2019 Annual Report



Our office is located on Toggerai/Georges River – the place where Tharawal and Darug nations meet. Our work takes us across Tharawal, Deerubbin and Gandangara country. We acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we work, and we pay our respects to elders past, present and emerging.

Who We Are

CuriousWorks is a unique community arts and media organisation that shapes Australia’s cultural future by nurturing new voices, strengthening cultural leadership and telling powerful stories that embrace the cultural vitality in communities, in everyday life. We are a vibrant ensemble of next gen artists, storytellers, media makers and mentors from Western Sydney, working with our own communities and across Australia, to build grassroots innovation, foster social connection, and create inspiring arts experiences that connect us, hold up our truths and resonate with global significance and reach.

Our Model

CuriousWorks’ unique model of community arts and cultural development has been tried and tested over fifteen years, the hallmarks of which are long term grassroots programs, intensive capacity building, genuine economic and employment outcomes, artistic excellence and fostering local cultural and artistic leadership.

Our holistic model has three interlinking pillars that are the foundational blocks of our vision, strategic goals and our program.

  • Artworks – Building the skills and leadership capacity of our ensemble of emerging artists (Curious Creators) through multi-arts workshops, training, masterclasses and artwork creation, in collaboration with communities of Western Sydney.
  • Community – Long term engagement at the grassroots, using community-first practices that enable the people we work with to be more creative, socially connected, valued and visible, through a self-determined co-design process.
  • Social Enterprise – Build diversity in NSW creative industries, create opportunities for young artists to develop professional skills and sustain an independent income stream for CuriousWorks. Our paired employment and on-the-job mentorship program for emerging artists and CACD practitioners which services the digital media, video production and community engagement needs of Western Sydney and beyond.

Chairperson’s Report

Our mission is to generate creative opportunities for diverse communities and new Australian artists. We seek to identify, nurture and build the next generation of storytellers, artists and media makers from Western Sydney’s working class, First Nations and CaLD communities.  The year started with the excitement of Counting & Cracking, a ground-breaking stage play authored by our founder, S. Shakthidharan and produced by Belvoir St Theatre. The show won seven Helpmann Awards and is an exemplar of the work we seek to make and the creative development processes we foster through both CuriousWorks and sister company, Co-Curious. 

The year moved from strength to strength, as the CuriousWorks team led by Vanessa Hyde, played a pivotal role in providing a platform for new Australian artists to produce powerful Australian stories with a national and international reach and impact.  Our talented team made work in collaboration with a multitude of organisations, neighbourhoods, artists and community participants, including Prone to the Drone which featured in the Sydney Film Festival and short film My Name is Mohamed and Raghad, We Don’t Exist Here Anymore which toured to fifteen national and international film festivals.

To help us in the task of growing and governing our activities, Sorrel Palmer and Erandi Samarakoon joined the Management Committee.  I would like to thank them along with all the members of the Management Committee and staff for the energy and commitment given throughout the year in supporting the achievement of our goals.

On behalf of the Management Committee and everyone at CuriousWorks, I want to thank our partners, donors and supporters for making it possible to use the power of storytelling to create empathy, forge connections and build mutual understanding among people of different backgrounds.  Your support has enabled us to make a positive impact in Western Sydney and beyond. 

As I write these words, the COVID-19 crisis has physically distanced us from each other.  Though the future is filled with uncertainty, I believe our artists and storytellers will find new and creative ways to build bridges to understanding and sharing the diverse experiences of living through difficult times and championing our multicultural and multilingual past, present and future.

Melinda Muth
CuriousWorks Committee of Management

CEO’s Report

2019 was a great leap forward in collectively envisaging and shaping the long-term goals and future of CuriousWorks.

Our team, a vibrant ensemble of next gen artists, storytellers, media makers and mentors from Western Sydney, spent the last 12-months collaboratively dreaming and mapping out a strong and ambitious strategy for the organisation going forward: one that engages, inspires and empowers communities on the suburban fringes of Western Sydney through accessible, grassroots engagement in the arts; one that supports a thriving and rich creative industry by unleashing a vibrant, talented ensemble of new artistic leaders into the sector; one that enables the creation of powerful artworks with, by and for communities and emerging artists of Western Sydney; and one that ensures our organization’s long term sustainability through a robust business model and Social Enterprise.

Creative engagement, skills development, art making and mentorship continued on the ground over 2019 – in communities and in schools, and with an incredible bunch of talented professional and emerging artists.

With pride, we celebrated another Curious Creator led short-film (Prone to the Drone) being nationally recognised at the 2019 Sydney Film Festival and Miranda Agular’s first play, Let Me Know When You Get Home, being picked up for production by National Theatre of Parramatta. Caitlin Newton-Broad led CuriousWorks in solidifying deep community partnerships in south west Sydney and Mt Druitt, through grassroots programs like ReFill, Generate 2168 and FUNPARK. Elias Nohra led an exciting new Makers Space program, exploring the future of storytelling through new technology. And we continued to build the integrity and client base of our social enterprise program under the leadership of Steph Vajda, creating on-the-job training, employment opportunities and professional networks for our Curious Creators.

As we all work remotely during this strange COVID-19 period, it is with a warm heart that I look back on the achievements of 2019 and the groundswell of collective energy, optimism and peer support that has been generated over the past 12 months. I would like to thank each and every one of you who has contributed to this and I look forward to you joining us as we embark on the next stages of our collective vision. 

Vanessa Hyde

Impact Snapshot

Productions, Presentation & Touring

In 2019 CuriousWorks provided support, mentorship and creative opportunities for new Australian artists to produce powerful Australian stories with national and international reach and impact. Award-winning short films Prone to the Drone and My Name is Mohamed and Raghad – We Don’t Exist Here Anymore, toured extensively over the year, engaging a broad spectrum of audiences, sparking passionate conversations and driving cultural change. Beyond Refuge: Dialogues and Let Me Know When You Get Home speak to, and reflect, the rich diversity of communities in Western Sydney and champion our multicultural and multilingual past, present and future.

Highlights of our 2019 public program include:

Prone to the Drone

2019 Sydney Film Festival Premiere & Touring

CuriousWorks proudly supported Curious Creator, Shawn Spina in the development and making of his first short film Prone to the Drone, which received Create NSW’s Screenability Film Funding and premiered at the 2019 Sydney Film Festival. The film has screened in multiple cities across Australia and internationally.

Prone to the Drone is a melancholy comedy about loneliness and connection, written by and starring Shawn Spina who has been developing his skills and networks with CuriousWorks since 2013. He is a founding member of the Curious Creators, worked on our first feature film Riz in 2014 and has supported virtually  every project the company has worked on during the past 6 years. Prone to the Drone was developed in CuriousWorks’ peer-led writers group with early script developments presented at 2018 Urban Stories.

Written by and starring Shawn Spina
Directed by Daisy Montalvo
Produced by Miranda Aguilar

Official Page

View Trailer

Look how far 'Prone to the Drone' travelled in 2019!

  • Sydney Film Festival 2019 – State Theatre, Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace
  • Sydney Travelling Film Festival 2019 – Newcastle, Wollongong, Port Macquarie, Huskisson, Sawtell, Toowoomba, Bundaberg, Mackay, Cairns
  • Dumbo Festival, New York City – Shortlisted
  • Arts Activated Conference 2019 (Accessible Arts)
  • Museum of Contemporary Art – Art is for Everyone
  • Hume Housing AGM, Fairfield NSW
  • Flickr Friday’s – CuriousTV Launch, Fairfield NSW
  • Canberra Mental Health Film Festival
  • Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre – Urban Stories
  • Best of the West, NSW – Shortlisted
  • Wide Angle Film Festival
  • Canada Shorts Film Festival – Award of Commendation

beyond refuge: dialogues

Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre Launch & Touring

Beyond Refuge was a three-year creative development program (2016 – 2018) for artists who share an asylum seeker and refugee experience to create new work. Over the course of the program, recently arrived and first generation artists collaborated together to give voice and vision to new stories of our times, from the kernel of an idea through to complete artworks – asserting the beautiful and fundamental rights of every human being to freedom and peace.

In May 2019 CuriousWorks launched the program’s final public outcome – beyond refuge: dialogues – a series of five powerful cinema poems and photo-media works. These have gone on to tour, both as a series and individually, with screenings and artist talks held at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, Head-On Photo Festival, UNSW Diversity Fest, Fairfield City Museum & Gallery and in partnership with Settlement Services International, the peak NSW body for refugee settlement and migrant resources centres.

Discover 'beyond refuge: dialogues'

    1. Ali Azeez – Calendar
    2. Elham BehinAein – New Country, New Hopes
    3. Samia Halabi with Mahdi Mohammedi and Barbara Shefer – Trinity
    4. Daisy Montalvo – El Baile
    5. Ali Mousawi – My Name of Mohammed and Raghad. We Don’t Exist Here Anymore

Official Page

My Name is Mohamed and Raghad – We Don’t Exist Here Anymore

Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre Launch & Touring

Ali Mousawi (Director) and Wesam Al Dabbe (Storyteller) collaborated on a film about life as asylum seekers in Liverpool, Sydney. The fictionalized story draws inspiration from Wesam’s worst nightmare – falling sick in Australia and being unable to care for his two children.

This film is a 12 minute, one shot cinematic feat, with incredible performances by Raghad and her brother Mohammed. Two children race home after school to find their father gravely ill. Their dire situation intensifies with a visit from a social worker and the telescoping of options – no medicare, no Centrelink payments, nowhere to turn – as the bureaucratic nightmare of being stateless in Australia closes in.

Mousawi, the director and lead cinematographer tells this hidden story happening around Australia. Local and international audiences, from Belfast to Amman have connected with the urgency of this short film, which has won six prizes and been selected for seventeen festivals around the world.

Directed by Ali Mousawi

Story by Wesam Al Dabbe

Official Page

Look how far 'My Name is Mohamed and Raghad. We Don’t Exist Here Anymore' travelled in 2019!

  • Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2019: winner of the official jury award for best short film
  • Sydney World Film Festival 2019: winner of the official jury award for best Australian film
  • Boston Short Film Festival 2019
  • Lift-Off Global Network Session 2019
  • Best Shorts Competition (USA) 2019: Winner of Two jury awards; one for best short film and one for disability issues
  • St Kilda Film Festival 2019: Jury award nomination for best director plus Victorian regional Tour
  • jellyFest Film Festival 2019
  • WOW Film Festival Tunisia 2019: Screened in three countries – Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan
  • Dumbo Film Festival 2019 (USA)
  • Illawarra Film Festival, Wollongong NSW
  • Respect Belfast Human Rights Film Festival 2019 (UK)
  • Refugees Welcome Film Fest in Berlin 2019: nominated for jury award for best short film
  • Australian Independent Film Festival 2019: Official Selection
  • ReelOZInd Australia Indonesian Short Film Festival, official selection
  • Super Shorts London Film Festival (UK): BFI Official Selection

Just Visiting

Way Out West Festival Launch & Touring

Makers Space had their debut creative outcome at WOW Festival 2019 with their interactive VR Performance project, Just Visiting. Just Visiting took participants, two at a time, into the world of ‘The Organisation’, a mysterious organisation that needed the participants’ help to answer the ultimate question: WHO ARE THEY?

Since the WOW Festival, Makers Space was invited to share the VR Performance experience at other events and organisations including Fairfield City Museum and Gallery’ One Night at the Museum and our annual showcase Urban Stories.

Learn more about Makers Space here


A Curious Creators Production & Flickr Friday Launch

CuriousTV! was led by the Curious Creators, who are young diverse artists and filmmakers from Western Sydney. They have created five short films about extraordinary young people and their lives in the local Fairfield community. These short films are made by young artists to celebrate young people.

This project has allowed the Curious Creators to gain new skills including project management, budgets, film production and professional communication to continue to develop their careers in media arts, while also connecting with their community. These films were launched on the big screen at Crescent Plaza.

Let Me Know When You Get Home

National Theatre of Parramatta – Creative Development & Casting

Miranda Aguilar’s, Let Me Know When You Get Home,  is a new, coming-of-age Australian play, deconstructing the myth of queer youth needing to “escape” Western Sydney. It draws from personal experience with suburban isolation and Filipinx diasporic identity to create a work which explores the inner lives of isolated queer people and the discomfort that exists when no place fits.

In 2019, CuriousWorks continued our support of the play’s development through the Curious Women Program, engaging experienced performance-maker Valerie Berry, as mentor and Director. Let Me Know When You Get Home was selected as part of Mardi Gras 2019’s PLAYLIST, a partnership program between Seymour Centre, Mardi Gras and Siren Theatre Co, with a showing at the Seymour Centre in February. In April, Miranda presented her work as a part of Q Theatre’s Long Table project (Vonne Patiag’s Homeland curated month). It then underwent a four day creative development in June 2019 which led to its first public reading of the full script at Fairfield PYT. Finally in September Miranda had a week-long residency as part of Sydney Fringe Writer’s in Residency Program.

The work was picked up for National Theatre of Parramatta’s 2020 Season, and was scheduled to have its world premiere on June 18th, 2020 – however this is currently uncertain given the COVID-19 pandemic. More news on this to come!

Urban Stories: Prototype 2019
CuriousWorks’ Annual Showcase Event

Check out Elham BehinAein photos from the night

In November 2019, CuriousWorks’ Urban Stories was held at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre for a night of storytelling and sneak peeks into new works in development. The night opened with a celebration of Shawn Spina’s achievements on Prone to the Drone. There was a staged conversation from the young people lead by Daisy Montalvo who is artist-in residence and co-ordinator for our FUNPARK program; a prototype film chapter from director Sivani Yaddanapudi about migrant mothers’ sacrifice and strength; and a variety of screenings, games and talks developed by artists in the CuriousWomen, ReFILL, Maker Space and Beyond Refuge programs.


Fairfield City Museum & Gallery Exhibition

RITUALS celebrates the glorious diversity of life in South West Sydney, featuring two projects from the CuriousWorks archives: Ritual – a large scale, multi-channel audio-visual projection work directed by Elias Nohra, with new music composed by James Brown; and Meet+Eat – a documentary series of short films celebrating people, connection and the sharing of food. Rituals was exhibited at the Fairfield City Museum and Gallery from December 2019 through to February 2020.

Artistic leadership & Industry Development

As a development hub, CuriousWorks’ collaborated with, employed and seeded to practice 24 young artists from Western Sydney over 2019 through our various emerging artist and community programs. Through these programs, artists have engaged in ongoing training, mentorship and project experience, spanning across CuriousWorks’ three pillars – grassroots community engagement, artwork creation and social enterprise. 

Curious Creators Ensemble

Nurturing & building the next generation

The Curious Creators Ensemble is a platform for emerging Western Sydney artists, working within the context of their local communities – to develop new Australian work. Through the Ensemble, artists are exposed to a dynamic series of multi-arts workshops and mentorships, with a range of professional training from creative masterclasses to peer-led practice, covering diverse areas from innovative new media to filmmaking, scriptwriting, community engagement and best-practice protocols – guided by leading artistic innovators and multi-disciplinary Australian artists.

Over 2019 the Curious Creators Ensemble collaborated across a number of public artistic outcomes including Prone to the Drone, CuriousTV! and Just Visiting. They also seeded an exciting spectrum of new creative ideas and prototypes through the Makers Space and Curious Women Programs, which were presented at our end of year showcase, Urban Stories: Prototype in November 2019.

Learn more about our fabulous ensemble of emerging artists here

Listen to our emerging artists as they reflect on their personal and professional journeys with CuriousWorks:

The Audacity to Expect What You Deserve

A Letter to My Past Self

Making to Create

Curious Women
Leadership for Australian women artists 

In 2019, eleven CuriousWomen participants were paired to meet with mentors and Australian leaders in their fields to discuss their ambitions and receive advice and support from these industry leaders. CuriousWomen artists: Daisy Montalvo, Jessica Phoebe Hanna, Amira Halabi, Samia Halabi, Miranda Aguilar, Jesica Montalvo, Sivani Yaddanapudi, Elham BehinAein, Samantha Barahona, Andrea Beeten and Sandra May.

Mentors: Mireille Juchau, Valerie Berry, Alejandra Canales, Fadia Abboud, Sarah Emery and Jen Dolin. With thanks to Mark Taylor, Nat Rose, Gary Paramanathan, Christina Alvarez, Pippa Bailey, Aunty Lyn Watson, Marwa Almunajed and Laura Luna Zamora.

Creating a safe space for the people you work with is important so that we can best work together. I think through the CuriousWomen program there was a lot of opportunities for us to be vulnerable and I think that’s really important when it comes to building relationships with the people you work with. I’m running an arts program as part of my CuriousWomen project and the mentorship and support that I’ve been given through this program has been great because the mentors and women around me have been great inspirations and role models.” – Daisy Montalvo, artistic lead on FUNPARK, film-maker

Makers Space

Exploring the future of story-telling through new technology 

Makers Space is an exciting initiative exploring the future of story-telling through new technology. Thirteen emerging artists have been given the opportunity to learn about emerging artistic mediums and how they can utilise them in their own practice through a year-long workshop series led by digital artist and long-time CuriousWorks’er, Elias Nohra. Four intensive “master classes” from established artists gave further in-depth insights into augmented reality (Eyejack AR), sound (James Brown), virtual reality (Curtis Taylor) and the intersection of new media and traditional performance (Murasaki Penguin).

Makers Space premiered their first public outcome, an interactive theatre/VR experience called Just Visiting, at the 2019 WOW Festival for Children, and delivered repeat performances at Fairfield City Museum & Gallery  Night at the Museum and CuriousWorks’ Urban Stories showcase. The ideas and explorations pursued in the Makers Space workshops have influenced FUNPARK projects and CuriousWorks community workshops while the ensemble continues to develop new interactive works into 2020.

Annual Story Circle
Pause, Reflect, Listen, Dream 

In November 2019, CuriousWorks held our second annual Story Circle as a one day event for staff and Curious Creators to come together to reflect on the year and look into the future. Together we discussed highlights and lowlights of the year and improvements to make for the future. This was also a time to reflect on everyone’s skills, strengths and professional development goals. We met in the city at the lovely Bustle Studios, followed by our Christmas party to celebrate our 2019 achievements.

CuriousWorks’ annual Story Circle is a platform for collective ownership and visioning within the company, enabling stories and empowering collective artistic leadership.

An Inspired Community

Over 2019, our grassroots multi-arts and digital media programs engaged over 713 participants at the beginning of their creative journey, through ReFill, FUNPARK, WOW Festival and our community engaged Social Enterprise projects. These programs, designed with community partners, help young people develop their voice, build confidence and positive mental health, learn valuable creative skills and establish a pride in the place they live and capacity to imagine a positive future.

Multi-Arts in Community Program 

FUNPARK is a sustained arts engagement project presented in and for the Mt Druitt community, guided by a coalition of five acclaimed community partners (Bidwill Uniting, PYT Fairfield, CuriousWorks, Learning Ground Mt Druitt and Blacktown Arts Centre) and led by artist-in-residence and 2019 ‘Chifley Young Woman of the Year’, Daisy Montalvo.

Over 2019, Daisy ran workshops engaging local high school students from Chifley College Bidwill Campus in filmmaking, storytelling and citizen journalism, and under the mentorship of acclaimed music producer, Michael Moebus, they also created their own music. Creative outcomes included a documentary about teachers and a series of four one-minute short films. In Term 4, Daisy engaged with Learning Ground, Mt Druitt’s YAP after school program where participants created a story for a game/theatre performance with the intention for it to be performed at FUNPARK 2020.

In September, FUNPARK presented short films at Bidwill Festival and in October an Augmented Reality artwork was shared at Community Connect, a local community services event. As part of ChangeFest in November, FUNPARK presented a curated conversation with young local leaders about their lived experiences of growing up in Bidwill and the continuing problems young people in Western Sydney face on a day-to-day basis. FUNPARK was scheduled to be part of NIRIN – 2020 Biennale of Sydney, held in April 2020, however unfortunately this event has now been postponed given the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. More news on this to come!

Multi-Arts in Education Program 

ReFILL Arts in Education partnership is an ongoing, long-term and deep engagement with Miller Technology High School and surrounding neighbourhood, offering access to hands-on creative arts practice, including networks for life across some of Sydney’s leading cultural institutions. It is co-designed with the Head of Community Engagement at Miller Technology High School to reach, engage and enrich young people’s skills, self-efficacy and creativity. In 2019 we continued with the STEAM focused program, including a study of the local environment as a key focus and a partnership with Junglefy, Living Architecture leaders in exploring the interface between our built environment, design thinking and ecological awareness.

Casula Powerhouse provided its spaces for a Creative Transition and Ignition Day and ReFill’s annual creative contribution to Casula Powerhouse’s Way Out West Festival for Children in 2019 was Edible Country. The Australian Film, Television and Radio School provided a whole day excursion to their state-of-the-art facilities to explore guerilla filmmaking, and the Georges Riverkeepers connected the program to the deep ecological and cultural value of the Georges River/Toggerai.

View another year of wonder and creativity on the ReFill blog

Project details and full credits here

WOW Festival Kids Reporter Program

The Way Out West Kids Reporter Program is an exciting media program for children 8 to 12 years and includes training in event reporting, filming techniques and interviews. Coordinated by CuriousWorks, WOW Kids Reporters are supported to work as a team to film the annual Way Out West Festival at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre. The 2019 program was led by Curious Creator, Shawn Spina in collaboration with Steph Vajda, Samantha Barahona and Sivani Yaddanapudi and involved 15 young reporters documenting the events and interviewing festival visitors over four days. For the first time the Kids reporters live-streamed their reports to Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre Facebook, to much success and acclaim!

Watch the 2019 live stream video and see project details here

A Growing Social Enterprise

Social Enterprise is the foundation of CuriousWorks’ sustainability. Delivered through CuriousWorks’ CACD framework, it is part of how we engage meaningfully with communities on social and cultural issues that

matter to them; it fosters trusting relationships across health, cultural development and community education contexts; it is an independent earned income stream for CuriousWorks; and importantly, it is a large part of how our emerging artists get paid, on-the-job training and develop professional skills, industry links, community networks and employment pathways.

In 2019 we employed 13 experienced community artists and filmmakers, paired with 24 young, aspiring trainee artists to work on a wonderful range of socially engaged community projects with our clients and partners. Some of the 2019 highlights include:

Journey to Social Housing

In partnership with Wentworth Housing

Journey to Social Housing shares courageous stories from older residents living in social housing across Penrith, Hawkesbury and the Blue Mountains. Through films, audio stories and photographs they share with us their lives and experiences of journeying to find secure housing for themselves and their families. CuriousWorks’ emerging facilitators Sivani Yaddanapudi and Shawn Spina, alongside experienced lead facilitator Steph Vajda, were engaged to facilitate community engagement workshops and consultations with tenants and produce these deeply moving and honest series of film, photographic and audio stories. The project launched in March 2019 at The Joan in Penrith.

Learn more about the project here.

Passage: Stories of Migration & Belonging

In Partnership with University of Wollongong & Settlement Services International

Passage: Stories of Migration and Belonging is a series of short films created through workshops facilitated by CuriousWorks with University of Wollongong South West Sydney and Settlement Services International. It paired migrant students with recently arrived refugees to collaboratively find common ground in their stories and worldviews. Through vigorous discussions on the themes of migration, belonging and community each pair developed their film concept with the support and guidance of our emerging facilitators, Sandra May and Diego Murillo, under the mentorship of StephVajda.

Learn more about the project here.

A snapshot into Liverpool Migrant Businesses

A pilot project in partnership with Liverpool City Council

CuriousWorks, in collaboration with Liverpool City Council and local migrant businesses in Liverpool, produced two short films showcasing the innovative and rich stories behind migrant/refugee business owners in Liverpool. These short films share stories of their arrival in Australia, and how they developed and built their unique local business models and communities. Sivani Yaddanapudi, an emerging filmmaker and director took the lead on these works, under the mentorship of Steph Vajda.


Operations & Staffing

This year we invested considerable time and energy into the consultation and writing of our new five-year Strategic Plan (2020 – 2024), artistic vision and goals. This plan was submitted as part of our bid for 4-year operational funding to Australia Council for the Arts and Create NSW.

Claudia Chidiac, a longtime supporter and advocate of CuriousWorks, was bought in as strategic consultant to help us shape this vision and to support the team with her wealth of experience and knowledge of the sector. We also sourced the expertise of creative producer, Caitlin Gibson, who provided us with clarity and guidance in revising our communications and distribution strategy. Thank you to both women for their excellent contribution over the year.

Over 2019, structures and programs were put in place for leadership opportunity and succession planning for our emerging artists. In early 2019, CuriousWorks were thrilled to announce three new salaried positions opened to Curious Creators. Daisy Montalvo was appointed Artist in Residence on FUNPARK, a 2 day/week position supported by Create NSW’s Western Sydney Making Spaces grant. Miranda Aguilar commenced in the role of Communications and Social Media Officer and Andrea Beeten was appointed in the role of Finance and Administration support. These roles sit alongside a wealth of paid creative opportunities for other Curious Creators as contracted artists. We also spent time developing a model for our new Emerging Artistic Directorate, which we will roll out over the coming year.

In May we farewelled Andy Ko from the team. Over his two years with the organisation, Andy contributed immensely towards building the operational systems, policies and procedures and good governance of CuriousWorks. We thank him for his dedication and keen eye for detail in the role.

In September we also farewelled Steph Vajda, who, after a successful year of steadily building the social enterprise program and providing mentorship and guidance to our Curious Creators, moved back to him hometown of Brisbane. We wish them both all the best in their next endeavours.

Management Committee

In May 2019, we farewelled Melody Ng after 5 years of services on the Committee. A big thank you to Melody for her dedication and legal expertise in the role over many years. We also welcomed three new members – Sorrel Palmer and Erandi Samarakoon, who both joined the Management Committee in February, and Miranda Aguilar who joined in October.

Sorrel is a public lawyer with a strong interest in social justice and she brings considerable arts-law expertise to the MC. Erandi is a sustainability strategy and governance expert and is currently Macquarie Group’s global lead for Social and Environmental Risk in Corporate Operations. Erandi brings deep knowledge of sustainability strategy and creative solutions to deliver a positive impact in society. Miranda is a queer Filipina artist and writer, living and working in Western Sydney. She is CuriousWorks’ first Emerging Artistic Directorate representative on the Management Committee.


Financial sustainability and strengthening the diversity of our income streams remain fundamental priorities for the organisation. In 2019 we saw a 42% growth in our Social Enterprise earned income, a testament to the great work of Steph Vajda.

Total revenue for the year, however, fell to $608,589 (from $913,401 in 2018). This is largely due to the separation of our sister company, Co-Curious at the start of 2019, as well as a stop to core funding from Australia Council for the Arts. Surplus for the financial year amounted to $30,425 (2018: $55,152), with total retained earnings at years’ end of $205,432.

Our Audited Financial Statements for the year ending 31 Dec 2019 can be viewed here

2019 Staff

CEO – Vanessa Hyde
Community Director – Caitlin Newton-Broad
Ensemble & Makers Space Lead – Elias Nohra
Strategic Consultant & Partnerships – Claudia Chidiac
Social Enterprise Director – Steph Vajda (until Sept 2019)
Administration Officer – Andy Ko (until May 2019)
Website & Design – Huy Nguyen
Communications Officer – Miranda Aguilar
Finance Officer – Andrea Beeten
FUNPARK Coordinator & Artist in Residence – Daisy Montalvo


2019 Management Committee Members

Chairperson – Melinda Muth
Treasurer – Easha Ranasinghe
Public Officer – Rachel Kerry
Secretary – Andrew Maiden
General Member –  Sorrel Palmer
General Member – Melody Ng (until May 2019)
General Member – Erandi Samarakoon
General Member – Joshua Butt
General Member – Miranda Aguilar (from Nov 2019)
General Member – Vanessa Winley (until Aug 2019)


In 2019 CuriousWorks was proudly supported by:

The Federal Government through the Australian Council for the Arts
The NSW Government through Create NSW
Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
Crown Resorts Foundation
Packer Family Foundation
Fairfield City Council
Liverpool City Council
Blacktown City Council
Penrith City Council
Campbelltown City Council

In 2019 CuriousWorks proudly partnered with:

Australian Film, Television and Radio School
Bidwill Uniting
Blacktown Arts Centre
Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre
Core Community Services
Diversity Arts Australia
Evolve Housing
Fairfield City Council, Whitlam Library
Fairfield City Museum & Gallery
Heaps Decent
Hume Community Housing
Ingham Institute
Junglefy – Living Architecture Specialists
Learning Ground Mount Druitt
Liverpool Neighbourhood Connections
Lost in Books
Miller Technology High School
Mission Australia
Museum of Contemporary Arts
Musica Viva
National Theatre of Parramatta
PYT Fairfield
Settlement Services International
Sydney Culture Network
Sydney Film Festival
Sydney Travelling Film Festival
SydWest Multicultural Services
The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith
The Miller Hub
University of New South Wales
University of Wollongong
Wentworth Housing
Western Sydney Migrant Resource Centre
Western Sydney University

Level 3, Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre
1 Powerhouse Road, Casula, NSW, 2170
PO Box 112, Liverpool, NSW, 1871
P: (+61) 2 9602 9568
Email: contact@curiousworks.com.au
Website: www.curiousworks.com.au
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube & Vimeo: @curiousworks