Current board

The Board 2021 – 2022

(as at the Annual General Meeting held on the 31 August 2021)

Woman with blonde hair wearing a watch and white shire

Julia Leu – President

2020 – current

Julia Leu is a local council veteran with over 26 years’ experience and was Mayor of the Douglas Shire Council from 2014 until March 2020, following 6 years as an independent Councillor with Cairns Regional Council. During that time she was involved with numerous innovative and creative local arts and cultural projects. Julia has been involved in Arts Nexus since its inception, as a founding member and encouraged Douglas to be the first Council to officially sign up. As a Community Development Officer, she was involved in establishing the Mossman Douglas Arts Base and was the Regional Arts Development Fund Liaison Officer. Julia also has over 10 years’ experience working in the federal public sector, across diverse communities in Cape York and the Torres Strait, including senior roles in community services and Indigenous education. A passionate advocate for regional communities, Indigenous enterprise, environmental, cultural and social sustainability, Julia values cultural diversity, heritage and inclusiveness.

Julia holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA), a Bachelor of Arts and Graduate Diplomas in Education and Communication (Film & TV Production).  Currently State Library Board of Queensland member and the Chair of the Public Library Advisory Group and a former director of the Australian Coastal Councils Association, Wet Tropics Management Authority, Regional Development Australia, Far North Queensland and Torres Strait Inc, Terrain NRM and the Northern Alliance of Councils Inc.

Sasha D’Silva – Secretary

August 2021 – current

Sasha D’Silva is an Indian born, New Zealander who migrated to Australia a few years ago. Sasha has and continues to learn about her heritage and culture through her parents and grandparents. She moved to Cairns in 2018 and works as a Community Services Officer. With extensive working background within the not for profit sector, community driven projects excites her the most!  
Having completed a double degree Bachelor of Sport and Recreation conjoint Bachelor of Business Degree, Sasha’s studies enable her to use frameworks to confidently engage and work alongside community members to identify, support and develop sustainable and purposeful activities. The Business Degree provides knowledge to network confidently, create strategic action plans, carry out risk analysis and generate accurate reports. 
With a special interest in fabrics especially natural fibers and fabric painting (natural or traditional), Sasha has attended several workshops to learn more about this skill.  She has also taken part in performing arts since a child, however, prefers to be a member of the audience now. 
Sasha is particularly interested in exploring the accessibility of art especially for vulnerable members of our community and would like to put forward her perspective as an migrant.  Joining Arts Nexus board will help her find ways that art can provide opportunities for people to express their identity and tackle problems, crises and issues we face in community.

Diane Forsyth – Vice President

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.

Suzanne (Sue) Shannon

February 2018 – current

Suzanne holds a Bachelor of Arts from Sydney University, N.S.W ; a Bachelor of Social Administration (Social Work) from Flinders University, S.A and a Diploma of Fine Art from the North Adelaide School of Art, S.A. Before retiring as a social worker she worked in mental health in S.A, N.S.W and Qld. – most recently for the Innisfail Community Mental Health Service.

She has lived in FNQ since 1995, first in Cairns and then in the Cassowary Coast Region, living in Mission Beach and farming at Bilyana since 1998. Suzanne is a practicing visual artist in the mediums of acrylic painting and textiles. She was a founding member of the Mission Beach Artists and Craftworkers Association Inc. (MBACA) in 1998.

The MBACA was formed to link and support local artists in Mission Beach and surrounding areas and to provide a sales outlet for their work.  The Mission Beach Community Arts Centre Inc. (Mission Arts) succeeded MBACA opening in 2011. Suzanne was successful with two others in applying to the Gillard Government, under their Stimulus Package, for funding to design and build Mission Arts at MARCS Park, Mission Beach, and to Blueprint for the Bush for funding to equip the new not for profit community arts centre. She was on the executives of MBCAC and Mission Arts from 1999 to 2018, acting as Secretary for most of these terms, also on exhibition committees, planning the annual calendar of exhibitions, as a curator of several exhibitions and writing funding applications.  Sue continues to be passionate about the role of the arts in regional communities.

Dylan Carey

July 2019 – current

Dylan holds a Bachelor of Laws from James Cook University and is a partner at local law firm O’Connor Law.  A Cairns local having lived in Cairns since 1995, completing both his schooling and university in Cairns. Dylan is an active member of a number of community based organisations and boards including:

  • President of the Far North Queensland law Association;
  • Committee member of the North Queensland law Association;
  • Committee member of the Queensland Law Society Early Career Lawyers;
  • Honorary solicitor of the University of the Third Age; and
  • Member of the Far North Queensland Youth Assistance Fund.

Dylan enjoys live music and considers watching touring artists at the Tanks is always a terrific experience.  A regular goer to movie events that groups like End Credits Film Club host and visiting the various exhibitions at the Tanks and the Cairns Gallery.

“I buy a lot of art and read a lot of books so I guess you could say I am a consumer as well. My most recent purchase was a set by Mark Daniel which I want to hang in our new office when we get over there!”  Dylan is passionate about the development of the arts in FNQ and believes that the local economy can be enhanced by a sustainable, productive, and focused arts industry.

Crag Carttling

March 2020 – current

Crag Carttling has a diverse practical and academic background. He has worked across not for profit, government and private sectors. Crag is passionate about work which brings together community groups with the three sectors to create value in innovative ways.

Crag has a long history of working on community projects in the arts, community development, environmental management and economic development. Crag is currently completing a double Masters in Business Administration/ Innovation and Entrepreneurship to further his ability to drive outcomes in such projects. Crag is particularly focused on sustainable enterprise development as a means to tackle wicked problems.

Mill Darby

August 2020 – current

Milly is a business development, partnerships and account director with over twenty years experience in creating and executing fully integrated solutions for clients, stakeholders and the community. A resident of Far North Queensland region for over 15 years. She has worked in the Arts/Creative industry for most of her careers and see and support the value of arts and culture in delivering social, economic and cultural benefits.

Milly was the Business Development Manager at JUTE Theatre Company for three years providing high-level leadership in planning, directing and evaluating all aspects of the role including fundraising, corporate and philanthropic partnerships in line with JUTE’s financial goals and played an integral role with the implementation of innovative business, marketing and communication strategies.

Milly has been a member of the Interim, Reconciliation Work Group (IRWF), Queensland State Emergency Service and was a forum member of the FNQ Regional Community Forum from 2019-2021.

Milly is a current board member for Dancenorth Australia, board observer at Multicultural Australia and Senior Associate is Wendy Brooks & Partners.

Milly remains passionate about empowering communities through education and the arts in Far North Qld.

Ian Kuch

August 2021  – current

Ian Kuch began working as a secondary social science teacher and worked in Indigenous Communities at Mornington Island, Aurukun, Yarrabah. His work moved on to management positions with Aboriginal owned and controlled organisations in commercial and government services including CEO at EmployNet (an Aboriginal owned Job Network provider), Cairns Regional CDEP, Djumbunji Rangers, Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council, former Director of the National Native Title Council and Business Development Manager for Northern Project Contracting. During his tenure at North Qld Land Council as CEO, they achieved over 35 Native Title determinations by consent.  Since 2015 Ian has been semi-retired and continues work as a consultant to Indigenous Community Organisations.

With a strong interest and long involvement in the arts sector, Ian has managed the Gunggandji Dancers, a traditional Aboriginal Dance Troupe touring widely in Australia and Internationally (Christmas Island Casino opening and Mt Hagen Sing Sing, PNG), produced and curated art exhibitions such as ‘From Within’ which showcased Aboriginal art and traditional dance from the Wet Tropics at the Pacific Hotel, Cairns in 1995.  As the EO at Bama Ngappi Ngappi Aboriginal Corporation in Yarrabah in the 1990s, Ian  established an arts production and commercial pottery facility, opening ‘Bama Arts & Craft’, the only Aboriginal-owned arts retail outlet in Cairns at that time.  

When Governance Change Manager for the Yarrabah Aboriginal Shire Council in 2008, Ian sourced State Government funding to stage three highly successful Alcohol Free Community Concerts in Yarrabah, featuring Shane Howard (Goanna), Neil Murray (Warrumpi Band), Joe Geia, Zennith, Black Image and local Yarrabah performers and strongly believes that an active arts program contributes greatly to the community’s social fabric and cohesiveness.  

Married to Julie Haysom, an artist and illustrator, with four wonderful adult children. Julie’s grandfather, Melville Haysom, was a well-known Brisbane artist, critic and teacher who is represented in many public and private collections including the Qld Art Gallery. Ian strongly believes that accountability both to funding agencies, organisation’s members and the general community is the cornerstone of any organisation’s success.