AusCoSupport Material 1

Bhenji Ra and Angela Goh performance at  Rogue Agents , 2017, Firstdraft, Sydney, curated by Auto Italia South East (UK)

Bhenji Ra and Angela Goh performance at Rogue Agents, 2017, Firstdraft, Sydney, curated by Auto Italia South East (UK)

Lisa Havilah

Chief Executive, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences; Advisory Committee Member 2012 - current

“I have been a member of Firstdraft’s Advisory Committee since 2012 and during this time I have experienced the organisation go from strength to strength with the crucial support of multi-year funding from the Australia Council for the Arts.

Initiatives launched in this period have positioned Firstdraft as a leader in the visual arts sector. Their extraordinary partnership with UK based artist-run initiative Auto-Italia South East has broadened the organisation's international reach; the development of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy has given rise to the First Nations Curator Program; memberships with CAOA and All Conference networks have strengthened their voice at the centre of the national arts conversation; and the pioneering practice of paying artist fees has set them apart amongst other artist run initiatives in Australia, many who have since followed suit.  

Firstdraft is an organisation of national importance, providing significant opportunities for early-career artists, curators, writers and arts professionals, whilst bridging the crucial point between ARIs/small arts organisation and larger institutions. Their strong community and audience base is testament to the dedicated and professional staff and board who have served over the organisation’s 33 year history. Firstdraft continually present an ambitious and innovative artistic program, which positions artists first. This commitment has been strengthened in the past four years with multi-year funding support, which has given the organisation stability to realise its potential. 

In 2019 Firstdraft is committed to providing the best possible support to participants in their artistic program, whilst continually looking to the future for new ways to develop and adapt to the changing arts ecology. With an increasingly diverse representation of artists, writers, curators and arts workers involved in Firstdraft programs, I look forward to supporting the important national contribution that Firstdraft makes to the emerging visual arts sector in our country.”


Jodie Whalen

Firstdraft exhibition program 2016; Recipient of Firstdraft x Goulburn Regional Art Gallery partnership 2018

“Working with Firstdraft has been greatly important for my professional development as an early career artist. I have always felt supported as an artist through their professionalism with exhibitions, public programming and residency opportunities. Since presenting new work (solo exhibition) at Firstdraft in 2015, I have also had the opportunity to partake in a residency program and delivering a panel discussion on the importance of art education through Firstdraft as an organisation. Lots of support and opportunities through several avenues of professional development. This in turn has lead to a stronger network of arts practitioners and professionals and has introduced my practice and work to a wide audience.

Since my exhibition at Firstdraft I have developed and presented new work for group and solo exhibitions nationally. Along with partaking in other professional development opportunities including inclusion as a finalist in the 2018 Visual Arts Fellowship at Artspace, Sydney. The Firstdraft community is invaluable to the landscape of artists and arts practitioners. They are incredibly professional, providing excellent support for exhibiting artists, creating a wide range of professional opportunities for arts practitioners and contributing in a huge way to the landscape of Australian arts and culture.”

Jodie Whalen,  Declaration of Love , 2016, Firstdraft, Sydney. Photo Zan Wimberley

Jodie Whalen, Declaration of Love, 2016, Firstdraft, Sydney. Photo Zan Wimberley


EO Gill

Firstdraft Director (2016-17); Firstdraft exhibition program 2015

“I was on the Firstdraft board of directors from 2016-2017. As an artist at the early stage of my career my position on the Firstdraft board gave me opportunity to form professional relationships and to understand the value of community for emerging artists. During my time at Firstdraft I learnt the importance of Artist Run Initiative’s (ARI’s) in giving a platform to underrepresented and emerging practices. It taught me how to take responsibility in ensuring the organisation proactively builds and maintains a critical, ambitious and experimental program. It was such a privilege to be a director at Firstdraft, Australia’s oldest ARI as I was responsible for upholding the organisations’ original mandate and for helping to shape and guide the organisation into the future. I had my very first exhibition at Firstdraft in 2014 and I consider it to be a formative moment for my professional development as an artist. Since leaving Firstdraft I have been awarded the 2018 NSW Visual Arts Emerging Fellowship.”

What Would A Feminist Methodology Sound Like?  2016, curated by Frances Barrett and Danni Zuvela, Firstdraft, Sydney

What Would A Feminist Methodology Sound Like? 2016, curated by Frances Barrett and Danni Zuvela, Firstdraft, Sydney

Frances Barrett

Firstdraft Gallery and Studio Manager (2010-2013); Firstdraft curators program 2015; Firstdraft exhibition program 2016; Firstdraft public program 2016

“I have been involved with Firstdraft as an artist (Ship of Fools, 2009), curator (Haunting, 2015 and FM[X]: What Does a Feminist Methodology Sound Like?, 2016) and as the inaugural employee (Gallery and Studio Manager 2010-2013). As such, it has offered me exceptional professional opportunities over the past 10 years. Firstdraft is not only a site to cut your teeth as an artist or arts worker, it is a community which we invest in. Firstdraft has built around it an intergenerational community of artists, musicians, poets, writers, curators, and dancers who inspire and excite me. I consider the Australia Council for the Arts multi-year funding enabled Firstdraft to strengthen it's organisational model and build a clear and ambitious creative vision. Because of this, Firstdraft provides an emerging practitioner the critical support that no other ARIs in Australia can offer.”


Spence Messih

Firstdraft Director (2016-17); Recipient of Firstdraft x Auto Italia South East (UK) partnership 2019

“Firstdraft's program of exhibitions and events is deeply responsive to and connected with the creative community in Sydney - continuously seeking to create new connections, maintain community and provide people with numerous opportunities to develop their own careers in a professional and supportive environment.”

Alair Pambeghan,  Walkaln-aw , 2017, Firstdraft, Sydney. Photo Zan Wimberley

Alair Pambeghan, Walkaln-aw, 2017, Firstdraft, Sydney. Photo Zan Wimberley


Consuelo Cavaniglia

Firstdraft Director (2016-17); Firstdraft curators program 2015

“Before joining the board of directors in 2016, Firstdraft supported my first solo exhibition in Sydney shortly after relocating here from Perth, and later through the emerging curator’s program supported my ongoing curatorial work. The openness and inclusivity of the program gave me an opportunity when my work was unknown locally and allowed me to make connections to the community. As a director I strengthened these connections to the broad community of emerging practitioners that Firstdraft supports, informing my role as guest curator of the John Fries Award in 2017-18, which along with being a peer assessor for Australia Council grants on the emerging and experimental panel allowed me to continue to engage with and support a community of practitioners who are vital, dynamic and form the next generation of cultural practitioners.”


Lisa Sammut

Firstdraft exhibition program 2014 & 2018

“Firstdraft has been hugely important to the development of my professional practice. With their unwavering support, I have realised my most ambitious projects, leading to further opportunities and invitations to participate in exciting curatorial projects at both regional museums and galleries interstate.

For emerging artists like myself, Firstdraft is a critical stepping stone towards establishing a sustainable practice. Having worked with Firstdraft on multiple occasions, I can attest that the dynamic program and community here fosters an inspiring environment for the development of new work, experimentation and conversation that is completely unique within the Sydney arts scene.”

Lisa Sammut,  a monumental echo , 2018, Firstdraft, Sydney. Photo Zan Wimberley

Lisa Sammut, a monumental echo, 2018, Firstdraft, Sydney. Photo Zan Wimberley


Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran

Firstdraft exhibition program 2012

“I strongly believe Firstdraft is a vital organisation within Australia’s art ecology. I would say it is the most important artist run organisation in Australia. In the past few years, I have travelled extensively across the country for exhibition opportunities. I also lecture at UNSW Art & Design where I routinely engage with emerging practice. When engaging with emerging artists in these contexts, they describe Firstdraft as an aspirational venue to position their experimental work. I had my first solo exhibition at Firstdraft in 2012. This feels like a lifetime ago, but it was a pivotal moment in my career. It was the first time I exhibited outside of a student context and thought broadly about installation as a practice. Recently, I have noticed that the programming at Firstdraft is risky and culturally responsive. I am impressed with their focus on artist development and investment in the most urgent issues of our time.”

Rosie Deacon and Emily Crockford in  Paired , 2018, Firstdraft, Sydney, curated by Harriet Body. Photo Zan Wimberley

Rosie Deacon and Emily Crockford in Paired, 2018, Firstdraft, Sydney, curated by Harriet Body. Photo Zan Wimberley

Harriet Body

Firstdraft curators program 2018

“I had an extremely positive experience working with firstdraft on my curated exhibition ‘Paired’. The exhibition was showcasing collaborative projects between artists with and without intellectual disability and the Firstdraft team was so accomodating in providing extra access support for those who needed it - including setting aside a ‘quiet space’ and providing travel allowances for carers. Showing at such a esteemed gallery as Firstdraft meant that the exhibition was promoted and reviewed widely by the media, and has also lead to more opportunities including a potential for the show to tour regionally and has open conversations with an international disability arts organisation about further development. Thank you so much Firstdraft!”


Megan Kennedy

Firstdraft exhibition program 2019

“Firstdraft was really one of the best exhibition experiences I’ve had to date! The space is beautiful, the opening was so well promoted and attended and the staff that work at the gallery are amazing at what they do! From the application process right through to deinstall everything ran without a hitch and I felt entirely supported and at ease. Firstdraft is an amazing gallery and I think that can be attributed to the passionate and tireless staff within it.”


Cybele Cox

Firstdraft exhibition program 2017

“My solo exhibition at Firstdraft in 2017 put me on the map of the Sydney Art scene. It provided exposure to a much larger audience and many professional opportunities, such as artist talks and meeting with collectors and curators who knew my work from this show. Since then I held a one year residency at the prestigious Artspace Studios. I have shown at Lismore Regional Gallery, been curated into the Ideas Platform at Artspace and participated in the MCA Artbar. I find the programming at Firstdraft amazing and the team to be organised and helpful. The spaces are some of the best in Sydney. The funding for the show contributes to a successful outcome. Firstdraft is one of the most important Sydney art platforms, for diverse and emerging art-practise. It is well located in the CBD and I always make going to their events a priority.”

Do You Know This Feeling?  2019, Firstdraft, Sydney, curated by Sebastian Henry-Jones. Photo Zan Wimberley

Do You Know This Feeling? 2019, Firstdraft, Sydney, curated by Sebastian Henry-Jones. Photo Zan Wimberley


Elyas Alavi

Recipient of Next Wave X (VIC), Ace Open (SA), Firstdraft co-commission 2018

“Being granted the opportunity to have my first solo show in Sydney at Firstdraft was a significant stepping stone in my career. As an emerging artist working in visual art and performance, it was an unparalleled opportunity for me to produce and present a significant body of new work for the Firstdraft, Next Wave X, and Ace Open co-commission program for 2018.

I believe that Firstdraft is one of the most comprehensive platforms in Australia for emerging and early career artists which welcomes taking creative risks. With the support of Firstdraft, I was able to create critical and challenging new work, gaining new audiences, networks, national exposure and professional experience.”


Pamela Arce

Firstdraft exhibition program 2018

“In January 2018, prior to my relocation from Lima to Melbourne, I opened my first solo show in Australia as part Firstdraft’s exhibition program. This process represented a pivotal point in my career and instantly made me feel part of Australia’s contemporary art community. Thanks to the public program Firstdraft curated to accompany the show, I was provided the space and time to interact with my audience and articulate dialogues around the work. For me, Firstdraft is a unique example of best practices and excellent organisation, all with a caring and professional team at the heart of it.”

Pamela Arce,  Trust the Flesh , 2018, Firstdraft, Sydney. Photo Zan Wimberley

Pamela Arce, Trust the Flesh, 2018, Firstdraft, Sydney. Photo Zan Wimberley


Shivanjani Lal

Firstdraft exhibition program 2018

“My experience with Firstdraft and bringing an exhibition of emerging women artists from India, was a wonderful experience. The team were really supportive and even though we didn't get additional funding to bring the women over. We managed to do a really great job in figuring out ways to make them present. From recording videos of them talking about the work, an audio curatorial walkthrough and having them to do a Facebook chat so they could participate in the artists talks. These artists were put front and centre even though they were never on site. The team also made sure that I was supported as a curator and gave me additional time to give justice to the install. For me the experience grew me both as an artist and a curator and allowed me to share a positive experience with artists from India.”

Stelly G performance at  The Final Edit: TECH-KNOW-NATURES,  2018, Firstdraft, Sydney, curated by Troppo Galaktika. Photo Lexi Lephor

Stelly G performance at The Final Edit: TECH-KNOW-NATURES, 2018, Firstdraft, Sydney, curated by Troppo Galaktika. Photo Lexi Lephor

Samia Sayed

Firstdraft writers program 2019; Firstdraft public program 2018

“I have worked with Firstdraft in many capacities as a solo artist and recently as part of a collective (Troppo Galaktika). Troppo Galaktika was commissioned to curate Firstdraft's end of year party in 2018 (Final Edit: Tech-Know Natures). Being given the financial support and creative agency to curate a event really helped us continue a platform for emerging queer indigenous and people of colour artists. With the help of the board and staff we hosted an enjoyable, safe and successful end of year party. The 2019 programming includes a diverse group of artists of which i am proud to be in as part of the Writer’s residency. Firstdraft is a critical part of Sydney's society, directed and run by artists this initiative really supports and holds a safe space for folks to step into their career as art-makers and creators.”


Cindy Yuen-Zhe Chen

Firstdraft exhibition program 2019

“The warmth and professionalism of the team at Firstdraft made this one of the most enjoyable and rewarding exhibiting experiences I've had so far. Rigorous programming, and excellent technical, organisational and marketing support, make Firstdraft one of the most valuable arts organisations for artists in Australia.”


Roberta Rich

Firstdraft exhibition program 2019

“Exhibiting at Firstdraft has been an absolute pleasure, and I would not hesitate to support them in future and their artistic program. As an interstate artist they provided me with ample contact and installation support, and were super friendly, while still providing critical feedback and dialogue concerning my work. I felt confident exhibiting at Firstdraft and working with their diverse team and hope to continue to in future.”

Firstdraft audience at  partygirl , 2018, Firstdraft, Sydney, curated by Ainslie Templeton

Firstdraft audience at partygirl, 2018, Firstdraft, Sydney, curated by Ainslie Templeton