Our members

Voices from Far North Queensland region

Testimonials from our network

CASE STUDIES – there is more between the lines!

Tropical Arts Inc. is a Cairns-based community theatre organisation which has won awards for inclusion, bringing skills and joy to a diverse range of participants. 

Tropical Arts promotes a strength-based approach and belief in finding a pathway for all into theatre. Tropical Arts has enjoyed a long partnership with Arts Nexus and its members over more than a decade, during which time we have emerged as a feature in the Cairns Cultural Landscape.

It is very important to Tropical Arts that our region has a locally based, capacity building, member run agency.  A recognised agency which unites the sector is essential to articulate our needs, aspirations and concerns to government and keep us informed about National Arts conversations and opportunities.  The network of connections made by Arts Nexus provide the support that allows community-driven groups like Tropical Arts to not just exist but to thrive.”

Cliff Wiseman

Aboriginal Elder and Country Music Songwriter/Performer. Releasing soon, his own produced debut CD, in North QLD and touring further afield.

“Arts Nexus has been a touchstone on my creative journey.

Assisting, with professional, artistic development such as intellectual property protection & copyright advice. Resourcing me with network links & music/venue ideas, that have guided me like stepping stones.

Arts Nexus is attuned to Elders, strengthening their own cultural beliefs meaningfully, in this day & age, fusing ancient cultural understandings with tech savvy prowess. Thanks Arts Nexus !”


Indigenous Youth Social Action Circus, Kuranda, Qld

“We support the great work done by this essential and progressive organisation. Working with the team over the past 15 years has been nothing but inspirational. Working in the field of community cultural development is always challenging. Our region is well known for our social challenges nearly as well as our beautiful environment. As the Founder and Facilitator, Arts Nexus were pivotal in assisting me to step out into the bigger world, find connections and keep on keeping on. Nearly all of our tangible markers have been reached only with the professional, empathic support of the folks on this team.

As a result some of our young people have had constant employment opportunities offered to them, from across the spectrum of the professional arts industry, because of this support. We have been given accolades for still being, not having “burnt out” but in all truth, without the supportive existence of Arts Nexus, I don’t think this would be the case.

As we are about to pick up the reins, once again, to reinvigorate the project and ourselves, we will be looking to Arts Nexus for the provision of all the advice, guidance and overall support they provide us with. I trust they will be given such themselves from any relevant body, as it’s in the connections that the health/wealth of our arts industry becomes so apparent.”

With respect, Kelli Craig, Founder “Blackrobats”


Selection of quotes from members of Arts Nexus and stakeholders that have shared their views either in a recent survey or a letter of support.

“Arts Nexus plays a pivotal role in the formulating of Cairns being considered the “Art Capital” of QLD.”

Gillian Townsend, Chair JUTE Theatre

“Thank you Arts Nexus. It is so exciting to find you. I have always been an independent player in this industry and it is great to know that there is support for those of us who need advice and direction. AND thanks for the job. Working with Melissa and Arts Nexus is great. It’s wonderful to be part of a team whos primary goal is all about helping.”

Claire Tierney, Fabulous Events Provider

“….. professional, covered all aspects of the RADF program and the knowledge and experience in grants and funding provided by Arts Nexus was a wealth of information. The time allocation and structure were well considered. All the participants in the information session gave feedback ranging from ‘good’ to ‘very good’ for advertising, venue, time slot, duration, handouts, session content and opportunities to clarify questions.”

Participant feedback from Douglas Shire RADF training

“So far, for me, the greatest strength of the Hot Desk has been the opportunity to meet with representatives of other arts disciplines as well as newcomers to town. I guess that what happens next is up to us.”

Jill Booth, Artist

“I took something away from each Arts Nexus event I’ve been too, particularly in strengthening the relationships in the community. It is an important part of my arts business.”

Anthony Ring, Film Maker

“Networking was a major interest for me. Learnt about social media. Tec Tuesdays are good. I will be back. I would like more training and capacity building, in various areas. I hope that Arts Nexus gets stronger and is well supported by government.”

Eve Stafford, founder and member since 1995

“I recently found a testimonial that I wrote 10 years ago, which is still resonant today. My relationship with Arts Nexus has now spanned 16 years. What I said then, and still stand by now, is that Arts Nexus is vital to the ongoing survival of my business by creating, supporting, and sustaining relationships. At the time, I had recently taken the leap of faith to cease regular employment.

Arts Nexus quickly recognised this and actively assisted me in creating relationships, some of which are ongoing, particularly the Tropical Writers Group of Far North Queensland and the Tropical Writers Festival. In short, there is no other organisation in Cairns or Far North Queensland that is as willing, or is able to broker the links or relationships between community, business and government as Arts Nexus does, and the continuation of this organisation is paramount to the continued growth and development of the arts and associated industries in a region that is growing as rapidly as Cairns.”

Bernadette Curnock, BCDesign, Member for 16 years

“Arts Nexus in an essential service I find the events are vital support for the local arts community. I work on 4CA radio and I use “Entertainment Cairns” as a reference for our “Whats On” segment. I think its important to support local events in getting the news out about whats on.   I used to attend a project called “Meeting of the Minds” I would love to revive this. We used to sit around and discuss projects that we would like to see in the future, bounce ideal off each other. One of the guys spoke about wanting to set up an AUSTRALASIAN THEATRE CO. And he had done this. its fantastic.”

Sarah Speller, member since 2005

“Arts Nexus have an amazing ability to seek out opportunities to advocate and create exciting connections for a plethora of arty people including Katerini Manolatos and myself as passionate vocal coaches.”

Gail Rogers, Vocal Bootcamp

“I work in the Theatre of Contemporary Art in the lighting department. The event helped me learn skills about pitching ideas, which has been very helpful in my work environment. The skills I learnt at the event supported my confidence to express my ideas about lighting and design at work. I would like to see more networking events in the future.”

Eben Love, Theatre Technician, CoCA. New member, young person

“I am a professional musician who works in niche and community fields, and have received grants in support of my work from other places.  I’m new to Cairns and as I learn about the community and how to best bring my gifts to the community, how to get involved, I’ve found that Arts Nexus is a visible body offering support for artists of all levels, welcoming body and it’s good to know that they are around.  The members I’ve met are friendly and accessible, and are interested in and support community artistic projects and endeavours I’m involved in.  As an artist I know that when I’m ready to put forward a project, I’ll be able to go to them to seek guidance in the best way to go forward – they’ll be the first stop for advice.”

Natalia Mann, Harp Connection

“Arts Nexus has had a big impact on my life in my arts practice in this regional location.  I connected with Arts Nexus first when I was an emerging professional community theatre director and the festival I was running, was wiped out by Cyclone Yasi in 2006.  The Arts Nexus CCD workers, Eve Stafford and Melissa Robertson offered a drop in triage support service and turned my world back the right way up.  Since then, I have become more and more involved in Arts Nexus as I have grown as a practitioner and am now a recognised arts and cultural leader.

Living and building an arts career in FNQld has been a very challenging and at times, lonely, confusing, frustrating and isolated.  Arts Nexus has been a vital link to colleagues, knowledge, skills and support for over 10 years, which has helped enormously to develop my practice and the community theatre organisation, Tropical Arts, which I co-founded in 2007.

I have been with Arts Nexus as a member, volunteer, board member and importantly as an employee – because it has provided a part of the portfolio of arts-based employment opportunities, which have sustained my career for over 15 years.  This employment has been of great benefit to me and I hope that my services, in turn, have helped support the wide scope of artists and arts practices that Arts Nexus connects.”

Avril Duck, Community Theatre Director

“I was recently down in SE Queensland meeting with some clients to sign a contract on delivering art and cultural content for the Commonwealth Games 2018, as well as meeting some other clients to develop an on going video series to be primarily viewed through social media but definitely sellable to networks. I was on the plane coming home and got to thinking how amazing these opportunities are for me and the organisation. This led me to pondering how this all came to be, who was it that really supported me in my endeavours and dreams to become a creative arts producer.

Thank you Melissa and your team, thank you Arts Nexus.  YOU held my hand and never questioned my vision.  You supported me and offered your members all the workshops, information, skills and support required for me to be on this incredible creative journey for the last 15 years. This path would have surely been quite ominous and impossible for me, had it not been for you. You were an intrinsic and essential to our success. I can’t thank you enough.”

Melinda Norris, Director – Festivals Up North

“Arts Nexus has always been a reliable support base for creative endeavors of all kinds. As the President/Director of a non-profit community organization and event manager, it fills me with great confidence and reassurance knowing that quality professional assistance is available. I have attended several event management and funding workshops coordinated by Arts Nexus and found them to provide a wealth of relevant, engaging and accessible information. Arts Nexus also provides a wonderful creative networking platform upon which we can build quality collaborative projects.

Through Art Nexus training and engagement I have grown my personal and professional network, connecting with creative, community minded people across our region; and developed essential operational skills. Arts Nexus was there to support our organisation recently, in the process of applying for a large funding grant. Thanks to Arts Nexus we were able to submit a solid application on time. The advice and support we received from Arts Nexus was paramount to ensuring the quality of the application, and gave us confidence that our efforts were not wasted, knowing the application was as thorough as it could have been.Thank you so much for your invaluable support.”

Kaylie Jolly Jenkins, President/Director | Children’s Activity Groups Association

“If it were not for Arts Nexus, I would not be the arts worker I am today. I arrived in Cairns as an enthusiastic and passionate arts worker. If it were not for Arts Nexus practical support for myself s a developing arts worker I would not have won the Cairns Woman of the Year 2012 for my work. Arts Nexus is so important to me, that when I understood Arts Nexus was in the position of being de-funded and therefore potentially closing its doors, I raised my hand to come onto the board. Here in Far North Queensland we need this organisation to advocate and support the arts industry across the region. It is imperative to me as a success of Arts Nexus that this organisation exits.

Velvet Eldred, founding member since 1997

“Recently I was having concerns regarding my Arts Qld application and really needed help, and I am so grateful you were able to provide it. I had initially phoned Arts Qld (Brisbane) to ask which grant application I should prepare for, when applying for a pre-production creative development for my latest play. I was told a Community Project Grant was appropriate.

When I explained I had three professional play productions and this was not a community project, I was still directed towards the Community Project Grants as this was the most relevant area. Fortunately today, you identified Community Projects was not the correct grant, and directed me towards the Qld Arts Showcase Program (QASP) which is specifically aimed at creative developments. If this had not happened I would have wasted a lot of time preparing material and applying for the wrong grant, with I suspect, a disappointing outcome. So thanks again for your time, it was invaluable.”

Angela Murphy Creative Communications

“Over the years Arts Nexus has coordinated programs across Far North Queensland, exposed the regions arts sector to national and international audiences, has been a crucial part of supporting the cross-regional cultural initiatives and strategies and provided customised programs and services for both their stakeholders and members.”

Suellen Maunder, Founding member and Artistic Director/Chief Executive Officer

“I have been involved with Arts Nexus for the past 10 years as both an independent arts practioners and now as the General Manager of The Young Company Theatre. During this time they directly impacted on my employment within the arts industry here in Cairns. Through their advice, mentorship and professional guidance from their services, they have proven to be an essential component to the arts ecology here in Cairns. Having a creative hub like Arts Nexus with these types of services in Far North Queensland is absolutely essential in order for our arts community to connect and learn together which then has a ripple effect for our general community and their participation in the arts.

Over the past three years Arts Nexus and the people involved in the organisation have been one of the defining organisation in helping me gain the confidence to engage in national arts conversations. Living in a regional setting can often hinder ones own self from metropolitan counterparts. However their invitation to be a part of these larger conversations has had a direct impact on my organizations development within the region and in the national arts landscape. This has come from their professional development series whereby exploring often untapped areas, they have created a safe and supportive environment to examine the nuts and bolts of sustaining a creative career in the regions.”

Leigh Boswell, General Manager, The Young Company