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About Us

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.

From 2016-2021 Artistic Director and CEO Fiona Sweet was responsible for presenting three Biennales, featuring David LaChapelle, Liu Bolin and the Linda McCartney: Retrospective – transforming BIFB into a world-class event with strong curatorial leadership, artistic integrity and more than 80,000 visitors. During her directorship, Fiona Sweet raised over $20M to facilitate the vision of being the leading photographic biennale in Australia. The creation of the National Centre For Photography, Australia’s only contemporary gallery dedicated to photography, and the state government funding acquired to support this initiative will remain evident for many years into the future, showcasing Fiona’s legacy and vision. 

The Ballarat International Foto Biennale 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.

Our Supporters

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.

Team

2016 – 2021 Artistic Director and CEO: Fiona Sweet

A prominent and highly respected arts director, Fiona Sweet is renowned for inspiring and intelligent delivery of uniquely curated festivals and exhibitions. 

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.

For the first time in Australia, the 2021 Ballarat International Foto Biennale presents an exclusive look back at the career of the world-famous photographer Linda McCartney (1941-1998). Curated by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney, Linda McCartney: Retrospective features more than 200 extraordinary photographs, including images of the McCartney family, the 1960s music scene, and a series of prints from the McCartney’s time to Australia between 1975 and 1993 which have never been shown before.

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

Volunteer Coordinator: Elizabeth Graham

Design: Motherbird

Web Developer: Hody Hong

IT Support: Jason Maher

Legals: Lloyd Dewar, Dewar Law

Board

Stephen Jurica, Chair

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, Deputy Chair

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.

 

Ashley Carmichael, Treasurer

Ashley provides financial expertise to the Board through his role with Sky Accountants.

Alicia Linley, Secretary

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.

Gayle Boschert

Gayle has long experience of working with for-purpose boards which has fostered a capacity to think and act strategically in guiding the growth of and strong commitment to both the Ballarat community and the health of local community for purpose organisations. Gayle has significant knowledge of and commitment to the power of local board governance for for purpose organisations has fuelled her volunteering throughout the last 20 years.

Gita Chetty

A leader in strategy, human centred design, social innovation and speculative futures in complex government, not for profit and private sector organisations. Gita has a passion for working with organisations who are on their transformational journey. She develops product, service and customer experience strategies to meet the ever changing needs of diverse communities, supports organisations to make strategic decisions to set them on their future trajectories, and makes exponential change and impact at a systems level. Gita started their career as a commercial photographer with a passion for fine art, large format landscape photography, which has taken her to extraordinary places and communities, including the Arctic and Arnhem Land. Photography remains a central part of Gita’s life, and has supported her to think creatively throughout her career.

Zoë Croggon

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

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.

 
 

James Remington

James Remington is a Director of Nevetts Lawyers specialising in commercial litigation and workplace relations. He also a board member of the Midlands Golf Club, an advisory member of Ballarat Clarendon College’s Audit & Risk Committee and a former President of the Ballarat & District Law Association. He grew up in Ballarat and spent 10 years studying and working in Melbourne before returning home in 2016.He is passionate about Ballarat and passionate about the arts.

Ambassadors

The Hon. Steve Bracks AC
Tammy Gilson
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
James Valentine 

Reports

2019 Festival Report

2017 Festival Report

2020-21 Annual Report

2019-20 Annual Report