Emma O’Neill, BIS Alumni Class of 2008,

Emma O’Neill, BIS Alumni Class of 2008, talks about her position as Festival Director at Art Month Sydney and her predictions about the latest trends in the art world and also reminisces about her time in BIS. 

  1. Give us a brief description of your job as a Festival Director?

I am responsible for an annual festival called Art Month Sydney that has been running for more than 10 years and takes place every March. The month-long event fosters engagement with contemporary artists and their works through gallery visitation. We enable access to both established and emerging artists, their art, and their stories. When I’m not organizing the festival, you’ll find my freelance writing about art.

  1. What is the most interesting part of your job?

My day to day varies enormously, which I why I enjoy my work so much. Some days I will be concepting the look and feel of the design campaign, on others I’ll be chatting to artists about their work and galleries about their exhibition program. What I find most interesting is organising workshops, artist studio visits and panel discussions.

  1. What is art’s future, five years from now?

We have seen during the recent lockdown just how important art is in keeping us occupied, translating world events and connecting us with one another. Art increases in importance though uncertain times, but the way it is exhibited will evolve in the coming years (ie. right now I’m watching artists deliver their work through tik-tok, Instagram and even animal crossing!)

  1. What advice would you give younger kids who want to pursue a career in Art?

Visit galleries whenever you can, don’t be afraid of asking questions and read up on whatever art you’re interested in (whether it’s the latest contemporary tik-tok art or Picasso).

I think it’s also important to remember there will be parts of every job that you don’t love. There is no such thing as a perfect job or a perfect career, stick with it if you enjoy most of it!  

  1. Are there any specific values you learned while at Bali Island School that encouraged you to pursue your passion?

The diverse and tight-knit network at Bali Island School instilled in me the importance of community and made it easier to form new friendships when I moved away. I also had so many excellent teachers that helped me to hone a good work ethic and encouraged me to give everything a go. Hard work and an openness to new opportunities have been key to finding a career path that suits my skills and interests.

  1. What are some of your favorite memories in BIS?

Camping trips to Lembongan, IISSAC soccer tournaments, after-school surfing with Mr. Sutherland, and nasi bungkus every break!