Creative Australia praises retiring Board members

Since its establishment over 50 years’ ago the Australia Council has been a proud and passionate champion of arts and creativity which benefits all Australians. It is an honour to serve the Australian arts and creative sector, and none of this could happen without the dedication and professionalism of our staff and board.

As we prepare to become Creative Australia, it is timely to recognise and congratulate current members of the Australia Council’s Board, and in particular the four outgoing members who have made an outstanding contribution.

“This is a group of talented and passionate people who have deep knowledge of the broader creative industries, from arts professionals and journalists to a recent state arts minister. They helped steer the Australia Council through the pandemic and encouraged its re-imagining as Creative Australia,” said Chair, Robert Morgan. “In significant ways, they helped lay the foundation for our transition to Creative Australia.”

The four retiring board members are:

Leigh Carmichael

Leigh has served on the board of the Australia Council since October 2016 and is also the long serving, founding Creative Director of Tasmania’s Dark Mofo Festival.

Voted as one of Australia’s top ten most powerful people in culture by the Australian Financial Review Magazine, Leigh is a fearless advocate for artistic freedom and expression, which both challenges and engages a broad community of interests. Leigh has been a knowledgeable and incisive creative leader on the board.

Mario D’Orazio

Mario has been a member of the Australia Council Board since March 2019. He has more than 40 years’ experience in media as a journalist. This includes print media, radio, and TV as a reporter, presenter and executive producer of news, current affairs and lifestyle programs.

Mario was managing director of Channel 7 Perth for more than seven years and has wide experience on commercial and not-for-profit boards, including government, education, and the arts.

Currently, he is a board member of the ABC, the WA Academy of Performing Art, and chairs the board of the Heart Foundation, and the Perth Public Art Foundation. Mario has brought great industry insight and intelligence to our endeavours and will continue as a member of Creative Australia’s Multi-Year Investment Finance & Governance Advisory Panel.

The Hon. Don Harwin

Don has served on the Board of the Australia Council since March 2022 and was the NSW Minister for the Arts for five years prior to the 2023 NSW state election.

He served in the NSW Parliament for 23 years in a range of roles, including 6 years as President of the Legislative Council. During this time, he secured over $2.5 billion in funding for over 150 cultural infrastructure projects including the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall upgrade, Walsh Bay re-development, Sydney Modern at AGNSW, the Powerhouse Museums at Parramatta, Ultimo and Castle Hill, and the Bundanon Art Museum. He also secured the future of the National Arts School and the Theatre Royal Sydney.

Don Harwin has always been passionate, knowledgeable, and committed to the sector, both in his time on the Board and during his time in the NSW Parliament.

Marie-Louise Theile

Marie-Louise has been a member of the Australia Council Board since March 2022. She is a former journalist and TV news presenter having worked in print and electronic media in Australia and New York for over 20 years. Initially working in newspapers in Australia, she worked for Elle Magazine and then as an international newspaper bureau journalist in New York. Upon her return to Australia in 1989 she commenced her career as a television journalist working at the ABC. She worked as a news presenter for the Ten Network in Brisbane and Melbourne from 1991 to 2007.

Currently Marie-Louise is Creative Director of New Initiative, a niche branding marketing and place making creative agency that evolved out of her previous role with the James Street Initiative. These entities focus on developing and promoting unique inner city precinct renewal projects.

Marie-Louise has been on the Australian Chamber Orchestra Event Committee since 1999 and was a regular chairperson at the Brisbane Writers Festival from 2006 – 2012. Her service to the Board was heartfelt and appreciated.

“The board thanks Leigh, Mario, Don, and Marie-Louise for their contributions to the Australia Council over recent years. Each has generously served the creative sector, and we are the better for their service,” said Mr. Morgan.

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