Sam Strong

Like most Melbourne artists, Sam’s career began at Fringe. He grew up on Melbourne’s indie stages: The Storeroom, La Mama, Fortyfivedownstairs and Red Stitch (where he founded the Red Stitch Writers program). More recently, he has been Artistic Director of Queensland Theatre and Griffin Theatre Company, as well Associate Artistic Director of MTC and Chair of Circa.

Sam is a proud graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts and quieter about his time as a corporate lawyer.

Sam’s first experience of the Fringe was handing out flyers at the final Brunswick St Parade for his “bold reimagining” of Death of a Salesman.

Stephanie Hamilton
Deputy Chair

Stephanie is an accomplished leader with over 15 years’ experience working across commercial, business development and project management roles in both Melbourne and London. By nature she is a collaborator who thrives making meaningful connections in business and industry, and thus has spent some years working in development and sponsorship roles in the arts and events, most recently as Head of Development at Melbourne Festival. Stephanie loves to travel to experience all things food, art, music and culture. And she is channelling some of these passions as the Visitor Economy Manager at the City of Melbourne, responsible for ensuring Melbourne’s status as a world class destination for visitation.

Stephanie’s first Fringe experience was some many many years ago in the early 2000s at Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It cemented her love for the provocative!

Rob Camm

Rob is a management consultant and partner at public value consultancy firm Cube Group, where he heads up the health and human services practice. He has over thirty years of experience across the public and private sectors. His diverse experience includes key roles in strategic planning, service planning, project management, business analysis, financial modelling, tender evaluation, budget formulation and financial management.

Rob is an accountant and CPA by training but also shares a passion for and interest in the creative arts. Prior to joining the Fringe Board he spent six years on the Board of Craft Victoria, Victoria’s peak member body for makers, including many years as its Company Secretary. He held the role of Chair when he completed his term in 2018.

Outside of work, Rob enjoys travelling and spending time with his family, including supporting their performances on the sporting field and the stage.

Juanita Pope
Company Secretary

Juanita is the Director of Not-for-profit Law at Justice Connect. She holds arts and law degrees from the University of Melbourne and has 15 years experience as a lawyer. Juanita has practised at corporate law firm Allens, as a Federal Court associate and registrar, and in academia. Since 2010 she has worked at social justice charity, Justice Connect, helping not-for-profits and charities address their legal issues. In her creative life, Juanita was a founder of theatre company Peepshow Inc, performing in and producing many of its works from 2003 to 2013, and a director of Polyglot Theatre from 2004 to 2007.

Juanita’s first experience of the Fringe was seeing a show at the one and only La Mama Theatre while studying at Melbourne Uni. She was so entranced by the magic of it, the mugs of wine and the fun times, she resolved to do a Fringe show herself one day. (She did. And she might again.)

Nicholas Verginis

The first rule of lawyering is You Do Not Talk About Lawyering. And the first rule of working in the government is Do Not Talk About Being a Public Servant. So after over 15 years as a behind-the-scenes government lawyer in Melbourne and the UK, Nicholas is strangely connected to the Third Rule of Fight Club: “Someone yells stop, goes limp, taps out, the fight is over.” Nicholas is a senior executive in the Department of Justice trying to make the community safer. He is passionate about the oft forgotten human right to artistic expression and creativity. Only through promotion of artistic agency and expression can our society move past historic prejudice, toxic masculinity and inter-generational inequality and realise the transformative, emancipatory power of art. Amen.

Nicholas’s first experience of the Fringe was in 1996 performing in the Union House Theatre production of Daniel Keene’s ‘Because You Are Mine’ about the former Yugoslav town of Mostar descending into civil war – he saw more in 1997.

Michael Hyde

Michael is the Head of Strategy at leading independent advertising and media agency – Cummins & Partners.

Michael works with organisations, governments and NGO’s to help them bring their ambitions to the world. Essentially bringing simplicity of thought to complex commercial and marketing problems. Michael brings this marketing and communications skillset to the Melbourne Fringe board.

Michael believes in the power of ideas and creativity. He’s passionate about inclusivity, diversity, social outcomes and citizenship. And most importantly, ensuring his two daughters grow up good people filled with wonder, in an awesome world of possibilities.

Ben Lee

Having made a career change at the ripe old age of 27, Ben hasn’t looked back after he flung himself at a life in the arts in Melbourne. He cut his teeth at Heide Museum of Modern Art where he did everything from counting left over wine bottles after an opening to negotiating with major sponsors for an exhibition, before moving to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra where he experienced his most hair-raising moment in his life by speaking in Mandarin (he doesn’t speak Mandarin) to a room full of Chinese Government dignitaries. He peeked behind the curtain of tertiary education working at the University of Melbourne before returning to the warm bosom of the arts at ACMI. He is now Patrons Manager at the Australian Ballet.

Ben’s first experience of Fringe was performing back up with Anna Go-Go at a Fringe Club 90s party and continues to embarrass himself in public by singing live as often as he can.

Kirsty Ellem

Kirsty founded Artistic Merit in 2007 and has significant experience in the arts and government sectors.

She was inaugural manager of the Esso BHP Billiton Wellington Entertainment Centre and has led the Monash University Academy of Performing Arts. She was awarded an Asialink Arts Management Residency to Indonesia and continues to work closely with Indonesian partners. Kirsty has worked for Arts Victoria, The Monash University Academy of Performing Arts and The Arts Centre amongst others and has been a board member and Chair of Polyglot Theatre, Astra, Gippsland Regional Arts Sale. She is a fellow of the Gippsland Community Leadership Program.

Alison Currie

Alison is a Partner in PwC’s Management Consulting business with a focus on assisting Government realize its priorities efficiently and effectively. Alison has a well established record of advising Governments to deliver strong financial management – consistent budget surpluses, record infrastructure investment and a AAA credit rating. Her responsibilities have included strategic and timely advice that informed government decisions on a range of economic, social and environmental issues; assisting the Government with implementing major infrastructure projects; and contributing to decisions made by the Government on major contractual arrangement across the State.

In a career break from politics, Alison returned to study sound at the Victorian College of the Arts. During this time worked regularly with Circus Oz, Moon Mother Productions, Optical Audio and Bluebottle, in theatre and live production. Mixing live bands across many Melbourne venues, working regularly at Cherry Bar, Yah Yah’s and the Yarraville Club. For 18 months, was also the full time lead venue technician for Melbourne City Council’s Arts House theatre in North Melbourne, leading a casual crew to support live performance. A highlight was taking on the role technical production manager of the inaugural Festival of Live Art.

Fundraising & Advocacy Advisor Maggie Maguire OAM
Bar Advisors Tracey Lester, Daniel Manly & Matthew Mullins