Meet: Vivian, Frances & Nisha

Next Wave welcomes Vivian Cooper as General Manager and Frances Robinson as Lead Program Producer, with Nisha Madhan joining as Lead Creative Producer in early May.

Cooper is an arts manager from Tandanya/Adelaide, currently based in Naarm/Melbourne . She is interested in how contemporary arts practices can be a tool for learning and understanding ourselves, our communities and the wider world. She has worked across the small to medium, academic and local government sectors in various roles to drive audience engagement with contemporary art and artists’ practice. Institutions she has worked with include Tate Galleries, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Adelaide Contemporary Experimental, RMIT INTERSECT, the City of Melton and Signal, the City of Melbourne’s youth arts studio. Cooper holds a Bachelor of Arts (Flinders University) and a Master in Arts and Cultural Management (Deakin University).

‘I’m thrilled to be joining the Next Wave team as General Manager,’ Cooper said. ‘Next Wave’s artistic program has provided me with an abundance of learning throughout my career and I’m excited to step into a leadership role within the organisation. I identify strongly with Next Wave’s values-led approach and how the organisation seeks to prioritise different approaches to knowledge and power, always striving to work from diversity. I look forward to working collaboratively with the Next Wave team in a role dedicated to implementing and refining organisational and operational structures to ensure a sustainable transition from its Festival operating model to one of ongoing relational ways of working with artists, community and audiences.’

Frances Robinson is an experienced producer who has worked across leading cultural institutions, including the Tate Galleries, Biennale of Sydney and, most recently, the Australia Council for the Arts.

Robinson’s practice is driven by a commitment to fairness and societal equity, particularly for/with d/Deaf and disabled artists and leaders. She sees her role as a connector and space-creator and is dedicated to supporting the development of others. As former Manager of Industry Initiatives at the Australia Council, Robinson was instrumental in expanding the Leadership Programs, establishing an international alumni network and developing strategic partnership programs to upskill the sector in advocacy, stakeholder engagement and community organising.

Cultivating care as a form of advocacy is embedded across her work and relationships. Robinson is interested in creating pathways within our sector that imagine new collective futures prioritising reciprocity, generosity and equity.

In May, Nisha Madhan joins Next Wave in the role of Lead Creative Producer. Madhan (India/Aotearoa) is an independent artistic director and producer. Until recently she was the Programming Director of Basement Theatre in Aotearoa/New Zealand, curating the leading independent live performance space since June 2019. Her career includes creating, directing and producing experimental live art, performing on stage and screen, and critical writing. Madhan took part in a three-year arts residency curated by Basement Theatre, Forest Fringe (UK) and West Kowloon Cultural District (HK) and in 2021 was invited to be a guest curator of Live Dreams, a program within the Liveworks Festival of Experimental Art for Performance Space in Sydney. In 2022 she toured her co-creation, Working On My Night Moves, a live art exploration of feminist futures, to RISING in Melbourne. In 2023 she co-directed Aoteroa’s inaugural Festival of Live Art, F.O.L.A. [AKL] in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland. As a practitioner, Madhan is driven by relationships and artist care, and is passionate about creating space for urgent artistry and vital voices.

‘The most exciting thing for me about being invited to join Next Wave is that I get to meet artists and audiences who possess urgent voices, bodies and hearts,’ Madhan said. ‘I cannot wait to use my role to encourage futuristic forms and heart-on-fire content but, most of all, I cannot wait to throw a great big art party with you!’

On these appointments, CEO/Executive Director Jamie Lewis notes “Vivian, Nisha and Frances join us on the leadership team at a pivotal juncture in delivering this strategy. They bring complementary practices, insight and worldviews that will energise and strengthen the Next Wave’s ongoing approach in this shared work of culture building and storytelling.”

Next Wave would also like to thank outgoing General Manager, Jacqueline Hanlin, Senior Producer, Naomi Velaphi, Communications & Development Manager Brigitte Trobbiani and Creative Producer Haneen Martin for shepherding the organisation through the first iterations of change. “We are excited for their adventures ahead - and look forward to working with them across the sector in future.”

  1. Image: Vivian Cooper, Frances Robinson & Nisha Madhan (2023)