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Rachel Kent announced as new CEO of Bundanon ahead of new museum opening this november
Rachel Kent. Photo: Anna Kucera.

ILLAROO.- The Chairman of Bundanon Trust’s Board of Directors, Jennifer Bott AO, announced today the appointment of Rachel Kent as the new CEO of Bundanon Trust after a six-month international search and recruitment process. Rachel will commence on 6 September 2021. She will work with current CEO, Deborah Ely AM, on a full handover in the period leading up to this date. Deborah Ely announced her decision to step down from the role in December 2020.

Rachel Kent is an experienced arts leader, art historian, and head curator with extensive experience working with international museums and cultural institutions as well as extended family connections in the Shoalhaven region. She is currently Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia where she leads the curatorial team, delivering its artistic vision and programs. Rachel is an outstanding advocate for contemporary and First Nations art and for the MCA, nationally and internationally, as well as being highly effective at building philanthropic and government support for the arts.

Jennifer Bott AO, Chairman of Bundanon Trust’s Board of Directors, said of the appointment: “On behalf of the Board of Directors of Bundanon, I am thrilled to congratulate and welcome Rachel Kent as the new Chief Executive Officer of Bundanon. Rachel was appointed from an extraordinarily competitive field of men and women of outstanding ability and achievements. Rachel is extremely well placed to take Bundanon on this huge next step in our development. This will not only be reflected in the stunning new Art Museum, the Bridge for creative learning, accommodation and visitor facilities, and the associated programs and activities which will be on offer, but also on the impact which the new Bundanon will have on cultural tourism, jobs, educational activities, and creative opportunities for local, national and international markets. Rachel has an amazing range of skills and experiences which will enable her to be an inspiring and effective leader in all these diverse areas.”

Rachel Kent said of the appointment; “I’m enormously pleased and honoured to take up the role of CEO at the Bundanon Trust. A unique cultural and environmental asset, Bundanon holds a treasured place in the hearts of Australians, including myself. Gifted to the nation in 1993 by the artist Arthur Boyd, it offers the largest creative residency program in the country alongside educational and conservation programs, situated within the extraordinary natural landscape of the Shoalhaven, on Wodi Wodi and Yuin country. With the imminent completion of its new facilities, Bundanon is at an exciting crossroads. This expansion will change the face of the organisation dramatically, widening public access, deepening engagement in creativity and the landscape, and positioning it nationally and internationally. I look forward to inaugurating this new chapter in Bundanon’s history – building on its past achievements and opening its doors wide to new audiences and generations, going forwards.”

Jennifer Bott AO acknowledged Deborah Ely’s extraordinary legacy and work on behalf of the Australian people over a tenure of 15 years: “Deborah has been an outstanding leader of Bundanon. Words seem inadequate to cover the extent of the impact she has made as Bundanon’s longest-serving CEO. She has built stakeholders, resources, supporters, and programs linking landscape, environment, First Nations, artistic and scientific enquiry with creative voices and local knowledge, expanding the breadth and depth of Bundanon’s reach and impact. She has created an organization focused on excellence with minimal resources while building a vision for a Masterplan which we are about to see revealed. Ultimately, the Bundanon journey and this manifestation of the Boyd vision will be Deborah’s great legacy.”

Outgoing Bundanon CEO Deborah Ely stated, “It has been a privilege to steward Bundanon during a period of substantial growth and to have contributed to the shaping of a new way of understanding the role cultural institutions can play within the context of local dialogue, First Nations custodianship, climate change and unwavering support for artistic endeavour during precarious times. Throughout this important period in the company’s history, I have worked with so many talented artists, and alongside passionate staff and Board members. I am grateful for the incredible support I have received from them, from across the Australian arts community and from the Shoalhaven region, who have wholeheartedly shared the vision for Bundanon. Within the next few months, Bundanon will see the full maturation of Arthur and Yvonne Boyd’s gift. It is time for new leadership to further expand on their vision.”

The construction of the Art Museum and Bridge for creative learning is on schedule, opening to the public in November this year. In this year’s Commonwealth budget, Bundanon secured additional funding of $7.1million, ensuring the resources to launch the new facilities and the opening program and position Bundanon as a national tourist and cultural hub for regional Australia, increasing employment and prosperity in the Shoalhaven.

Rachel Kent is the Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Australia and has worked with the organisation for two decades, 11 years as Chief Curator. She has presented exhibitions in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the United States, and Canada working with artists such as Yoko Ono, Grayson Perry, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Tatsuo Miyajima, David Goldblatt, Cornelia Parker and Doug Aitken. She leads the museum’s curatorial team, shapes the artistic vision for the organisation, and advocates for creative culture on national and international platforms.

Rachel’s exhibitions have been presented at the Brooklyn Museum, New York; National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC; MCA San Diego; Musee d’art contemporain de Montreal; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. She sits on editorial, academic and government advisory panels, and speaks and publishes widely on modern and contemporary art. Rachel is the editor and author of multiple award-winning artist monographs, working with Prestel, Phaidon and Thames & Hudson. She is an international juror for art awards in Asia and Europe, including Artes Mundi 9 in Cardiff, Wales (2019-21) and the Queen Sonja International Print Award, Oslo, Norway (2021-22).

Rachel has extensive public speaking and engagement experience, interviewing Yoko Ono (2013) and Grayson Perry (2015) at the Sydney Opera House; delivering artist talks for Frieze London, and chairing panels for the St James Ethics Centre, Amnesty International and Sydney Policy Institute. She speaks on a range of topics encompassing creativity and the visual arts, environmental themes, and human rights. In February 2020 she delivered a TEDx talk on Art & Interconnection in difficult times. She is passionate about creativity in all its forms, including live art, performance, and music, as well as architecture and design.

Rachel completed her postgraduate studies at The University of Melbourne; and is a graduate of the Women and Leadership Australia (WLA) advanced leadership program.

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