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JamFactory appoints new chair and looks to grow


A former state government minister has been appointed the new chair of JamFactory, as the 50-year-old craft centre plans to expand its central Adelaide site.

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Former arts minister John Hill was announced as the new chair of JamFactory last night, along with a new strategic plan listing physical expansion, increased First Nations engagement and entrepreneurial growth as future priorities.

Taking effect from November 24, Hill will succeed Jane Danvers, who has been chair since 2017.

The announcement was made by Arts Minister Andrea Michaels as JamFactory launched its strategic plan for 2024-2028 with ongoing Commonwealth funding until 2028 secured under Danvers.

Michaels noted Danvers’ contributions to JamFactory, with the Adelaide institution “among the most resilient arts organisations in the country during the global pandemic”.

“John is highly regarded within the arts sector in South Australia and respected across the political landscape,” Michaels said.

“He is well placed to lead JamFactory’s board as the organisation enters an exciting new phase following the successful celebration of its 50th anniversary this year.”

Hill previously served as the MP for the southern electorate of Kaurna from 1997 to 2014, notably turning the once marginal electorate into a safe Labor seat. Before retiring from politics in 2014, he held state ministerial portfolios in environment, health and the arts.

Since retiring from politics, Hill has served as chair of the SA Film Corporation Board and the South Australia Living Artists (SALA) board. He’s currently the deputy chancellor of the University of South Australia.

“I have been fully briefed on JamFactory’s new Strategic Plan and am entirely supportive,” Hill said.

“Physical expansion will be a key priority for the Board going forward and I will be particularly interested to see what opportunities could arise from the creation of the new Adelaide University, given JamFactory’s existing relationships and close proximity.”

JamFactory CEO Brian Parkes released the 2024-28 Strategic Plan summary with key ambitions including a major refurbishment and expansion of their retail store and galleries; a new flexible education studio for specialised craft and design programs; reintroducing a textiles studio to deliver training, create jobs and prompt commercial activities; and a licensed café featuring JamFactory furniture, lighting and servingware.

Parkes told InReview earlier in the year there was potential to do more with the “disjointed and under-loved public space” in the Lion Arts Centre precinct.

He told InDaily the expansion plans would be prioritised over the next four years, with conversations having begun with some stakeholders.

Our building, and indeed the whole Lion Arts Centre, is an asset of state government, so we will need support from them to achieve anything,” Parkes said. 

“However, our need for more space is very real and increasingly urgent so we will also need to carefully consider any other practical opportunities for expansion in the precinct.”

While the core funding JamFactory receives from the state and commonwealth governments is specifically allocated to their operations, Parkes said the organisation was in a position to “invest some of our built-up cash reserves on the right opportunity”.

“We would need additional support from government and/or the private sector – but we think we can make a very strong case.

“In addition to the significant cultural and community benefits we provide, we currently deliver a direct economic return of around four to one on the funding we receive from state government and indirectly much more than this.”

Other priorities outlined in the strategic plan include creating a new career development program for emerging First Nations artists and designers; developing a community-led exhibition of Kaurna art and design; launching and implementing JamFactory’s first Reconciliation Action Plan and establishing a First Nations Advisory group.

This will be helped by a philanthropic gift of $50,000 from Kingsley and Robyn Mundey. The former is the Sydney-based managing director of International Art Services which opened an Adelaide facility earlier this year.

JamFactory will develop and present a nationally touring exhibition of work by Ngarrindjeri Elder and weaver Aunty Ellen Trevorrow, curated by Carly Tarkari Dodd, as the 2025 JamFactory ICON.

The pilot program in career development for emerging First Nations artists based on First Nations-led consultation will also be trialled in 2025.

JamFactory is also planning entrepreneurial growth to ensure its ongoing financial stability.

It plans to do so by expanding its collections and promoting them to architects and interior designers nationally; investing in targeted online sales; presenting work for sale at the biennial Melbourne Design Fair and opening a new JamFactory retail outlet in Sydney by 2028.

JamFactory signed a 10-year lease renewal on its regional facility at the Seppeltsfield Winery earlier this year.

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