Meet Zoë Graham, our State Manager for QLD

Coming from a wealth of strategic and operational experience across artforms including festivals, dance and visual arts, Zoë joins the team here at Creative Partnerships Australia as the new State Manager for Queensland.

Zoe Graham profile image

We spoke with Zoë about her hopes for the arts during this unusual time, her switch from working within the arts to the world of arts fundraising and development, and how she would like to support the arts sector through her new role as State Manager for Queensland.

What attracted you to the role of Creative Partnerships State Manager?

I’ve always been passionate about engaging as many people with the arts as possible and nurturing positive relationships between the arts sector and the private/corporate world.

The role of State Manager brings together advocacy, relationship building and sector support with the aim of nurturing a vibrant cultural sector. The opportunity to play a part in supporting artists and arts organisations across Queensland to grow and achieve their ambitions is incredibly exciting. I’m thrilled to be joining the team!

You’ve worked across different artforms and in different parts of the world. Tell us a bit about you and how your experience has formed your professional approach.

My background is in performing arts, however I have been really fortunate to have worked across visual arts, dance and multi-arts festivals here in Queensland and in Sydney too. I feel so lucky to be able to work alongside artists and other creatives in the work that I do. I’ve spent years away from Queensland, but always return here and are connected to the sector so look forward to expanding my network across Queensland.

My roles have encompassed everything from volunteer management and site planning at the Woodford Folk Festival, delivering recession-response funding programs at Arts Council England, through to leading development and operational teams in organisations such as the MCA, Queensland Ballet and Horizon Festival. These experiences across metro and regionally based organisations, both small and large scale, have given me a strong understanding of the very specific and common challenges facing the sector.

When I stepped into the world of arts fundraising and development, I saw that I could bring together my passion for the arts and skills in creative problem solving and relationship building to achieve great outcomes for artists, organisations and audiences. I love the creative challenge of partnerships and philanthropy and hope to share some of this passion and knowledge with artists and organisations across Queensland in this role.

It is an unusual time for the arts in Australia. What’s your hope for the sector as organisations rebuild from the pandemic?

I’m constantly inspired by the resilience and determination of artists and arts organisations. Whilst the impact of the pandemic has been devastating, the unwavering drive of artists and organisations to create work and share it with audiences will help them to come through this.

Rather than simply focusing our attention on what the sector needs to do to ‘rebuild’, I hope that with continued advocacy the true value of the arts will be more deeply appreciated by the general public and the private sector.

As a State Manager part of your role is providing one-on-one coaching and advice to artists and organisations. What aspects of your experience will support this service?

Having worked on the ‘frontline’ in operations and development for many years, I really understand the day-to-day challenges of working in fundraising and development. This on-the-ground experience across a range of different operating contexts (both metro and regional) has equipped me with a deep understanding of the full spectrum of development – from identifying potential donors, applying for grants and managing large multi-year corporate partnerships. I hope to be able to provide sound advice and support to others in the sector at whatever stage of the fundraising journey they are at.

For the past decade, I’ve managed teams across development, marketing and operations. What I’ve loved most is supporting team members to succeed and grow their capabilities particularly in the areas of fundraising and development. I have also benefited myself from coaching and mentoring by some outstanding arts leaders and have undertaken a range of professional development programs over the years including Australia Council’s Emerging Leaders Program and Women in Leadership Australia. I’ll bring this knowledge and experience to the role of State Manager too.

What is your one piece of advice to artists and arts organisations who are looking to increase the level of diversity of support they receive from the private sector?

Think really creatively about who might like to support your project or organisation. You might be surprised when you do a little research to find an interesting and less obvious connection between you and a possible private sector contact. I’ve been involved in some really interesting corporate partnerships and philanthropic relationships where a common ground has been found between two unlikely partners with great outcomes achieved for both.


We are excited to have Zoë join our team at Creative Partnerships. If you are based in Queensland and would like to book an appointment with Zoë please submit an enquiry form.