Current board

The Board 2018-19

as at the Annual General Meeting held on the 19 June 2018


Jenuarrie – President

2015 – current

My mother’s father’s traditional country is Koinjmal – (Eastern coastal plains of Central Queensland) and I currently reside in Cairns. I was born and educated in Rockhampton and began my career in the ARTS in 1984. I graduated from the Cairns TAFE College where I obtained an Associate Diploma in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Visual Arts and completed numerous certificate courses for Adult learners to assist me to achieve higher levels of qualifications relevant to my visual arts practice as an artist and an industry arts worker. Early in my professional arts career, (1990) I chaired the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Board Visual Arts Panel and was a Committee member on their National Committee before I undertook to commit to a term on the Visual Arts, Craft and Design of the Australia Council in peer assessment and policy development. I was later nominated as a Panel Member on the Arts Advisory Committee to the Minister for the Arts in the Arts Office, Brisbane (name later changed to Arts Queensland). I managed my own arts training business enterprise as a self employed, self sufficient practicing artist with my own private workshop /studio facilities for 12 years (no grant) before commencing work as the Arts Queensland, FNQ Industry Development Consultant for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art. I held this position for 14 years until recently retiring.


Diane Forsyth – Treasurer

2012 – current

Diane Forsyth has a background in the Community Sector as a Psychotherapist. Diane has vast experiences working with at risk and disadvantaged people, owned and managed her own business and recently as an elected representative in Local Government Cairns Regional Council (2008-12) where she was able to influence and support new and innovative creative projects representing $150 million cultural entertainment precinct. Diane is active on many Boards and Councils of non-Government organisations and a board member on the Cairns Regional Art Gallery for many years. Diane remains committed to the principles of the organisation and supporting sustainable environments and appropriate tropical development with a vibrant and creative arts cultural heart in Cairns.


Velvet Eldred – Vice President

2016 – current

Velvet Eldred works across industries in Arts, therapy, profession and community theatre and disability. Her passion is inclusive theatre and has worked in regional and remote areas. Calling cairns home for the last 20 years Velvet has worked with Jute, On Edge, Tropical Arts, The Buskers Festival, Comedy Club, The Rhondo, ARC Disability Services, St John’s and Arts Nexus. Velvet worked for the Cairns Festival directing the New York Theatre Company and with Award winning documentary maker Alix Lambert (USA). Velvet also creates her own independent work Lush Cabaret which took out the Cairns Post Awards for Best Theatre 2013 and won Cairns Women of the Year 2012. Velvet has recently started making films. Velvet is an actor, theatre maker; producer, director, drummer and writer who loves to work collaboratively. She has been on the board of tropical Arts for 5 years.


Ben Keast – member

2017 – current

Benjamin Keast, Chief Executive Officer, ARC Disability Inc. has worked for ARC in a variety of roles covering Administration, Direct Support, Coordination, Health & Safety, Return to Work & Rehabilitation, Human Resources, Chief Operations Officer and currently in the role of Chief Executive Officer. ARC supports over 350 Service Users within the Cairns and Far North Community, and employs around 200 staff. Ben was a finalist in the 2013 Australian Institute of Management’s Not for Profit Manager, and in 2016 was a part of the Cairns Chamber’s Emerging Leaders Program. Ben is currently associated with a number of community groups and networks whist also completing his Master in Business Administration through the Australian Institute of Business. Benjamin is passionate about good governance and operations, as well as ensuring a truly inclusive community within all facets of life.


Frances Harrison – member

2018 – current

Governance | Boards | Working Groups | Committees

An Executive Director with over 15 years‘ leadership experience with the Public and Private sectors across the Transport Infrastructure (roads), Energy (gas), Maritime, Mining (iron ore, nickel, coal, alumina), and Construction (oil and gas) sectors. Key areas of expertise include corporate governance, strategy development, organisational culture stewardship, professional team leadership, change agency, operational risk minimisation, and financial acumen. Most recently an Executive Director for a $2b State Government Enterprise.

Frances has recently  joined the board of Arts Nexus, currently the Chairperson for the Occupational Health and Safety Committee (and at Main Roads), Chair the Workforce Committee, sponsored the Healthy Workplace working group and committee member of the Industrial Relations Society in Western Australia for 2 years and have provided pro-bono advice to boards in WA.


Karyn Lawson – member

2018 – current

Karyn moved to Cairns over 30 years ago having been drawn to the area because of its relaxed charm, cultural diversity and tropical climate.
Karyn has a strong background in accounting, business management and administration, spanning a wide range of organisations and industries. She is also a partner in an award-winning building design studio that focuses on creating unique and sustainable homes.

Throughout her career, her love of travel and a natural curiosity for exploring cultural practices has led her to pursue other interests, such as studying oriental health sciences as well as foster a passion for the arts. Karyn has experimented in the practices of fabric printing and textile crafts, photography, mosaics and silver smithing. She was also the co-creator in a bespoke handbag design and manufacture business. Karyn regularly attends arts festivals and is now actively volunteering within the local community.

Karyn hopes to share her skills and her passion for learning by supporting creativity and cultural awareness as part of Arts Nexus.


Jenny Brown – member

Coopted October 2018

Jenny’s career in education involving school teaching, adult education, vocational training, and community education and the various principal structures within the employing organisations, has given her multi-layered experience in governance and strategic planning.

As an avid lover of tropical living, Jenny has worked in local schools, businesses and organisations such as The Learning Workshop, Lifeline, Gill Corporation, Frog-friendly Gardening and more recently, Tenants Queensland.

Jenny is passionate in presenting informative, interactive workshops that help people redesign their lives to be more productive according to their purpose. Jenny has developed her own set of design skills through the application of her qualifications in Education, Sustainability and Permaculture.

Jenny knows a diverse range of local artists and relishes the creative talent in FNQ. She was there to support arts workers in the early days of FNCIA and looks to continue strengthening her network connections for the progress of Arts Nexus.

On any given day you may find her tucked away in her shed, the creative epicentre of her recycled timber projects, coffee in hand, enjoying the moment.