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Warrnambool Art Gallery Director Vanessa Gerrans and Lighthouse Theatre Manager Michael Frawley

New leaders at Lighthouse Theatre and WAG

News Article Date: 
Monday, 7 September 2015

Warrnambool will this month observe a “changing of the guard” at two of its great cultural institutions.

On September 7 Vanessa Gerrans will start in her role as director of the Warrnambool Art Gallery (WAG) while Michael Frawley will become the new manager of the Lighthouse Theatre.

Ms Gerrans, who brings a decade of experience from Melbourne’s RMIT Gallery, succeeds John Cunningham.

Warrnambool City Council Acting Director Community Development Russell Lineham said the appointment of a new gallery director heralded another exciting phase in the gallery’s history.

“We’re thrilled to announce Ms Gerrans as the new director. During her time at RMIT Gallery she curated and collaborated on diverse exhibition programs that explored contemporary art, sculpture, drawing, architecture, writing, philosophy, jewellery, design and fashion,” Mr Lineham said.

Ms Gerrans said she had a high regard for the role regional galleries play in representing local culture, history and arts practice, and how they were often initiators in bringing significant exhibitions to Victoria.

She sees great potential for the Warrnambool Art Gallery to become an incubator for the community to collaborate and explore ideas.

“I aim to be an entrepreneurial and collaborative member of the Warrnambool community, to foster creativity and build strong networks with a cross pollination of ideas,” Ms Gerrans said.

“I am committed to building the profile of the Gallery with a strong focus on strengthening the breadth and quality of the collection, promoting local artists and expanding beyond the gallery walls to incorporate public art, street, light and sound works.”

Ms Gerrans is planning events and opportunities to hear the community’s views on how to continue to make the WAG a vibrant part of the region.

“Warrnambool is a captivating place. I am looking forward to meeting the community and working with them to develop a rich and engaging program that will celebrate and explore the cultural life and work of artists along the shipwreck coast,” she said.

At the Lighthouse Theatre, Mr Frawley will take on the position vacated by Greg Diamantis in June.

Mr Frawley has considerable experience in managing regional theatres having held similar roles at theatres in Port Hedland, Sale and Wagga.

He said the role at the Lighthouse was very appealing and the “vibe from Warrnambool is that it’s a very artistically engaged community.”

“For a regional centre to have such a well set-up theatre is a real boon,” he said.

Mr Frawley’s background is in predominantly independent, contemporary and physical theatre but he said he enjoyed the full spectrum of theatre and the diverse programming at the Lighthouse was a tremendous legacy created by Mr Diamantis.

“The Lighthouse has cutting edge theatre, musical performance and quality mainstage productions,” he said. 

Warrnambool City Council Manager Recreation and Culture Russell Lineham said he was looking forward to Mr Frawley taking over the reins at the Lighthouse.

“Michael’s combination of enthusiasm and experience bode well for the Lighthouse which remains one of Warrnambool’s great cultural institutions,” Mr Lineham said.

“Over the past financial year the Lighthouse recorded more than 64,500 attendances which illustrates the demand for live theatre in Warrnambool.”

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