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 sits on the Board of the 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.
Travis Green – Ticketing & CRM Manager
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 – Marketing Manager
Aimee returned to Sydney Writers’ Festival in January 2016, having previously worked with us in 2014. Prior to re-joining the SWF team, she had worked in arts marketing for the last six years, most recently at Sydney Theatre Company.
Aimee’s other roles include Publications Editor at Perth International Arts Festival and Sydney Festival. Aimee has a background in publishing, having worked as an editor for education publishing companies in Melbourne. Aimee studied literature at Curtin University in Western Australia, and writing and editing at the University of Melbourne.
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.
Tamara Press – Head of Development (Maternity Leave)
Tamara joined the Festival team in late 2013 after four years in London where she headed the corporate development team at the Barbican Centre. With over 10 year's experience in marketing, activation and fundraising, Tamara is passionate about developing successful partnerships between business and the Arts. As well as working with arts companies, including Sydney Festival, Tamara has worked for two international Sport and Entertainment agencies as Senior Account Director looking after a range of blue chip clients across a portfolio of sponsorships.
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.
Natasha Younger – Finance & Administration Manager
Natasha joined the Sydney Writers' Festival team in 2013. Prior to moving to Sydney, Natasha 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: her love of learning new things, music and the arts have influenced her career from the onset. Working with Sydney Writers’ Festival combines her love of new ideas, and events that inspire and educate, together with the alphabet, systems and the world of literature.
Tamara Zimet – Program Coordinator
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.