Wed 21 Feb 9:00am - 10:30am
Bastille Room| Sofitel Brisbane Central
1 hr 30 mins



You’re invited to take your seat at the Long Table to ask the big questions…

The Big Anxiety is a radically new kind of international arts festival, bringing together artists, scientists and communities to question and reimagine the state of mental health in the 21st century.

After its highly successful debut in 2017, Artistic Director Professor Jill Bennett (University of New South Wales) summons a stellar cohort of brilliant minds (including you) to navigate their way through some of our big questions, asking ultimately: Can art save lives?

For further information on The Big Anxiety, please contact Tanja Farman |

Professor Jill Bennett – University of New South Wales


  • Angharad Wynne-Jones – Arts Centre Melbourne
  • Helen Medland – SICK! Festival (UK)
  • Jane Crawley – Creative Victoria
  • Professor Michael Balfour –  Griffith University
  • Rosie Dennis – Urban Theatre Projects
  • Wesley Enoch – Sydney Festival

Image: Skyline Productions

Professor Jill Bennett

Jill Bennett is founding Director of The Big Anxiety: festival of arts + science + people, staged across Greater Sydney in 2017. She is a writer and visual/media arts curator who also develops immersive media projects in areas relating to mental health, memory and trauma. She is Professor and Director of the National Institute for Experimental Arts (NIEA) at University of NSW, Sydney and in 2017 was awarded the Australian Research Council's Laureate Fellowship for her work in the field of 'experience visualisation’. Her books include Empathic Vision and Practical Aesthetics. 

Helen Medland

With over 20 years of experience working across performance disciplines including theatre, music, dance and live art, Helen Medland has been the driving force behind the creation and growth of The Basement and SICK! Festival (Manchester/ Brighton) from 2000. She oversaw the organisation’s transition from a festival focused organisation, delivering the annual Brighton Fringe, to a leading centre for the presentation and creation of contemporary performance with an international reputation for artistic quality and innovation.  She is responsible for securing the 150-year lease of The Basement’s venue under BHCCs Section 106 ‘Percentage for Art’ scheme and a successful £0.5m capital redevelopment of the venue.

In addition to extensive experience in venue and production management, her current position involves providing dramaturgical support to artists as well as mentoring and advice to workers in the creative industries in the areas of marketing, fundraising, finance and business strategy. In 2012 she conceived and developed the concept and programme for SICK! Festival. The Festival is a new cross art form festival confronting the physical, mental and social challenges of life and death. 

Angharad Wynne-Jones

In 1994 Angharad became Director of Performance Space, Sydney curating an annual performance program and initiating many dynamic new events and festivals, including Pacific Wave, antistatic and cLUB bENT. In 1998 she co-founded contemporary dance company Chunky Move, with Gideon Obarzanek in Melbourne. Angharad joined Peter Sellars as Associate Director for the 2002 Adelaide Festival. In 2005 was appointed Director and CEO of LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre) and on her return to Australia curated and directed the first Australian Theatre Forum in 2009.

From 2011-2017 she was Artistic Director of Arts House, City of Melbourne - a contemporary arts production house, where she developed Dance Massive, initiated Australia’s first international biennial Festival of Live Art and Going Nowhere an environmentally sustainable international arts event, amongst many new, high profile programs.

Angharad is Founder Director of Tipping Point Australia, developing international and local projects with artists, scientists and communities energising the cultural response to climate change. She has been on numerous Boards and Panels including: Australia Council Hybrid, New Media and Dance Boards, Lucy Guerin Inc, & Real Time. She was chair of Mobile States 2011-2017 and is currently on the Australian Performing Arts Market Curatorial Committee, a member of the Australia Council of Learned Academies’ working group on Future Earth Australia and is currently co-designing and delivering NIDA’s MFA Cultural Leadership course.

Angharad was recently appointed Head of Participation at Arts Centre Melbourne.

Jane Crawley

Jane Crawley is an innovative and creative public sector leader with a track record in guiding large and complex arts departments and portfolios as an executive manager. She is currently Creative Victoria’s Director, Arts Investment.

In her role at Creative Victoria, Jane leads a team of arts sector specialists with responsibility for the design and management of the state’s policy and associated investment and funding strategies to support and grow Victoria’s not for profit creative sector. Jane also leads Creative Victoria’s approach to support for and investment in Victorian First Nations and Regional creative practitioners and communities.

Prior to joining Creative Victoria in September 2016, Jane was Manager of Arts Melbourne with Melbourne City Council. During her six years in this role, Jane helped position Melbourne as a leading creative capital. The City’s Arts Strategy is testament to her strategic, big picture thinking and civic and collaborative approach, setting a framework for Melbourne as a prolific and innovative creative environment for artists.

Jane has also established and reformed a number of other portfolios such as compliance and regulatory services and city strategy, planning and design and has worked in the community sector, arts organisations, festivals and community media.

Professor Michael Balfour

Professor Michael Balfour is Chair in Applied Theatre in School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences at Griffith University. He is a theatre researcher and practitioner interested in the social and creative applications of the arts in a range of contexts.

He has written widely on applied theatre, with a particular interest in theatre in conflict and peacebuilding, prison theatre, theatre and migration, theatre, mental health and returning military personnel, and most recently, creative ageing and dementia. Michael’s most recent books are Applied Theatre Resettlement: Drama, Refugees and Resilience (Methuen, 2015), Applied Theatre: Understanding Change, (Springer, in press) and Performing Arts in Prisons (Intellect, in press). He is Co-Series Editor of Bloomsbury Methuen Applied Theatre book series, and on co-editor of Applied Theatre Research and the Journal of Arts and Communities. 

Michael is a member of several leadership bodies, including the Council of Humanities and Social Sciences, Australasian Association of Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies, and Arts and Health Leadership.

Rosie Denis

Rosie Dennis creates work renowned for its universality and currency. She is the current Artistic Director of Urban Theatre Projects (UTP) – a company known for telling stories that are full of humanity and reflect contemporary Australia. Prior to joining UTP Rosie’s work was presented at festivals across Central Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

Wesley Enoch


Wesley Enoch is the Director of the Sydney Festival for 2017-2019.  He has been a theatre director and writer for over 25 years specialising in Aboriginal Theatre and cultural stories. Wesley has been the Artistic Director of companies including Queensland Theatre Company 2010-15, Ilbijerri 2003-06 and Kooemba Jdarra 1994-97, as well as the Festival of Pacific Arts – Australia 2008 and 2012.

As a freelance director and writer Wesley has worked with virtually all the large theatre companies, arts centres and festivals in Australia and won multiple awards including The Patrick White Playwrighting Award, Helpmann Awards for best production and best new Australia work and Matilda Awards. He was a Resident director at Sydney Theatre Company 2000-01, Associate Artistic Director Company B Belvoir 2007-10 and a Director on the Opening Ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games. Wesley was a Trustee of the Sydney Opera House 2006-13 and is currently the Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy Panel for the Australia Council, as well as a number of committees and Boards.