Bundanon’s CEO, Deborah Ely, has this week announced her intention to step down from the role in mid-2021. Her departure will coincide with the physical completion of Bundanon’s ambitious new arts infrastructure, designed to house the $43M Boyd art collection,and set to transform the cultural tourism of the NSW South Coast.
Chairman of the Bundanon Trust, Jennifer Bott AO said “Deborah has taken a small heritage jewel and built it into a diverse, challenging, creative hive of activity-embraced locally, nationally and internationally. For over a decade Ely has also driven the Masterplan project to create a world class art museum at Bundanon, embedded in the Australian bush.”
The new development incorporates radical solutions to a changing climate, with a net zero energy target, and will be defendable against fire and flood. A key achievement of her time in office has been successfully fundraising for the $33M project, which has attracted substantial investment from the Australian Government ($22M), from the NSW Government($8.6M) as well as from individual benefactors. The new art museum, accommodation bridge and cafe are due to be opened to the public in early 2022.
DeborahEly comments “This is the right time to bring in new leadership to guide the company on the next stage of its journey. I feel exceptionally privileged to have directed the company for over fourteen years. Bundanon has grown exponentially in that time and that trajectory will continue with the opening of the new art museum. Working with Kerstin Thompson Architect’s (KTA) on the conceptualisation and resolution of the infrastructure project has been a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Ms Ely has overseen the transformation of Bundanon during her tenure, with the development of programs linking landscape, environment, First Nations, artistic and scientific enquiry with creative voices and local knowledge. The Artists in Residence and Learning programs have been expanded to include over 300 artists annually from across the globe and thousands of school students who participate in unique residential creative learning programs throughout the year. Visitation has quadrupled, touring programs expanded and unique public events, such as Siteworks, gained national and international recognition.
Ms Ely notes: “The number of remarkable artists with whom I have had the opportunity to work, and the creative freedom of the role, have been a gift. It has been a joy to work in such an environment, and I would like to thank the board and staff for their support in helping to realise the Masterplan and programs.”
Jennifer Bott AO reflects that “Deborah Ely has been a visionary leader and is held in high esteem as an exceptional arts director. Ms Ely will be always be honoured by Bundanon, board members and staff,donors and all stakeholders for her tireless work, her vision, her commitment and for the extraordinary exhibitions and events she has programmed.”
After 14 years in the role, Ms Ely believes it is time for new leadership to launch, direct and program the reimagined Bundanon. An international recruitment search will take place in early 2021 and Ms Ely will work with the board and staff to ensure a smooth transition in the lead up to the opening of the new art museum.