Current Issue #488

Adelaide Festival reveals new head

Elaine Chia
Adelaide Festival
Elaine Chia

Sydney arts industry veteran Elaine Chia will take over as Adelaide Festival’s executive director following the retirement of Rob Brookman AM next year.

Brookman announced his plan to exit the role back in October, set to take effect following the conclusion of the festival’s 60th anniversary program in February and March next year.

Chia comes to the role from a three-year run as CEO of Sydney’s City Recital Hall, the latest entry in a very long CV that includes stints with the Australia Council for the Arts, Australia’s Venice Art Biennale contingent, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, the Heide Museum of Modern Art and the Australian Youth Orchestra.

“The Adelaide Festival is known the world over as one of the best, and has defined Adelaide as a city of artistic pilgrimage,” Chia says of her new employer. “I vividly recall my first Adelaide Festival experience in 1996. I’m thrilled to join such an eminent team in leading it into its next exciting phase, and also looking forward to making Adelaide my new home.”

Chia has also worked as Business Manager for Sydney’s Belvoir Street Theatre, where she first crossed paths with current Adelaide Festival Artistic Directors Neal Armfield and Rachel Healy, who spent close to a decade helming the company together as artistic director and general manager respectively. Unsurprisingly, the pair are looking forward to recreating this leadership triptych on the much bigger stage of the Adelaide Festival.

“We are absolutely delighted with the appointment of Elaine Chia to this central leadership role at the Adelaide Festival,” the pair said in a statement. “We both worked with Elaine twenty years ago when she was employed as Business Manager at Belvoir Street Theatre in Sydney. Even at that early stage in her career she impressed us with her intellect, warmth, tenacity and instinct for building relationships between artists and audiences.”

Chia will begin in her new role in April 2020.

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Walter Marsh

Walter Marsh

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Walter is a writer and editor living on Kaurna Country.

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