demands that we do the same. Whether we're advocating for the space and time to devote to a practice, the rights to your own work, the ethics of diverse expression, or the national framework that best sustains and propels the entire sector, advocacy for the arts is a conversation we all need to power. Together.’

Anatolitis was Director Regional Arts Victoria from 2012 to early 2017, where she led an invigorated artistic framework for Regional Arts Victoria with a focus on Creative Communities, Creative Places and Creative Catalysts – the latter prioritising our membership as well as our advocacy voice.

Moving into the role of Director of Projects across the past six months, she has overseen projects such as Small Town Transformations II and Artlands Victoria.

Senator Mitch Fifield, Minister for Communications and the Arts, said he was looking forward to continuing the very good working relationship the government developed with Anatolitis during her time at Regional Arts Victoria. 'Stepping in after Tamara’s 22 years at the helm would be daunting for anyone, but I am confident that Esther is more than up to the task,' Fifield added.

Similarly, Tony Burke, Shadow Minister for the Arts, said, ‘Esther has long been recognised as a respected, insightful and fearless advocate for the arts. Every breath of her advocacy has been underscored by the principle of keeping artists themselves at the centre of policy. Esther’s appointment is an unequivocal win for visual artists.’

Anatolitis told ArtsHub that her vision is indeed that artists should lead the national cultural agenda. ‘This is as much a vision for Australia as it is for NAVA,’ she said. 

She continued: ‘Arts advocacy is important to me because a confident, creative and responsible politic is important for us all. What are Australia's most pressing challenges, and how are we going to respond? What confidence do we have in our public institutions to lead meaningful change? What does the public conversation tell us about the culture of our nation right now?’

Anatolitis is a sought-after cultural and political commentator on panels, on radio and in print. She has facilitated national sector gatherings, political debates and industry events, and has participated in advocacy sessions at the IFACCA World Summit, the Americans for the Arts Convention, the UK Rural Cultural Strategy roundtable, and the past three Artlands biennials.

Read: Inspire60: Esther Anatolitis

Anatolitis said of her new role: ‘Tamara Winikoff’s tremendous legacy has set that bar high, and I’m very much looking forward to working with NAVA’s superb team. NAVA’s members power the arts across our cities, suburbs and regions. Let’s lead the national cultural agenda with a confident, creative vision for Australia’s future.’

Following a formative period as the DAAD Künstlerprogramm resident at the Bauhaus, Anatolitis has held several arts and media leadership roles including with Craft Victoria, Melbourne Fringe, SBS and Express Media, and most recently with Regional Arts Victoria.

She currently serves the boards of ACMI, Contemporary Arts Precincts as Deputy Chair, and Elbow Room Productions as Chair. She is also a member of the TarraWarra Museum of Art Contemporary Circle, the Melbourne Writers Festival programming advisory, and is a graduate of the Australia Council leadership programs.

Across ten years Anatolitis co-curated Architecture+Philosophy, has taught into the studio program at RMIT Architecture, and has also taught at UNSW and the University of Sydney. A writer and critic, her work is regularly published.

Brianna Munting and Penelope Benton have been acting as co-directors since the resignation of long standing Executive Director Tamara Winikoff.

Anatolitis commences in the position on 30 October 2017.

About the author

Gina Fairley covers the Visual Arts nationally for ArtsHub. Based in Sydney you can follow her on Twitter @ginafairley and Instagram at fairleygina.