Our people

As at January 2022, the expertise of the Childers Group: an independent arts forum is as follows. (We respectfully ask that artists, arts groups and arts organisations do not send complimentary tickets to the Childers Group.)

MICHAEL WHITE – coordinator

Michael has been involved in the arts as a theatre practitioner and advocate for over 40 years. He studied Drama at Flinders University and graduated with a BA (Hons) in Drama (Performance) in 1973. In 1979 he moved to Canberra and worked as an actor with the Jigsaw Theatre in Education Company and Canberra Youth Theatre. In 1981 Michael moved to the UK and found work in theatre-in-education projects in Wales. In 1983 he returned to Canberra and worked here as a freelance actor and then moved to Melbourne where he worked as freelance film technician with Crawford Television. In 1987 Michael was a co-founder of the Melbourne Workers Theatre, a theatre company that was funded under the Australia Council’s Art in Working Life Policy. In 1989 Michael returned to Canberra where he worked again as a freelance actor and also joined the ACT Arts Council and worked as a Community Arts Officer. Over the years he has worked as a performer with State Theatre Company of SA, Junction Theatre Company (SA), Canberra Theatre Company, People Next Door (ACT) and the ABC. In 1993 he commenced work in Canberra as an Industrial Officer for the Actors Equity Section of the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) the trade union that covers performers and all those who work in the media and entertainment industries. (He had joined Actors Equity in 1974.) In 2000 he became ACT Branch Secretary of the union and he left MEAA in July 2014 after 21 years. During his time at MEAA he also served on the ACT Cultural Council, the ACT Government’s arts advisory body.


Canberra born and bred, Ben Drysdale is an Actor, Director, Drama Tutor, Musician, Events Coordinator, with over 15 years experience producing a broad range of professional and community arts projects in Canberra.  Ben completed a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and English at ANU in 2005. As part of this degree he completed a 2-year Acting, Voice and Movement program at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Since returning to Australia he has worked as a musician, actor, director, producer and community arts events coordinator both independently, and in conjunction with community organizations.Ben’s professional theatre credits include The Give and Take (Street Theatre 2007), Out of Our Minds (Belconnen Theatre 2010), Heart of a Dog (Street Theatre 2014), and Under Sedation (Street Theatre 2016). Ben has worked as an actor, director and producer on a range of community-based arts projects including Imperfectly Sane (2007), Imperfectly Sane Too (2008), which were theatre projects funded by the Mental Health Foundation, the The Hunting Season (2008) funded by the Foundation for Young Australians, and The Mindscapes Festival (2013-2016) in partnership with Belconnen Community Service and the Mental Health Community Coalition.

Since starting Rebus Theatre in 2013 with a mixed ability team of professional and amateur actors, Ben has performed as a professional actor in the creative development Fractured (2016), and on numerous occasions delivering Rebus’ forum theatre-based workplace training, has taught numerous drama workshops and classes, and worked as producer and director on All In (2016), Open Doors Open Minds (2018), Moving Climates (2018), Access All Areas: Health and Access All Areas: Justice (2019).

Ben is also a musician and performed locally, Nationally and Internationally as a solo artist as well as fronting a number of Canberra bands including Smitten, Beth n Ben, and East Row Rabble playing festivals such as the National Folk Festival, Stonefest, Northern Beaches Music Festival, Bondi Love Jam, Summer Rhythm Festival, and Corinbank. He has performed on bills with international stars such as Paul Kelly, The Waifs, and Chris Isaak.


Julie Dyson was National Director of the Australian Dance Council  Ausdance for 28 years. Her work has included development of Ausdance policy for dance in Australia, advice to funding bodies, government departments, companies and individual artists and she has initiated innovative partnerships to promote and support Australian dance with organisations outside the dance. In 2008 she co-produced, with the Australia Council, Dance Plan 2012, and in 2011 she co-edited the Routledge publication Shaping the Landscape – Celebrating Dance in Australia. Julie continues to chair the National Advocates for Arts Education, and is on the advisory panels for Sydney Dance Company’s education program, the Australian Dance Awards and the 2013 National Dance Forum. Julie is a member of the World Dance Alliance global executive, and secretary of the WDA’s Asia Pacific region. Awards include the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Award for Administration (1994), and the Australian Dance Awards for Services to Dance (2000) and Lifetime Achievement (2004). Julie was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2007.


Meredith Hinchliffe has been involved with the arts since 1977 when she began work with the Crafts Council of the ACT. As part of the CCACT exhibition program she curated many exhibitions including several of individual artists and group exhibitions.  These included all craft media – ceramics, wood, textiles, leather, metalwork and, to a lesser degree, glass.  Craft ACT was included in some touring exhibitions and during her time at the organisation, Meredith showed an exhibition of Molas from the San Blas Islands of Panama. Meredith was a contributor to The Canberra Times from 1978 to 2009 and writes review articles of crafts and visual arts exhibitions and books.  She also writes about issues of importance to the arts.  She has written articles about for a number of journals, including the National Library News, Smarts, Pottery in Australia, Craft Arts  International, Textile Fibre Forum, Object and Ceramic Art and Perception. Meredith worked at The Australian Bicentennial Authority, artsACT and Business Development in the ACT Government.  She was responsible for grant programs in each area.

Meredith Hinchliffe was appointed the full-time Executive Director of the National Campaign for the Arts Australia Ltd in July 1996, until the organisation was wound up due to lack of funding in August 1997.  During this period she built up a strong network of media contacts and assisted with the successful campaign for Artbank to be retained as a government operation. From August 1997 to December 1999 she worked as a freelance consultant. In 2000 Meredith began an appointment for two years as Project Manager, Australian Science Teachers Association. She was appointed Executive Officer of Museums Australia, the national professional association for museum workers and museums in July 2002. She worked as Public Arts Project Officer for artsACT and has managed several public art installation projects. From July 2008 to April 2009 she was the inaugural Executive Officer of the Donald Horne Institute for Cultural Heritage at the University of Canberra.

Meredith has served on the boards of a number of local arts organisations and was President of Ausdance ACT until May 2011. She is approved to value Australian ceramics, glass, textiles, jewellery, leatherwork, wooden objects and furniture from 1950 for the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program and has undertaken numerous valuations of works in most media, including the valuation of the Tamworth Regional Gallery’s textile collection. Meredith has been involved in a number of projects, including curating the Survey exhibition of the Tamworth Fibre Textile Collection in 2010. In 2000 she was awarded an ACT Women’s Award in recognition of her significant contribution to the ACT community in the arts.  In 2011 she was awarded an Australia Day medal by the National Gallery of Australia.


Born in Adelaide of Arrente, Chinese and Anglo-Celtic descent, Kemarre skin, Jenni Kemarre Martiniello holds a Batchelor of Arts (Visual Arts), Canberra School of Art (now Canberra Institute of the Arts, ANU). Jenni commenced working in glass in 2008 at Canberra Glassworks, and has completed workshops with Klaus Moje, Kirstie Rea, Simon Maberley, Luna Ryan, Sue Kesteven, Itzell Tazzyman, Ruth Oliphant and Jeremy Lepisto. Jenni has been the recipient of  many significant awards, and has a long track record as an exhibiting artist. Her work is in many major collections including National Gallery of Australia, National Museum of Australia, Canberra Museum and Gallery, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Australian Parliament House Collection, National Art Glass Collection, ACT Legislative Assembly, University of Newcastle, Bonner School ACT, National Museum of Belau, National Art Galley of the Solomon Islands,. Corning Museum of Glass USA, British Museum, UK.


Alison is a dance and physical theatre artist, choreographer, teacher, improviser and site dance maker. Her work communicates contemporary issues, human stories and explores the interface of physical performance with other art forms presented in non-traditional theatre spaces. Alison is invested in the development of quality performance created and presented in the ACT and regional Australia, building sustainable arts and cultural appreciation, participation and relevance in contemporary Australian society.

Originally from Bathurst, NSW, Alison graduated from WAAPA with a first class honours degree, Bachelor of Arts – Dance, in 2009. She has since established regional Bathurst-based dance and physical theatre company, Lingua Franca, with Adam Deusien. The company toured their debut work Right Behind You to Canberra, Brisbane and Wirksworth Festival, UK in 2013. In 2016 Lingua Franca will present their new work Unsustainable Behaviour at ArtLands, the biennial Regional Arts Conference to be held in Dubbo.

Alison is active in producing platforms to increase employment for artists and for audiences to experience and enjoy quality live contemporary art. She is co-founder/producer of annual Canberra choreographic lab strange attractor and Live Art Party Sound and Fury. Similarly she works in arts education and youth performing arts with Lingua Franca, with QL2 Dance and with Canberra Youth Theatre where she tutors and directs/creates new work. Alison received a Canberra Critic’s Circle Award for her ‘tour de force’ solo performance in Johnny Castellano is Mine in 2014, a Creative Young Stars Award in 2013, Most Outstanding Choreography and Best Female Dancer for Short + Sweet Dance 2013, is an ArtStart Recipient (Australia Council for the Arts, 2012) and a recipient of a ‘StartUp’ Arts Grant (artsACT, 2011).

An avid collaborator, her recent work includes Craft ACT commission Body Illumination with musician, Alex Voorhoeve and jeweller, Simon Cottrell and with Prime Minister’s Literary Award for poetry winner, Melinda Smith, for Canberra Slambouree. In 2015 she performed Dancing with Drones at LiveWorks Carriageworks (SYD), a collaboration with film/new media artists Starrs and Cmielewski. In 2016, as she works to develop performance collective, The Australian Dance Party, she will create and present new works Autumn Lantern at Enlighten Festival, SPROUT at Art Not Apart and You Are Here, and Nervous at Mt. Stromlo Observatory.


Professor Williams is currently Emeritus Professor in the ANU Research School of Humanities and the Arts.  Previous appointments: Director ANU School of Art 1985-2006, Director ,Crafts Board Australia Council 1978-1986, Lecturer, Melbourne State College 1974-1978, Craft Consultant Australia Council 1977, Art Advisor Victorian Art Branch 1971-73, various primary and secondary art teaching appointments 1961-1971 including supply teaching in London 1968.  Other key positions previously held: Chair ACT Arts Development Board; ACT Cultural Council; Australia National Capital Artists ANCA; member Australia Council VACB International Committee; Asialink Visual Arts Committee; Queensland Art Gallery National Advisory (Curatorial) Committee APT Asia Pacific Triennial Exhibition of Contemporary Art; Canberra Parliament House Art Advisory Committee; Executive member and Chair Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools ACUADS; member and Chair various University examination and Review Committees (Australian and overseas). Current positions: Member Fulbright National Selection Committee; ANU Public Art Committee; ANU Drill Hall Gallery and Campus Planning and Development Committees. Chair, Art Monthly Australia Board; Chair, ANU Foundation for the Visual Arts; Chair, Gordon Institute of TAFE Art and Design Academic Board; Deputy Chair, Canberra Glassworks.

David’s research interests focus on contemporary Australian and Asian Visual Art. A major project completed at the end of 2009 was the production of the book The ANU School of Art: a History of the First 65 Years. Other key work includes development for the RSHA Art and Human Rights theme exhibitions with Caroline Turner Recovering Lives and Witness To Silence. For the ARC Australian Ballet/University of Adelaide/National Library of Australia Linkage project he was the curator of exhibitions at the Art Gallery of South Australia and the Adelaide Festival Centre. In 2009 he commissioned visual arts essays for the 2011 publication addressing the cultural impact of the Ballet Russes tours in Australia in the 1930s. He is a regular contributor to the RSHA seminar and conference programs.  Awards: In 2004, Professor Williams was awarded the Chevalier in the Order of Arts and Letters from the French Ministry of Culture and Communications and in Oct 2006 was presented with the ACUADS Distinguished Fellowship Award. In the June 2007 Queens Birthday Honours list, he was made a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for services to the arts as an educator and administrator. In March 2008, he was presented with the Australia Council Visual Arts Board Emeritus medal recognising an outstanding contribution to the arts and cultural sector.


We acknowledge and heartily thank the following Childers Group members for their generous arts advocacy work during their time with us: Ruth O’Brien, Melinda Smith, Stephen Cassidy, Alexander Boynes, Peter White, Dianna Nixon, Evol McLeod, Nigel Featherstone, Jack Lloyd, Anita McIntyre, Caroline Stacey, Rosanna Stevens, Michael Tear, Peter Bayliss, James Fahey and Allan Sko.

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