2019 Western Australian of the Year Awards

Arts & Culture Award Finalists

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The Arts & Culture Award is presented in celebration of excellence in achievement and/or significant contribution at a state, national or international level to the development, promotion and profiling of arts and culture disciplines in Western Australia.

Meet our 2019 Arts & Culture Award finalists:

Mark Coughlan

For 30 years, Mark Coughlan has been a passionate and effective advocate for the role of music and the arts in the Western Australian community. He is a highly regarded national arts and culture leader, an accomplished educator, concert pianist, conductor, music critic, teacher and concert promoter. He is also an experienced mentor of young and emerging musicians at state and national levels, nurturing young talent and supporting early-career artists.

Currently CEO of the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, Mark has held a number of senior roles within arts-focussed organisations including Lost and Found Opera, the Western Australian Youth Orchestra, St George’s Cathedral Arts Foundation and the Australian Music Examinations Board.

Committed to enhancing the cultural life of Western Australians, Mark has volunteered his time and expertise to establish concert series and community engagement programs. He co-founded Lost and Found Opera in 2013 and built a strong national reputation for the company culminating in a Perth Festival world premiere of the new opera commission, Ned Kelly (2019).

Mark also established the Government House ballroom concert series, Music on the Terrace, in 2006 and has been the Artistic Director ever since. This series nurtures young talent and presents major national and international artists.

Jessica Gethin

Jessica is a true Western Australian talent, leading the way globally in a field where female conductors are still very much in the minority.

In an industry traditionally populated by older, European males, Jessica is committed in her efforts to ‘normalise’ and support other women. She has earned praise from audiences and critics alike for her dynamic energy, outstanding musicianship and abounding presence on the podium. Her conducting performances have been described as organic; controlling the ebb and flow of tension with goose-bump-inducing artistry.

After graduating with a music performance degree on violin from the WA Academy of Performing Arts, Jessica spent five years on the podium in the exclusive Symphony Australia Conductor Development Program.

Her career soon blossomed, and in 2017 Jessica made her debut conducting performance at the Sydney Opera House, which was soon followed by national and international performances in China, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Malaysia, Auckland, Dallas and Singapore.

A proud Western Australian, Jessica has made it her mission to help cultivate a more vibrant, sustainable arts culture here at home. She is a natural ambassador for WA in her work overseas, with regular appearances on the podium, media interviews and high profile functions across the globe.

As chief conductor of Perth Symphony Orchestra since 2011, conductor for the WA Ballet this year and working with other organisations including WA Opera and WAAPA, she continually brings her energy and leadership to local musicians, mentoring young conductors and working with youth in community and education-based projects.

Andrew Ross

Andrew Ross might not be a household name, but he is as famous as one can get in the Western Australian theatre world. As the founding Artistic Director of Black Swan Theatre Company, Andrew has spent much of his career introducing audiences to the talents of many Aboriginal writers, actors and creatives.

Currently directing Opera Australia’s national touring production of Bran Nue Dae, Andrew is renowned for producing Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal-themed theatre that reflects the nature of WA society through its unique landscapes, stories, art and history.

He is responsible for some of Australia’s most iconic work showcasing regional Western Australia, yet is also a pioneer in introducing local audiences to theatre and dance from South Africa and Indonesia. In his consulting role for the Department of Local Government Sports and Cultural Industries, Andrew is passionate about invigorating cultural links with South East Asia and the Indian Ocean Region.

Andrew still maintains a close association with the organisation he founded in 1991, enjoying his term as emeritus artist for the Black Swan State Theatre Company.

Bourby Webster

Be it Karratha or Kwinana, Bourby’s mission is to take orchestral music to WA communities that usually do not have access to it – and deliver it with a twist.

As founder of Perth Symphony Orchestra (PSO), Bourby has a long-held passion for bringing classical music to the masses. Her two orchestras have performed in places and spaces that showcase WA’s history and heritage, including basements, railway workshops and shopping atriums. She aims to give talented WA musicians a place to shine in a range of diverse and offbeat locations while attracting new audiences.

Internationally, PSO’s profile also continues to grow under Bourby’s stewardship. Her first international export, Faith & Freedom: The Music of George Michael, was performed at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore in December, 2018, triggering discussions with Australian orchestras and international promoters to perform more shows, such as Unplugged: Nirvana Re-imagined.

A keen believer in artistic innovation, Bourby’s recent PSO concert series involved blending scientists and environmentalists with music, as well as discussion about the fragility of our planet. It was just one of her commercially successful projects that engaged 220 WA musicians and soloists over the past year, pushing PSO closer to its goal of retaining more musical talent in the state.

Committed to supporting other WA artists, Bourby Webster also founded the Perth Arts Leaders Collective – an initiative aimed at mentoring arts leaders creating their own startup companies.

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