Tuesday 16 August 2016

“ACCELERATE gets your fire, concentrates it and directs it towards your goal” 
– Jacob Boehme, 2014 ACCELERATE participant

Six outstanding Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts professionals have been announced tonight at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre (Melbourne Museum) as the 2016 participants of British Council and Australia Council for the Arts’ annual leadership skills development programme, ACCELERATE. The participants will undergo tailored leadership programs in Australia and each will also travel to the United Kingdom for professional placements and mentoring to develop their chosen creative vocation.

The Australia Council for Arts is a founding partner of the initiative and continues its support in 2016, with the program now in its seventh successful year. ACCELERATE provides Indigenous Australians working within the creative industries with the skills and networks to generate, take up and excel in leadership positions. The programme is aimed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders from across Australia who have at least five years’ experience in the creative industries and can demonstrate a bold vision for where they want to take their career and their community.

This year, the selection panel has identified six mid-career professionals ready to move in to senior leadership roles across the arts and creative industries. The 2016 ACCELERATE programme participants are: 

  • Jilda Andrews – a curator and singer from Australian Capital Territory
  • Kamarra Bell-Wykes – an arts manager and playwright from Victoria
  • Travis De Vries – an arts manager and writer from New South Wales
  • Glenn Iseger-Pilkington – a museums and galleries curator from Western Australia
  • Francoise Lane – a designer from Queensland
  • Jonathon Saunders – an illustrator and arts worker from Northern Territory 

The six participants were selected from a nation-wide call for applications and announced as part of a special celebration held at Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre (Melbourne Museum) on Tuesday 16 August 2016. The event, hosted by actress, writer and director Tammy Anderson, featured a thought-provoking speech by 2014 ACCELERATE alumni and Creative Director of Melbourne Indigenous Arts Festival Jacob Boehme on his ACCELERATE journey and what it has done for his career and creative practice. 

The six ACCELERATE participants will now take part in three days of facilitated workshops to explore their understanding of leadership and further develop ideas for their bespoke UK professional placements.  Delivered by visiting UK expert Mark Wright of People Create Limited, the leadership intensive aims to enhance the participants’ understanding of their own leadership styles as well as providing them with the practical skills necessary to develop their leadership potential.

The group travels to the UK for three weeks in November 2016 to develop their skills in consultation with high-profile individuals and organisations in their artistic fields.

Jacob Boehme says the programme gave him a clearer sense of direction. “The ACCELERATE experience offered me time to really listen to myself and determine exactly what my truth is,” he says. “It provided me with an opportunity to review and identify my goals, accessing steps and strategies to achieve them. I was guided to honestly examine limiting behaviours that were sometimes preventing me from standing in my truth."

Producer and 2015 ACCELERATE participant Angela Flynn says, “It was an incredibly intense programme but in the best possible way. I was able to confront issues that had been troubling me about my career, in a positive proactive manner, with excellent resolutions or at least with progress. But I also realised that I don’t need to have all the answers now as long as I remain focussed on my purpose.”

Writer and playwright Jane Harrison, who took part in ACCELERATE in 2012 says, “ACCELERATE gave me a wider perspective of my artistic practice. As Aboriginal artists we are driven to contribute back to our local communities but the doors that ACCELERATE opened in the UK, the interest in and curiosity about our stories and perspectives, meant that a penny dropped for me; we have something unique and special that the wider world values and wants. We can also contribute to our communities by playing on a world stage. The fabulous cohort is an amazing plus; we are creating our own networked clan of creatives with clout.”

British Council Director Helen O’Neil says, “By the end of this year, ACCELERATE will have been instrumental in shaping the careers of 35 incredibly talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander creative leaders. It has been successful in developing long-lasting links and opportunities between arts practitioners in Australia and the UK and in creating career pathways for future generations. We are extremely pleased to welcome this year’s participants to the ACCELERATE cohort and look forward to seeing how they use the experience to flourish as leaders in their creative disciplines.

Lydia Miller, Executive Director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts at the Australia Council, says, “Keeping culture strong is one of the most universally important human endeavours. It requires recognition and support for the Indigenous cultural leadership and investment in the development of vibrant communities. The Australia Council is pleased to collaborate with the British Council on ACCELERATE as an important platform for First Nations arts leaders to develop their skills and engage in global dialogue.”

ACCELERATE 2016 is presented by the British Council and the Australia Council for the Arts in partnership with Arts NSW, Arts NT, Arts Queensland, Creative Victoria and Department of Culture and the Arts WA with additional support from SBS NITV. 

Notes to Editor


For more information, photographs and interview opportunities, contact:
Jasmine Hersee, jasmine@articulatepr.com.au, 0406 649 393
Kym Elphinstone, kym@articulatepr.com.au, 0421 106 139 




Jilda Andrews works in Programs and Engagement at the National Museum of Australia. She is also currently undertaking PhD research with the Australian National University researching the Opportunities to Add Value to Ethnographic collections in Australian Museums. Jilda has been involved in the cultural sector as a museum and cultural practitioner and proudly advocates for her Yuwaalaraay community in north-western NSW. Jilda’s current work focuses on democratising access to museums for non-traditional audiences and looking for alternative ways to connect collected objects with their country and people. 

As a cultural practitioner, Jilda has performed with the singing groups Freshwater and Biliirr which has given her the opportunity to bring together her research, her connections to country, her Yuwaalaraay language and family through song. Singing together with her sisters she has represented Australia at the Festival of the Pacific Arts in American Samoa, and showcased contemporary Yuwaalaraay culture in places like Kuwait, Lebanon, Cyprus, Egypt, United Arab Emirates and across East Africa. Most recently, she has performed with Biliirr at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC as well as at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University.


Travis is a creative artist and arts professional who works in the position of Programming Assistant at Sydney Opera House, working across the Indigenous, Contemporary Music and Creative Learning Programs. Travis also runs Travis De Vries Art, the creative platform for his new wave, genre spanning Contemporary Indigenous art works and writing projects. 

Prior to the Sydney Opera House, Travis was a Dancer for Bangarra Dance Theatre, collaborating in the choreographic process with Stephen Page, Francis Rings and Elma Kris. In his time at Bangarra he toured across Australia and Internationally to Mongolia and New York performing in The Lincoln Centre as part of The Australian Ballet’s triple bill in 2013. 

Over Travis’ career he has worked across Australia on key Indigenous and Contemporary Music Festivals; Vivid Live, Homeground, GRAPHIC, The Dreaming Festival and The Big Day Out. Travis has also worked on the ground through dance, art and music in numerous Indigenous Communities collaborating on projects to bring more young Aboriginal people to work in the arts. 

Recently Travis has been a finalist in multiple Art Prizes including The NSW Parliament Aboriginal Art Prize and was included in the touring exhibition, he has also curated and produced the inaugural Feast of Sounds Festival showcasing a range of international artists in new collaborations in the regional environment. He currently sits on the RAP group for the Sydney Opera House, helping to drive the major arts centres work in Indigenous Programming.


Jonathon Saunders is a Darwin based Indigenous illustrator and arts worker. Born and raised in Darwin, Jonathon has always had an interest in the visual arts. After completing high school, Jonathon enrolled at Charles Darwin University and studied a Bachelor in Visual Arts, which he completed with Honours. On graduation from tertiary studies Jonathon joined the Arnhem, Northern and Kimberley Aboriginal Corporation (ANKA) where he works to this day, undertaking both lead and support roles assisting Indigenous art centres and arts workers across Northern Australia.Jonathon’s artwork focuses strongly on comic book and superhero iconography and re-contextualizing those images within an Australian urban setting. Jonathon explores the themes of morality, heroism and identity. Jonathon is a 2D animator and illustrator. Working with Clip Studio Paint, which he uses to create his self publishes his web comic ‘Astounding Tales of Hero Fiction’. 2D animation is also a passion of Jonathon’s, utilising Toon Boom Harmony and Storyboard Pro. Jonathon also exhibits around the Darwin and interstate. 

Recently Jonathon returned from Sydney from an internship at Fox Studio Australia working on Ridley Scott's ‘Alien Covenant’ working with the Art Department. He is also developing his own web series with support from Screen Territory and is looking to make the jump to working in the screen industry. 


Francoise Lane is a Torres Strait Islander woman whose maternal family are from Hammond Island. She graduated from QUT with a Bachelor of Built Environment (Interior Design) in 1995. After several years working as a freelance commercial and residential designer and consultant in Alice Springs and Cairns she and her husband Andrew founded Indij Design, a 100% indigenous owned architectural and interior design practice in 2011. 

Based in Gordonvale in Far North Queensland, Indij Design provides architectural, interior design and community engagement services for built environment projects in regional, rural and remote communities, with a focus on encouraging clients to take fresh look at their project needs. 

In recent years Francoise has developed textile designs and surface patterns adapted to repeats. She draws upon inspiration from her contemporary Urban Islander experience and subjects from the tropical landscapes of North Queensland. In 2013 Francoise developed Indij Prints inspired by her connection to the Torres Strait Islands. These bespoke prints are adaptable for interior and architectural application and have been printed to textiles and wallpaper. 

As a designer Francoise has an ability to draw from people their ideas, plans and agendas which proves valuable in the critical brief development stage and community engagement services. As a consultant interior designer some of Francoise projects include the CAAMA Visitor’s Centre Alice Springs NT and ARUP Engineers and Project Managers Cairns Office fitout.


Kamarra Bell-Wykes is a Yagera and Butchulla woman from South-East Queensland as well as descending from South Sea Islander, English, Welsh and Polish blood lines. Kamarra started her career as a performer and playwright over 15 years ago, and received the prestigious Greenroom Gerda Nicholson Emerging Actress Award in 2003 for her role of Ann in Stolen

Kamarra has written a number of award winning health-education shows including Chopped Liver, Body Armor and North West of Nowhere, commissioned specifically to educate around issues as such as intravenous drug use, body modification and Hepatitis C. These plays were written specifically for prison, school and Aboriginal community audiences, to empower the de-marginalized and inform the mainstream. Chopped Liver and Body Armour combined toured over 8 years and were seen by more than 25,000 people across Australia. Her other works Shrunken Iris, Mothers Tongue and Crying Shame were analytical examinations of spiritual fracturing and how it manifests in physical ways. 

In 2012 Kamarra graduated from the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education with her Bachelor of Teaching and Learning and was awarded an honor in 'Recognising and Responding to Diversity in the Classroom'. Kamarra then worked as a teacher and youth worker in a number of communities in the Northern Territory. In 2014 Kamarra was returned to ILBIJERRI Theatre Company as Education and Learning Manager where has been working to build the MARGUK program. Kamarra is now moving into dramaturgy with her first placement on Melodie Reynolds Skylab, supported by Playwriting Australia. 


Glenn Iseger is a Wadjarri, Nhanda and Nyoongar man and a member of a Dutch and Scottish migrant family. He spent the first half of his life living in the Kimberley region of Western Australia and has since 1994 lived on Nyoongar Country in the South West corner of Western Australia and currently resides in Perth.

Glenn undertook his formal art training at the School of Contemporary Art, Edith Cowan University, majoring in Printmaking and has worked within the visual arts and museum sectors over the last decade as an arts development officer, curator, advisor and advocate for Indigenous Australian art and culture. Glenn is also an author and is passionate about writing on subject matters which include contemporary Indigenous art, identity, colonisation, history and lived experience. Glenn recently guest co-edited Artlink Indigenous ‘Blackground’ with his friend and colleague Carly Lane. 

In August 2014, and after a short period of time in the role of Project Officer Indigenous Arts at the Department of Culture and the Arts, Glenn took up the role of Curator Content Development, New Museum Project at the Western Australian Museum. Glenn is working on developing content for the new Western Australian museum, set to open in 2020. Prior to this Glenn held the position of Associate Curator of Indigenous Objects and Photography at the Art Gallery of Western Australia (2007-2014).  Whilst at the Gallery Glenn was involved in the curatorial development of the major International exhibition 'Van Gogh, Dalí and Beyond: The World Reimagined' in partnership with the Museum of Modern Art, and also in the development of 'Desert River Sea: Kimberley Art Then & Now', a significant visual arts initiative working with artists across the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Glenn curated the prestigious 'Western Australian Indigenous Art Awards' on two occasions and been involved in other significant projects such as 'Larraktij: The Kerry Stokes Collection' and 'Culture Warriors: The National Indigenous Art Triennial'.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We promote a friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and people worldwide, making a positive contribution to all the countries we work with and, in doing so, making a lasting difference to the UK's security, prosperity and influence.  We work in more than 100 countries and our 8,000 staff work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people across arts, education and science every year.

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