Meet the team: Fiona Sweet – Executive Director and CEO

We sat down with Fiona Sweet, Stella’s new Executive Director and CEO.

Fiona Sweet

Sweet is the past Artistic Director and CEO of the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, Australia’s leading contemporary photographic event, and the inaugural Director of the National Centre for Photography. She is recognised internationally for her inspiring and intelligent delivery of uniquely crafted festivals and events.

Sweet co-founded Melbourne’s Acland Street Projection Festival, is a former Board Director of the Australian Graphic Design Association and the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

She currently sits on the LCI University Photographic Advisory Committee, the Advisory Committee for the Discipline of Photography at RMIT, the Board of Melbourne Jewish Book Week and Port Philip Council Cultural Development Fund Committee.

Our Executive Director and CEO founded and directed the successful creative studio Sweet Creative. She is the recipient of many prestigious design awards and is considered one of the top 25 women who have made a significant contribution to Australian graphic design. She is listed on the website, which aims promote and celebrate these women as heroes in their industry.

You come to us with extensive experience across the Australian arts sector. Can you tell us a bit about your professional background? What drives you in your working life?

I’ve always been driven by a passion for the arts in all its many exciting and interlinking forms and for arts leadership. My background has primarily been in design, photography and the visual arts, but I have always had a special admiration and passion for literature. In my role at Stella, I seek to support and encourage Australian women and non-binary writers and strengthen the organisation to continue to deliver and expand its work long into the future.

Why are you excited to be joining the Stella team?

I’m excited by Stella’s mission to champion Australian women’s writing and drive cultural change. While Stella is a relatively small organisation, it punches well above its weight in terms of impact for writers, readers, and the literary sector at large. I am looking forward to working with and for women and non-binary writers, and to help elevate their stories and perspectives in our national culture.

“I’m a great lover of Australian fiction, historical fiction, and the occasional biography. I also invest a lot of energy into my pro-bono work as a mentor.”

When you’re not working, what do you like to do?

Reading, of course! I’m a great lover of Australian fiction, historical fiction, and the occasional biography. I also invest a lot of energy into my pro-bono work as a mentor. Beyond that, I love ocean swimming, hiking, and getting out into nature to walk my dog (whose name, coincidentally, is Stella!)

What was the last book you read and loved?

I often have two or three books on the go. I absolutely loved Fiona Kelly McGregor’s Iris, which was longlisted for the 2023 Stella Prize. It is an incredibly rich and highly visual depiction of the lives and experiences of women in the inner Sydney in the 1930s. I loved the original use of voice within the historical fiction genre, and the way the book shines a light on the experiences of queer and marginalised women.

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