It has been a long term career goal for David Harris to lead a LGBTQI cultural organisation. With the Melbourne Queer Film Festival appointing them as the new CEO Harris will get to see that dream come to life.

Ive been working up to this kind of position for some time and I chose carefully where to work to ensure that I had a breadth of understanding and experience across the arts and cultural sector,Harris told Star Observer.

The community aspect of Melbourne Queer Film Festival is really what attracted me to the role… The brand is so well respected and its impact on not just the film canon in Australia, but progressing queer culture is really exciting. Film is a powerful way that we can create visibility for our communities and leave a mark on history. I think its also going to be loads of fun!

A Family That Supported Interest In Arts

Coming from a family that supported their interest in art, Harris has been exposed to a variety of art forms from various countries and cultures.

I wanted my work to mean something for the betterment of society and my community, so working in the charity sector was always a no-brainer – but being able to marry up my personal interest in arts and professional career has been a real pleasure. Sometimes it doesnt really feel like work,Harris said.

I got my first big break in 2006 with the West Australian Ballet, which was housed at the time at His Majestys Theatre, a grand old house with hidden corridors and gold-gilded everything. I was in my early 20s and secured a role in the marketing and fundraising team.

I came to understand early on that arts organisations have passionate communities that are like giant families, and I love being part of that.

Since his time with the West Australian Ballet Harris has also worked as Executive Officer of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Head of Partnerships and acted up as CEO of Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, Partnerships Manager of Carriageworks and held roles at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art and West Australian Ballet.  

Big Ideas And Plans

They have also been a Board Director of community arts organisations in both Melbourne and Sydney but being selected as the CEO of MQFF is the biggest highlight of their career.

Im deeply humbled by the decision and the outpouring of well-wishes from the community and colleagues has been just beautiful. Im so excited to be working with long-time Program Director Spiro Economopoulos and the beautiful MQFF team. 

Harris will start their new role in mid-November while current acting CEO David Micallef hold the position throughout the changeover and during MQFF 2021 which will take place from November 18-29.

Im coming at this with some big ideas swirling around my mind but its important to be measured and steady in the current context. Community consultation is especially important with queer cultural institutions as well – so Ill be looking to deep dive into that process before we make any significant moves,Harris said.

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