Jo Dyer – CEO
Jo joined the Festival in February 2015. Prior to that, Jo held significant roles in the Australian arts industry, including General Manager of Bangarra Dance Theatre and Executive Producer of Sydney Theatre Company. During her time at STC, Jo oversaw the largest theatre program in the country, curating for multiple venues and diverse audiences, and touring the company’s works around Australia and across Europe and the US.
As a film producer, Jo’s debut film, Lucky Miles (2007) was nominated for Best Film at Australia’s AFI and IF Awards, and won awards around the world. Her most recent film, the internationally award-winning Girl Asleep (2016) was also nominated for Best Film at the AACTA awards and has screened in cinemas and at Festivals worldwide, most notably at the Berlin International Film Festival.
As an independent producer, Jo has produced work for a diverse range of presenters through her company, Soft Tread Enterprises. After a sell-out premiere season at the 2014 Sydney Festival, her acclaimed magic show, Band of Magicians, toured widely and included a season at the Tropicana in Las Vegas in November 2016.
Jo is the Chair of Force Majeure, one of Australia’s most celebrated dance theatre companies, and was a founding Director of the Board of City Recital Hall.
Michaela McGuire – Artistic Director
Michaela is a journalist, author, programmer and curator, and joined the Festival in December 2016. Prior to taking up this appointment, she was Director and Co-CEO of Melbourne’s Emerging Writers’ Festival, and in 2016 delivered the organisation’s largest and most successful festival to date.
Michaela is the author of Last Bets: A true story of gambling, morality and the law, the Penguin Special A Story of Grief and Apply Within: Stories of career sabotage. She has worked as a regular columnist for Q Weekend, The Saturday Age and The Monthly, where she wrote a weekly blog on politics and current affairs throughout 2013 and 2014, and regularly reviews books for Fairfax.
In 2010, Michaela co-founded the international ‘literary phenomenon’ Women of Letters. She has programmed and hosted over 160 sold-out shows all around Australia, as well as in the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Indonesia and New Zealand, and has since established Women of Letters as a monthly series of events in New York City, running concurrently to the Australian shows. With this unique platform, Michaela has created a celebration of women’s voices, the likes of which include Siri Hustvedt, Edie Falco, Suki Kim, Eileen Myles, Molly Ringwald, JD Samson, Susan Orlean, Kathleen Turner, Ariel Levy, Meg Wolitzer, Aparna Nancherla, Tavi Gevison, Alexis Okeowo, Katja Blichfeld and Jean Grae. Women of Letters has been praised widely for fostering a unique intimacy between artists and audiences. Globally, Women of Letters has raised over $850,000 for charity to date.
Michaela continues to co-curate the New York series from Sydney.
Liz Astey – Head of Operations & Production
Liz joined the Festival in August 2015, following a career as a Production and Operations Manager at some of Australia's largest events and festivals. Focusing mainly on large-scale outdoor events, Liz has been involved in Sydney New Year's Eve with both the City of Sydney and Royal Botanic Gardens, as well as taking on roles at Belvoir, Performing Lines, Sydney Festival, Sydney Film Festival, Darwin Festival, and Art Month Sydney.
Liz joins the Writers' Festival as the Head of Operations and Production after five years working on the ground at the event.
Stephen Attfield – Head of Development
Stephen joined the Sydney Writers' Festival team in August 2016. He is a senior arts professional with over 10 years experience writing strategy and delivering profitable relationships between business and the arts, and building successful membership and patrons programs. Stephen is passionate about the arts and has worked with some of its major names – Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Carriageworks and Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
Daniela Baldry – Programming & Administration Assistant
Daniela joined the Sydney Writers’ Festival team in February 2017, and returns to work with us for our 2018 Festival. Daniela has worked in event production and ticketing management across a variety of Sydney's performing arts venues and festivals; most recently at the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Theatre Company within the Ticketing Services teams, and previously for the Sydney Film Festival and the Sydney Festival.
Daniela holds a BA in Communications (Theatre/Media) and a Masters in English and Drama Education, and places great value on education through the Arts. From 2011-2012 Daniela ran The Fresh Meat Project, an emerging artist community, within which she self-published Fresh Meat – an interview anthology undertaken with a variety of emerging artists.
Luke de Zilva – Digital Manager
Luke is a Digital and arts specialist who has worked for some of Australia’s biggest arts organisations including Sydney Opera House, the Art Gallery of NSW, Carriageworks, Sydney Festival and Sydney Writers’ Festival. 2018 marks Luke’s third Sydney Writers’ Festival. His favourite writer is Eugene O’Neill.
Emma Froggatt – Marketing Coordinator
Emma joined the Sydney Writers’ Festival team in January 2018. Prior to joining the festival, she had worked as a freelance arts writer, a copywriter and communications officer.
Emma has held marketing and communications roles in the arts, education and not-for-profit sector, including at the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, the Red Cross and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
As a journalist, Emma has written for Guardian Australia, The Saturday Paper, Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings, McSweeneys, and The Upsider. She holds a Bachelor of International Studies (French) and a Master of Arts in Journalism. Emma was shortlisted for the UTS Writer’s Prize in 2015 for her memoir In Spring, which was published in the UTS Writers’ Anthology, Strange Objects Covered with Fur.
Erin Garner - Ticketing Specialist
Erin returns to the Sydney Writer’s Festival in 2018 following more than 10 years of experience working in ticketing and customer service. She most recently completed her fourth year as a Ticketing Systems Coordinator at the Sydney Festival with other roles including Darwin Festival, Sydney Film Festival, Ticketmaster and Griffin Theatre Company.
Travis Green – Head of Customer Relations
Travis joined Sydney Writers’ Festival in February 2016. He has over 8 years experience in Arts Management, focusing on the customer experience and developing patron retention in the arts sector.
Travis previously held the role of Education Systems and Client Services Manager at the Sydney Theatre Company, Customer Relations Manager at the Bell Shakespeare Company, Season Tickets Manager at the Sydney Theatre Company, and Customer Services Manager at the Griffin Theatre Company. He has a passion for the performing arts and literature, and its engagement in the wider community.
Aimee Huxley – Head of Marketing & Digital
Aimee joined Sydney Writers’ Festival in January 2016. Prior to the Festival, she had been working in arts marketing roles for the last six years, including positions at Perth International Arts Festival, Sydney Festival and Sydney Theatre Company.
Aimee has also worked as an editor and copywriter for various organisations across the arts, film, not-for-profit, education, health and publishing sectors. Aimee studied literature at Curtin University and publishing at the University of Melbourne.
Andy Lysle – Production Manager
Andy Lysle has worked with Sydney Writers’ Festival since 2011 starting as a technician and moving into the Production role.
As a freelancer Andy works regularly for many different arts organisations and festivals including Sydney Festival, Underbelly Arts, Bangarra Dance Theatre, The Sydney Fringe and many more. He also runs an event production company providing equipment for emerging theatre groups, venues and events such as Brand X , 107 Projects, The Red Rattler Theatre, Regrowth, Skyvillage among others.
Sydney Writers’s Festival is one of the highlight events of the year for Andy. It is an opportunity to grow and learn a lot, not just from the program but also from the unique challenges that the heritage Piers in Walsh Bay provide.
Misty McPhail – Volunteer & Internships Manager
Misty is excited to be leading our amazing team of volunteers once again in 2018. Originally from Perth, her first introduction to Sydney Writers' Festival was in 2012 as a volunteer, then in 2013 she took on the FOH Manager role at the Festival's major city events. In 2014, Misty returned as the Volunteer Coordinator and since then has expanded the Festival's internship program for university students and led the volunteer team through four successful festivals. In 2018, she returns as the Volunteer & Internships Manager.
Misty graduated from WSU with BA (Honours) in 2013, receiving the university medal, and in 2015 began PhD research into innovative digital festival formats. In the Festival off-season, Misty is a co-producer of Made in the West Film Festival, a grassroots film festival for Western Sydney filmmakers. She has worked as a creative producer with the Digital Writers’ Festival, is regularly involved in scriptwriting projects with Still Searchin’ Productions, and is a freelance editor in her spare time.
Ashleigh Morton – Volunteer & Internships Coordinator
Ashleigh first worked with the Festival in 2016 for the Children’s Festival of Moving Stories and she is excited to be returning for the 2018 Festival. When not working on Sydney Writers’ Festival events Ashleigh coordinates large arts programs, such as the Brisbane Festival volunteers program and the Australian Production Design Guild’s annual awards. Ashleigh has a background in editing, communications and organisational administration and holds a Masters in Publishing from the University of Sydney, received under the University’s FASS Scholarship.
Benython Oldfield – Publicity Manager
Benython has been working on the promotion of Sydney Writers’ Festival since 2013. He is the Director of publicity & writers’ agency, Zeitgeist Media Group.
Mouche Phillips – Partnerships Manager
Mouche was recently the Partnership Manager for Byron Bay Writers Festival and the Event Manager and the Business Development Officer for Byron Theatre. For the last 3 years, she also partnered with the Byron Shire Council as curator and project manager of the outdoor event, Soul St New Years Eve, Byron Bay’s annual major festival event.
Before departing Sydney for Byron Bay some ten years ago, Mouche spent five years as General Manager and producer with Jeremy Sims’ production company, Porkchop Productions. Pork Chop produced many acclaimed shows, a number in partnership with the Sydney Opera House, including notable productions such as Last Cab to Darwin and Ruby’s Last Dollar.
Clare Sawyer – Head of Children's & YA Programs
Clare Sawyer is a producer and programmer, specialising in children's, education and Young Adult programming. Since 2016 she has curated the expanded Family Program for Sydney Film Festival. She has also programmed for Flickerfest and Cockatoo Island Film Festivals and worked with the Youth Jury (Generation) at Berlin Film Festival. Clare was previously the Screen Development and Education Manager of Cockatoo Island and Dungog film festivals.
For four years, Clare was the Producer and General Manager of the IF Awards, which screened on SBS TV and Showtime. Prior to that she managed two key independent film festivals, Flickerfest and Mardi Gras Film Festival. Clare has also worked in production roles on numerous features, shorts, music videos and animations, and has produced five films. Her award-winning films have screened at film festivals across the globe including Telluride, Clermont Ferrand, Tampere, Palm Springs, FIKE and Locarno.
Gene Smith – Project Coordinator
Gene joins the Sydney Writers’ Festival again for 2018, after working on the 2017 Festival. Prior to and in between his Festival jobs, he has worked at a number of arts and cultural organisations, including Queensland Performing Arts Centre, the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Sydney Opera House, and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, in various capacities from ticketing to external relations to programming.
From 2013-2014, Gene managed Front Row Theatre, one of Brisbane’s oldest community theatre companies, where he programmed, produced, and directed a number of shows. He has also been involved as a producer with the Queer Film Collective, a Sydney-based film-making syndicate, and is currently studying towards a BA in Professional Writing and Publishing.
Natasha Younger – Finance & Administration Manager
Natasha joined the Sydney Writers' Festival team in 2013. Prior to moving to Sydney she worked for seven years as the Event and Program Manager for the MBS Festival in London. With over ten years experience in systems, events and teams, Natasha’s love of learning, words, and the arts have influenced her career from the onset. Working with Sydney Writers’ Festival combines Natasha’s passion for new ideas and events that inspire, with the alphabet, filing systems and the world of literature.
Tamara Zimet – Program Manager
Tam joined Sydney Writers’ Festival in August 2016 after working as the Media Liaison at Screen Australia. At Screen Australia, Tam was the main point of contact for media and was part of a team that delivered the agency’s biggest ever funding project, Gender Matters, which aims to address the gender disparity in the screen sector.
Before moving to Sydney, Tam was the Publicist at the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne for more than four years and was also on the Junior Advisory Board for the Melbourne Festival. She has a BA in Communications (Professional Communications) from RMIT and a Diploma of Youth Work. Tam has worked as a consultant and volunteer in various capacities for organisations including the Girls on Film Festival (GOFF), SlutWalk and The Reach Foundation.
Box Office Staff
Rebecca Blake, Pauline Futeran, Fiona Hallenan-Barker, Alec McLeod, Sarah Toner and Emily Watson