Sexton to farewell Next Wave Festival on a high

Emily Sexton oncFollowing the artistic and financial success of the 2014 Next Wave Festival, Artistic Director and co-CEO, Emily Sexton will finish with the organisation in early August.

After a four year tenure, Sexton leaves a legacy of increases in funding, audiences and a $1.45m turnover, as well as introducing a brand new Festival model, including the game-changing curated day passes.

“In 2010 we selected Emily from a highly competitive field of applicants. Since then she together with co-CEO Paul Gurney have delivered nothing short of exceptional results,” said Next Wave Chair, Janenne Willis.

“Emily’s leadership has inspired the Next Wave team to realise the transformative organisational goals we set out some four years back. A period marked by significant financial and audience growth, newfound diversity of artists and audiences, and a reinvigorated organisational culture.”

“Emily’s passion, courage and unparalleled capacity to articulate complex new ideas has seen her develop into one of this country’s most impressive young leaders.”

Joining the organisation in 2010, during Sexton’s tenure Next Wave Festival has evolved to become a dynamic festival of ideas and debate, alongside a sophisticated presentation of contemporary art by emerging artists from Australia and across the globe.

A passionate explorer of new festival models and experimental approaches to audience engagement, Sexton pioneered Next Wave’s now signature curated day passes, day-long journeys through the Festival and its host city, Melbourne.

Expanding the scope of an arts festival, Sexton also curated and launched three publications, including two Next Wave Magazines and critically-acclaimed BLAK WAVE book, a composite of Indigenous art making, thoughts and ideas. An active voice on Next Wave’s online platforms, Sexton has seen the organisation’s social following quadruple to an audience of 20,000+ during her time at Next Wave.

Sexton’s time with the organisation has been distinguished by significant international and national partnerships via the Australia Council, IETM, British Council, Wheeler Centre and Fierce Festival (UK), amongst others. These have resulted in substantial increases in funds to support emerging artists’ works, with Next Wave’s 2014 annual turnover reaching $1.45m.

“I’m very proud to be leaving Next Wave on such a high, with Australia’s massively talented emerging artists achieving international recognition for their extraordinary work,” said outgoing Next Wave Artistic Director, Emily Sexton.

“Next Wave is a truly amazing organisation, where I’ve been supported to experiment with big ideas, at the same time as supporting artists to do the same. I have learnt so much about the role of art and artists in contemporary life, and the significant change that can be enacted by innovative cultural leadership. My extra special thanks go to Executive Director Paul Gurney, and the Next Wave Board, for their smarts, imagination and heartfelt passion for new ideas”

For her final edition of the Next Wave Festival Sexton presented a program of 38 newly commissioned works by emerging artists from across Australia, the Philippines, Korea, Lebanon, Canada and the UK.

The Festival’s keynote initiative, BLAK WAVE saw a highly regarded collection of contemporary art by seven Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists be presented alongside a robust and sold-out talks series, and the publishing of a new book exploring the future of Indigenous art.

Next Wave is now recruiting for a passionate and curious individual to lead the organisation towards the 2016 Next Wave Festival as its new Artistic Director and co-CEO. Applications from across Australia and overseas are welcome and due 5pm AEST Friday 13 June 2014. 

For more information, interested applicants should head to: for details.

Image: Emily Sexton