Creative Arts Leaders

2019 Creative Arts Leaders

In 2019 the Awards were held on 24 October 2019 and winners were selected from the nominees.

The 2019 winners are here

The 2019 nominees are here

The Awards celebration images can be found here

The 2019 Creative Leaders Committee. L-R Maggie Davis, Amy Sambrooke, Anthony Bond, Julie Ankers, Barbara Lepani and Peter Long.Arts 

BMCAN noticed that although the Blue Mountains, through its Regional Business Chamber celebrates our small business community, and despite being the City of the Arts, we do not celebrate our creative leaders with an equivalent annual awards ceremony.

To correct this in 2018 we created the Creative Arts Leader Awards.  For this first year, in 2018, we decided to identify people across the different creative arts genres who are active in the community supporting other creative artists to develop and manifest their talents.

In 2019 we are seeking nominations for possible individual or organisation Creative Leaders from the public and from the arts community. The 2019 Creative Arts Leaders Nomination Forms can be downloaded using the buttons below to nominate people or organisations who you feel have made a contribution to the arts in the Blue Mountains that needs to be recognised and celebrated.To download nomination form for individual awards in the six categories, click button 1. To download nomination form for community organisation award, click button 2.

As an ongoing yearly Creative Arts Leader Awards program, BMCAN aims to work with other arts organisations to create a process that decides on:

  • Criteria for the Creative Arts Leader Award for that year
  • Call for nominations process
  • Selection Process
  • Award Ceremony.

2018 Creative Arts Leaders 

The 2018 Creative Arts Leaders were chosen for their contribution to the creative arts community in the Blue Mountains. Each year BMCAN will host the Blue Mountains Creative Arts Leaders Awards to acknowledge creative arts leaders in 6 art forms: visual arts, artisans, writing, music, performing arts & dance, film & video, and 1 community creative arts organisation.

Last year they were:

Victor Peralta, Julie Ankers, Ann Niddrie, Natasha Sebire, Faye Wilson, Rae Bolotin, Meg Benson, Jo Clancy and Veechi Stuart.

Julie Ankers

President Radio Blue Mts, Director ARTHouse

Radio producer, writer

Julie is the President of Radio Blue Mountains and producer of ARThouse, a program that features the activities of leading creatives in the Blue Mountains. Julie is also on the Board of BMCC’s City of the Arts Trust while on leave from her position on the Board of the Blue Mountains Arts Network. Julie is also a writer, with a keen interest in the over-50s. She has published two books. Feisty, Fabulous and Fifty features women telling their own stories. Her second book, Call Me Frank, features men telling their own stories about their lives. Julie is also well known for her love of beautifully designed hand-crafted jewellery, particularly by local jewellers, and which she wears with great flair.

Victor Peralta

Director Gallery One88


Victor is a painter, co-director of the innovative community-focused GalleryOne88 Fine Arts, host of Conversations at Pigeon Lane and a working civil engineer. He has participated in a number of art exhibitions including the AnyBody Art Prtoject, the Alla Prima, Real Refusals and solo exhibitions,such as Exploration of the Feminine. Victor has submitted works to the Amnesty International Freedom Art, Archibald and Blake Prize exhibitions, and won art prizes such as Amnesty International Demand Dignity and Real Refusals.

Kelly Heylen

Curator & Founder, Platform Gallery


Kelly is the curator and founder of Platform Gallery, a retail and exhibition space dedicated to craft and design in the Blue Mountains, NSW. For several years before opening Platform, Kelly was Australia’s first Creative Industries Cluster Manager, working with the local economic development agency to grow and facilitate collaboration in the region’s creative industries. She is currently Vice President of Radio Blue Mountains, the region’s community radio station.She has undergraduate studies in Professional Writing, and is currently completing a Master of Commerce.

Ann Niddrie

Creative Clusters Manager, BMEE & MTNS MADE

Radio producer, writerPhotographer

Ann is the Creative Industries Cluster Manager for Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise and supports the development of its MTNS MADE brand and community engagement with workshops and Salon eventst. Ann is also an accomplished photographer and was Curator and Producer of the innovative outdoor portrait exhibition, ‘Head in the Clouds’, part of the Australian Head On Festival in the Katoomba CBD,, and was Photo Editor of the popular online publication – the Cloudscape.

Veechi Stuart

Executive Director, Varuna the Writers’ House


Before her current role as Executive Director of Varuna, Australia’s national writers’ house, Veechi worked as a journalist, writer, editor, publisher, business consultant and columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald. She is the author of over a dozen business books and the much-loved Blue Mountains Best Bushwalks.

Rae Bolitin

 Founder & Artistic Direct, BigCi


Rae is a practicing artist with a long track record of solo and group exhibitions both in Australia and internationally. She is also the founder and artistic director of BigCi (Bilpin international ground for Creative initiatives) artist in residence program that to date has hosted and facilitated projects of close to 200 Australian and International artists. Rae has initiated, developed, curated, produced and staged dozens of creative projects.

Jo Clancy


Jo is a First Nations Wiradjuri Dance Artist who was raised and lives on Darug and Gundungurra country in the Blue Mountains. Jo is the Founder and Director of the Wagana Dancers and teaches and performs locally, nationally and internationally. Jo has been making and sharing dance for over 25 years and is an experienced teacher, facilitator, choreographer and performer.

Meg Benson

 Director, Music Hunter

Music Promoter, Event Organiser, Creative Arts Entrepreneur, Installation Artist

Meg Benson is a music and arts entertainment curator and collaborator, who recently had a leading role in Katoomba Live and Local and Katoomba Solstice, and is Director of Music Hunter, which brings innovative musical events to the Blue Mountains community for public and private events. As well as founding Blue Mountains Children’s Theatre in ’97, Meg is a qualified Psychotherapist and Family Therapist, specialising in the therapeutic applications of the Arts.  She contributes a monthly segment, Adventures in Music 6.30-7pm for ARThouse RBM 89.1.Meg acts as a mentor to creative people seeking to develop their careers and relationships, and is well known for her generosity of spirit to the Blue Mountains creative community. Twenty years ago Meg decided to measure the abundance in her life by how much culture she could experience, and hasn’t regretted it.

Natasha Sebire

Co-founder & Co-director, Vertical Film Festival

Natasha is a Director of Photography with an Advanced Diploma in Cinematography from the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, whose work has been as diverse as the places she’s travelled to. Also an accomplished climber, Natasha has received the Australian Geographic Society’s ‘Spirit of Adventure Award’, and has filmed in some of the world’s most inhospitable and remote places. She is co-founder and co-director of the unique Vertical Film Festival which created the world’s first completion for vertical film..

Chris Cannell

 Director, Music In the Mountains

Music Promoter, Event Organiser, Tourism Entrepreneur

Chris is behind ‘Live Music in the Mountains’ which works with Hotel Blue and Aunty Jacks in Katoomba to coordinate and promote their weekly live music activities. Chris specialises in digital event promotion, creating digital content and implementing emerging technology into cultural entrepreneurship. He made his mark in the Blue Mountain creative community with the highly innovative iconic Hotel Blue Jazz Lounge. Chris is on the Board of BMATA (Blue Mountains Accommodation and Tourism Association) and is the Vice President of the Blue Mountains Regional Business Chamber.

Faye Wilson

Director, Blume Magazine

 Publisher, Editor, Writer

Faye is a visual artist, creative director, illustrator, designer and writer who was born in Perth WA and has lived in Katoomba since 1989. Faye was the author, creative director and coordinator behind the Black & Blue exhibition at the BMCC Gallery 2014. She is currently creative director and producer of the Blume Illustration Festival and Blume Illustrated Magazine, which launched in April 2017 and May 2018. Faye’s illustrations have been featured in Vogue, the Sydney Morning Herald and many other publications. Faye created the platypus icon for the Australian swim team swimwear for the Seoul Olympics, swimwear designs for Speedo and textile designs for Mambo.

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Mountain Heritage Hotel
Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal
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Gold Sponsors

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Network Partners

United Cinemas – The Edge
Radio Blue Mountains
ARTHouse RBM89.1FM
Blue Mountains Cultural Centre
Braemar Gallery
Nolan on Lovel Gallery
The HAZE Magazine
The HAZE Magazine
Gallery One88 Fine Arts
Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise
Blue Mountains Accommodation and Tourism Association
Day Gallery
Music Hunter
Create NSW
Blue Mountains City Council