Karen Quinlan AM announced as new CEO of Arts Centre Melbourne

Karen-Quinlan-AM-courtesy-of-Arts-Centre-MelbourneVictorian Arts Centre Trust President, Ian Carson AM has announced that respected curator, arts administrator and current CEO of the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) in Canberra, Karen Quinlan AM, has been appointed as new CEO of Arts Centre Melbourne.

“We could not be more thrilled that Karen will be joining us as CEO at such a pivotal moment in our history,” said Mr Carson.

Ms Quinlan brings a wealth of senior experience to the role, having held leadership positions at some of Australia’s most revered creative organisations.

She is most recognised for her transformative role as Director of Bendigo Art Gallery from 2000 until 2018, working with international cultural institutions to bring blockbuster exhibitions to regional Victoria, driving cultural tourism and the visitor economy.

Mr Carson said Ms Quinlan stood out as a proven and inspiring leader amongst a very strong field of candidates, resulting from a global search.

“Her strength in working with teams across the arts sector, bringing innovation and fresh thinking to her roles as well as her deep commitment to First Nations people and the principles of diversity and inclusion made her a compelling candidate,” he said. “She possesses an outstanding reputation and is well respected nationally and internationally for her leadership.”

Over the past four years, Quinlan has steered the National Portrait Gallery through a period of change and ambition, and as a result the gallery has markedly extended its reach and profile nationally.

This opportunity to move back to her home state is one that Quinlan will embrace as her stellar career has taken her from Bendigo to the National Capital, Canberra. Quinlan was awarded an Order of Australia medal in 2019 for Services to the Arts.

Ms Quinlan said she was could not be more excited to be joining the Arts Centre Melbourne. “Arts Centre Melbourne is a cultural institution of global significance and is a place that connects performers, artists, makers and presenters,” she said.

“The transformation of the Melbourne Arts Precinct will redefine our experience, engage new audiences and inspire generations to come.”

“As an arts leader I am excited and energised by the prospect of leading the extraordinary team at Art Centre Melbourne, working with Ian Carson AM and the Trust, embracing change and growth, and importantly delivering a world class experience for the community in my hometown!” said Ms Quinlan.

Minister for Creative Industries Steve Dimopoulos welcomed the appointment. “An exceptional creative leader, Karen brings her vast credentials and talent to drive this next pivotal stage for our iconic Arts Centre, playing an important role in the transformation of our arts precinct more broadly,” he said.

“Karen’s ambitious thinking has seen her forge a dynamic career, growing compelling cultural destinations across Australia – her appointment will see one of Victoria’s most significant cultural institutions continue to flourish,” said Minister Dimopoulos.

Mr Carson said the Trust was also excited by Quinlan’s ambition and determination to help Arts Centre Melbourne deliver on its visionary plans to transform its physical buildings for a new generation, and its business operations.

“Karen is also keen to bring our prestigious Australian Performing Arts Collection of more than 700,000 objects to life, diversify audiences and further elevate the reach and impact of our creative learning programs across Victoria,” said Mr Carson.

Before moving to the National Portrait Gallery in the ACT, Quinlan was a Professor of Practice and Director of the La Trobe Art Institute La Trobe University; a former Trustee of the State Library of Victoria; and Board Member and former Chair of the Public Galleries Association of Victoria.

Quinlan has also previously been a board member of the NGV’s Victorian Foundation of Living Australian Artists, and the Melbourne Fashion Festival. Ms Quinlan will commence her role on 3 October.

Mr Carson thanked Arts Centre Melbourne’s leadership team, led by Interim CEO Leanne Lawrence, for progressing the organisation’s change agenda while the recruitment process was undertaken.

“The Trust had every confidence in Leanne and the team to keep the organisation focused on recovery and delivering our new strategy; and they’ve delivered,” said Mr Carson.

Arts Centre Melbourne’s renewal project, Reimagining Arts Centre Melbourne, a central part of the $1.7billion Melbourne Arts Precinct Transformation, is currently underway, fast-tracked by a $241 funding boost announced in November 2021.

It will see the historic State Theatre fully refurbished, with new staging technology, better accessibility, new seats, aisles, studios, Green Room, Stage Door and back of house amenities. For m ore information about Arts Centre Melbourne, visit: www.artscentremelbourne.com.au for details.

Image: Karen Quinlan AM – courtesy of Arts Centre Melbourne