The Ballarat International Foto Biennale was founded in 2005 and attracts significant international and Australian photographers as one of Australia’s pre-eminent photographic festivals. It is a not-for-profit event that immerses the historic town of Ballarat in photographic art.
Now in its 16th year, the Ballarat International Foto Biennale has enriched the cultural landscape of regional Victoria, becoming the most significant, prestigious photographic arts festival in Australia. Held every two years we showcase work from domestic and international artists that is new, previously unseen in Australia or contextualised afresh; and in our Open Program we foster the development of emerging artists. Alongside there are public programs and education programs comprising talks, workshops and prizes which round out a rich and diverse cultural event that attracts more than 30,000 people, delivering significant economic and cultural impact.
The Ballarat International Foto Biennale is guided by the principle that it not only serves the community but also plays a vital role in cultivating it.
The Ballarat International Foto Biennale has attracted more than 200,000 visitors to Ballarat and was honoured in 2018 at the Federation Business School and Commerce Ballarat Business Excellence Awards as the winner of the Visit Ballarat Events and Attractions Business Award. Its Founding Director, Jeff Moorfoot OAM received an Order of Australia Medal for services to photography.
We are Australia’s leading photographic festival. We’ve done this by consistently finding new ways to engage audiences with photography, responding to our audience’s needs, their changing vision of art and culture, and the role it plays in shaping Ballarat. We recognise and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people as the First Australians. Through photography, we see our world reflected back in unexpected ways through the eyes of others: artists, community and new perspectives.
How We Support Artists
The Ballarat International Foto Biennale prides itself on being a sustainable and flexible organisation, registered as a not-for-profit and reporting to ACNC quarterly with audited financials every year. With the full support of our board and carefully documented audited accounts, we ensure that all our artists are supported throughout the Foto Biennale. As registered members of NAVA (National Association for Visual Artists) and IBA (International Biennial Association) we ensure all core contracted artists are paid. Contracted artists are paid in full prior to or in the opening week of the festival. Any touring of artists works are re-contracted and paid additional touring fees. Artist fees are exclusive of their printing and material costs.
Our exhibition spaces and audience engagement ensure that artists are exposed to large audiences within the beautiful heritage buildings of Ballarat, and in 2017 we were thrilled that 3 artists gained gallery representation as a direct result of exhibiting with us. Another artist had his complete exhibition purchased by the NGV.
All of our supporters receive tax deductible receipts for their donations. Government organisations (local, state and federal) and Trusts and Foundations receive acquittals. All corporate sponsors are contracted and receive a report on the marketing outcomes of the festival.
The 9th Ballarat International Foto Biennale will take place on 28 August – 24 October 2021.
A prominent and highly respected arts director, Fiona Sweet is renowned for inspiring and intelligent delivery of uniquely curated festivals and exhibitions. Currently, Fiona is the Creative Director of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, Australia’s leading contemporary photographic event.
Held every two years, the Biennale is a 60-day festival delivering a dynamic program of two major photographic exhibition streams: a curated Core Program showcasing acclaimed domestic and international artists and Open Program that fosters the development of new artists. Fiona is also the Director at the National Centre For Photography, Australia’s newest and only regional gallery dedicated exclusively to photography. In 2017, her inaugural year as Creative Director, the Biennale drew an audience of over 26,800, contributing an economic impact of $3.89 million to the local economy with the celebrated American artist David LaChappelle as the headline artist.
Fiona’s directorship of the 2019 Biennale was responsible for more than 37,000 visitors with an injection of $7.8 million into the city’s economy. Her fourth year working with incredible artists and curators, the festival prompted audiences to question, explore and be changed by art. She successfully invited Chinese artist Liu Bolin as the headline artist, exhibiting his Camouflage series – highlighting critical works from the past 15 years of Bolin’s creative output. As a curator, her interest lies in the interdisciplinary and experimental approaches to the photographic medium. Fiona’s practise often investigates the intersections between the human body and the human psyche and its response to shifting societal perspectives, power dynamics and challenges.
Fiona is an influential and in-demand public speaker, industry judge, photographic portfolio reviewer and assessor in Australia and internationally. The recipient of many prestigious design awards, Fiona was the Director and Founder of Sweet Creative and former Board Director of the Australian Graphic Design Association. Fiona was the recipient of an Ian Potter Foundation Travel Grant in 2018 for her research on international art festival best practice.
General Manager & Marketing: Kate O’Hehir
Festival Coordinator & Producer: Sarina Meuleman
Education Coordinator: Annabel Mason
Production Manager: Liza Martin
Web Developer: Hody Hong
IT Support: Jason Maher
Legals: Lloyd Dewar, Dewar Law
Stephen is a well-respected leader in the Ballarat community and is a current member of the AFL Tribunal and AFL Appeals Board, a board member of Ballarat and Clarendon College, and is a well-known Melbourne barrister. After playing AFL football for Richmond, Stephen settled in Ballarat and has a strong community and arts connection.
Morgan McLay is a barrister at the Victorian Bar. In his legal practice, Morgan regularly represents high profile clients including artists. His primary practice is in public and medical law. Morgan also practices in common law, rights protection and financial crime (including directors’ and officers’ liability). He has a passion for the arts, especially film and photography. Having previously lived in the Daylesford area, Morgan is pleased to be part of the team bringing a world class arts festival to Ballarat. Morgan is committed to making the Arts more accessible to Regional Victoria whilst at the same time showcasing what Regional Victoria has to offer.
Alane Fineman is a Chartered Accountant with over 20 years’ experience in the finance sector including senior positions with major ASX listed corporations and Big 4 accounting firms. She is an avid supporter of the arts, having worked actively in philanthropy with The Australian Ballet over many years. Alane brings an enthusiasm and unique skillset that will contribute greatly to not only the governance of the Board’s operations but also the financial integrity and broader ambitions of the organisation.
Alicia Linley is a Managing Director at Mitchell Harris Wines and overseen the business excel from the startup phase to now. Through sound financial management and business development she has been able to elevate Mitchell Harris from more than just a winemaker and hospitality venue, into a genuine tourism destination for Ballarat. Alicia has been named as a Victorian finalist for the 2019 Telstra Business Women’s Awards.
Zoë Croggon is a Melbourne-based photographic artist holding a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honours from the Victorian College of the Arts. She has recently held solo exhibitions at the National Gallery of Victoria, the Perth Centre for Photography and Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery and was the recipient of the Art Gallery of New South Wales Studio Scholarship at the Cité Internationale des Arts (Paris, 2018). Zoë brings her versatile and expansive knowledge of contemporary art and specifically expanded photography to the Ballarat International Foto Biennale board. Zoë is represented by Daine Singer, Melbourne.
Georgia Manifold has experience in a range of arts platforms throughout the Asia Pacific region. As an art advisor, she has developed programs for the hospitality, aviation and investment banking sectors and initiated cross-cultural collaborations for Australian and South-East Asian artists, collectors and galleries. Her background is in art practice and cultural entrepreneurism with an interest in audience engagement intiatives, place-making and technology. Georgia lives in regional Victoria and continues to consult on local and international creative projects.
Stephen Bracks AC
Julian Burnside AO QC
Her Honour Judge Sara Hinchey
Peter Jopling AM QC
Julie Kantor AO
Natalie King OAM
The Hon. Robert Knowles AO
Mayor Cr Daniel Moloney
Kate Torney OAM