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Artistic Director and Co-CEO Emma Webb OAM to farewell Vitalstatistix

Today we announce that after 14 years at the helm of Vitalstatistix, Artistic Director and Co-CEO Emma Webb OAM has decided to step down from her role.

For almost a decade and a half, Emma’s creative, progressive and fearless leadership has steered vital cultural and community conversations through the organisation’s multidisciplinary contemporary art and public engagement activities. The reach and impact of this work has been felt locally and nationally, and recently culminated in Vitalstatistix’s successful application for four-year Creative Australia funding as one of Australia’s critical and foremost experimental arts organisations.

During her tenure at Vitalstatistix, Emma has overseen the curation, commissioning, production and presentation of hundreds of shows, residencies, and other artistic development opportunities. She has curated the respected national artist hothouse Adhocracy, now in its 15th year; undertaken long-term social practice projects such as Cutaway, Climate Century and Bodies of Work; fostered sisterly relationships with artist-run collectives and contemporary performance presenters around Australia; and supported the careers of South Australian, national and international artists with a focus on women, gender diverse, First Nations, queer, and other under-represented artists.

Emma has also proudly led impactful arts policy and advocacy efforts at the local, state and federal government levels, through Vitalstatistix, as well as the Arts Industry Council of South Australia executive committee and the Reset Arts and Culture Collective (in which she retains her voluntary memberships). Her unwavering advocacy for the rights and public value of artists, and the arts and cultural sector broadly, has influenced funding, policy, workers’ rights and other changes over a difficult decade-plus for arts and culture in Australia.

Similarly, her commitment to honouring, promoting, and protecting the 40-year legacy of Vitalstatistix, the nearly 100-year tradition of our heritage-listed venue the Waterside Workers Hall, and the spirit of Yartapuulti/Port Adelaide has been steadfast. In 2020, Emma was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for her services to the performing arts, particularly in Port Adelaide.

“It’s been an absolute honour to lead Vitals and to have the opportunity to really make a difference over a lengthy period of service. I’ve been considering this decision for a period of time and believe that now is the right moment for a new era and generation of leadership at Vitals. I’m delighted to leave the organisation with a solid vision and funding in place, for its work in the future of progressive and experimental art in Australia and I can’t wait to see what comes next and be a very regular audience member. And I am very proud to join the legendary and bolshy alumni of Artistic Directors of Vitalstatistix!” said Emma Webb.

“Emma has led Vitalstatistix for 14 years and we are incredibly thankful for her outstanding contribution to the organisation during her tenure. She leaves an extraordinary legacy, having firmly placed Vitalstatistix in the national landscape as leaders and champions for Australian artists and the sector. Her support, dedication and tireless advocacy for independent artists and the small to medium arts sector will continue to impact the industry for many years to come. Thank you Emma, and we wish you the best for all your future endeavours,” said Chair, Angela Flynn.

The sold-out and critically acclaimed Adelaide Festival season of Astrid Pill and Collaborators’ I Hide in Bathrooms will be Emma’s swansong at Vitalstatistix, with her tenure coming to a close in late March. A celebration of her achievements will be scheduled for later in the year.

The Vitalstatistix board will commence a recruitment process for the artistic leadership role in the coming weeks.