LTU Art Institute appoints new director

La Trobe University and the City of Greater Bendigo have strengthened their existing partnership by announcing highly respected arts administrator and director, Karen Quinlan, will lead both the Bendigo Art Gallery and the La Trobe Art Institute.

Under a new initiative, announced jointly today by the City of Greater Bendigo and La Trobe University, Ms Quinlan will take on an unprecedented leadership role in the Victorian and national arts industry by leading two of Victoria's prominent regional arts institutions.

Today's announcement confirms that the La Trobe Arts Institute has appointed Karen Quinlan as both its first Professor of Practice and new Director. Professor Quinlan will continue her role as the Director of the highly successful Bendigo Art Gallery and concurrently lead the La Trobe Arts Institute to achieve its ambition of building a vital cultural and creative sector in regional Victoria and establishing La Trobe University as a leading arts destination in its own right.

Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar said he was delighted that Professor Quinlan, who already has strong links to the University, has agreed to take on the leadership of the Institute.

 "We already have a successful partnership with the Bendigo Art Gallery and this new initiative will enable both institutions to link their substantial collections and curatorial expertise with the intellectual capital and teaching expertise of one of Victoria's top three Universities," Professor Dewar said.

"The opportunity to build new links with our world class academics and researchers will enhance arts offerings and experiences for the wider community in Bendigo, regional Victoria and at our Melbourne campuses in Bundoora and the CBD.

"Our students will benefit from the application of Professor Quinlan's extensive industry experience to ensure our teaching and research is relevant and innovative; and that a range of industry partnerships will offer work placements as a stepping-stone to future careers for our students."

City of Greater Bendigo Chief Executive Officer, Craig Niemann, said the City and La Trobe are fortunate to be able to share such an incredible talent.

"Professor Quinlan is highly regarded in Australia's arts industry and her appointment through this innovative partnership will further strengthen Bendigo's reputation nationally and internationally as a leader in arts and education," Mr Niemann said.

"The City looks forward to supporting Professor Quinlan as she carries out the dual roles of Bendigo Art Gallery Director and La Trobe Art Institute Director."

City of Greater Bendigo City Futures Director, Stan Liacos, said this announcement sets Bendigo apart from its regional city competitors.

"We are confident Bendigo has the best art gallery in regional Australia, however it is essential that the gallery and the city continue to be redefined," Mr Liacos said.

This formal alliance between the City of Greater Bendigo and La Trobe University creates a strong link between arts, education and research and sees Bendigo provide a unique opportunity to students, academics and the wider community to access a rich and varied learning program.

"Bendigo is a vibrant regional city and La Trobe is a vital part of the local economy. This collaboration makes excellent business and artistic sense and although today's announcement follows many years of discussion, especially over the past 12 months, the outcome is truly wonderful for Bendigo's overall future," said Mr Liacos.

"Today's announcement is also particularly special as Professor Quinlan this year celebrates 20 years at the Bendigo Art Gallery. It has been a privilege to work with her and this is an exciting opportunity for her to continue diversify her outstanding career," Mr Liacos said.

Professor Quinlan said she was excited by the possibilities that will be opened up by a unique partnership between a regional art gallery and a leading university.

"Art galleries and institutions throughout the world are looking for new ways to add richer experiences for their local communities.  Working hand in hand with the extensive intellectual, teaching and research capital of La Trobe University will break new ground in the Australian arts industry," she said.

"I am looking forward to working closely with regional, national and international partners to develop a range of innovative arts offerings that will enhance the experiences of the Bendigo and La Trobe communities.  

"As a first step, I will be consulting widely on the development of an arts strategy for the University to make the best use of La Trobe's collections, curatorial expertise, exhibition spaces and intellectual capital.

"The Bendigo Art Gallery will also commence curating a major exhibition from the La Trobe Art Collection for exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery and a national tour in 2017 to mark the 50th anniversary of students commencing at the Bundoora campus of La Trobe."

Professor Quinlan will commence as the new Director of the La Trobe Institute immediately. Her new role will include leading strategic arts planning and management, building external arts partnerships and community engagement, and helping to ensure La Trobe's arts events, teaching and research offerings continue to be world class.   

Image: Professor John Dewar with Professor Karen Quinlan and Mr Craig Niemann, Chief Executive Officer, City of Greater Bendigo

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