The Desart team is a resource that collectively has extensive experience working with Aboriginal communities, primarily in the arts. We are all passionate about the arts and putting culture at the centre of what we do. We value learning and sharing knowledge, and we’re continuing to build our expertise and better help bring about positive changes.
Our accumulation of corporate knowledge working specifically with art centres in Central Australia is gleaned from over 25 years in operation. Desart staff are directed by an Aboriginal board of directors, who represent the membership.
Philip Watkins was born and raised in Alice Springs, Northern Territory, and is part of large extended Arrernte and Larrakia families.
In August 2011, Philip was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of Desart. Prior to his appointment at Desart, Philip was employed as the Artistic and Cultural Director of the National Aboriginal Cultural Institute – Tandanya (2006-2011). This followed on from a range of positions held at the Central Land Council over a twelve year period.
Marlene Chisholm is the Art Worker Program Manager at Desart, a position she has held since 2013. She brings a wealth of experience in education and is passionate about building capacity and increasing employment and career pathways for Aboriginal people in the arts.
Bronwyn Taylor has been the Desart SAM Database Project Manager since 2013. She worked as the Desart Aboriginal Art Worker Program Manager between 2010 and 2011, and as a consultant for Desart between 2011 and 2013. Prior to this she was the Manager of Ninuku Arts Centre (2006-2009). Bronwyn has a BA Art History (Uni of Melbourne) and Certificate IV in TAE.
Penny Watson came to Central Australia in 1990 and has worked in Aboriginal arts, tertiary education, digital archives, language projects, and several book projects. Prior to Desart she worked for NPY Women’s Council, Tjanpi Desert Weavers, Central Land Council, Tangentyere Artists and Batchelor Institute. She has a B Ed (Art), Melbourne University and B A (Hons) Anthropology, Deakin University
Carmel has been associated with Desart since 2014. She has managed our artist exchange, exhibition and art fair programs in Seoul and Shanghai. Carmel has worked with Aboriginal art centres in the Northern Territory since the early 2000’s. As an event specialist she has worked for the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute and Tal-Kin-Jeri Dance Group. Carmel has a Master of Management (Arts and Cultural Management) from UniSA and a Graduate Diploma in Art History from Adelaide University.
Eliza came on board with Desart in June 2020. She has worked for a number of years in regional community arts working with Aboriginal artists and organisations in NSW and WA. Her background also includes project management, community development, gallery, retail, marketing, communications and events.
Melena is a Warumungu, Luritja and Yawuru woman who commenced as Administration Officer in June 2020. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese Language and Asian Studies through the University of Western Australia. Melena has worked mostly in education in Western Australia as a Special Needs Education Assistant and with the Graham (Polly) Farmer Foundation’s Follow the Dream Program as a Support Mentor and Tutor.