Introducing New Life Members – 50 Years Edition 
May 21, 2024

Introducing New Life Members – 50 Years Edition 


Footscray Community Arts is celebrating an extraordinary milestone this year, marking 50 years by honouring a selection of remarkable individuals who have significantly contributed to our vibrant community. 

The 2024 Life Member nominations highlight community members whose sustained efforts have helped shape who we are today. From leading artists and advocates, to dedicated staff members, this year’s nominees embody the spirit and resilience of Footscray Community Arts.  

Each nominee’s unique contributions, whether through groundbreaking artistic endeavours, impactful leadership, or steadfast support, have left an indelible mark on the centre, propelling it forward into its next half-century.  

Please join us in celebrating their exceptional legacies and the enduring impact of their work! 

Left to right Rani Pramesti, Ibby Ibrahim, Maree, Jason Rostant, Darren Gee, John Harvey, Larissa MacFarlane, Stephen Groat, Pamela Debrincat, Daniel Seifu, & Steven Tran.

Maree Clarke

One of Australia’s leading Indigenous visual artists, Maree Clarke has been an enormous presence at Footscray Community Arts over the years. Pivotal projects like the inaugural Womenjeka Festival (2012), Eel Trap (2019), the New Footscray Hospital’s Australian Tapestry Workshop commission (current), and mentorship to emerging artists have helped shaped First Nations cultural practice at Footscray Community Arts. 

John Harvey 

John Harvey is an acclaimed Torres Strait Islander writer, director and producer across theatre and film and the Creative Director of Brown Cabs. Brown Cabs was welcomed to Footscray Community Arts as a company in residence in 2012, and we have had the privilege over the years to have supported John in creative development and presentation of some amazing projects across film and performance. John was awarded the Malcolm Robertson Foundation Writer’s inaugural Playwright in Residence at Footscray Community Arts, and presented the work My Heart is a Wasteland at Malthouse Theatre in 2017. He directed and presented A Little Piece of Heaven the story of Wiradjuri Elders, Uncle Dick and Aunty Ruth Carney, at Footscray Community Arts as part of Yirramboi Arts Festival 2019. During his time here he also curated our Black Screen program with Victoria University’s Moondani Balluk, and generously participated in many conversations supporting our Indigenous Cultural Program, many First Nations artists and community members. 

“As a First Nations artist and the director of an independent production company, Footscray Community Arts made me feel part of a vibrant creative community.  I’m forever grateful for the friendships, support and inspiration Footscray Community Arts has given me.” 

New Life Member Darren Gee and Chairperson Julia White at the AGM, image by Gianna Rizzo, 2024.

Darren Gee 

A staff member for 29 years, Darren Gee worked across production, venue, IT, and facilities during his time. “Where’s Daz?” was the often heard call at Footscray Community Arts looking for the stellar fixer. For nearly thirty years, Darren has been the backbone of support for both colleagues and, more importantly, the countless artists and community members who have crossed paths with him.  

“My time at Footscray Community Arts has been an exhilarating journey, filled with countless cherished moments and an ever-expanding family within the centre. I’ve weathered storms of restructuring, witnessed the evolution of our team, and revelled in the breathtaking fruits of our collective labour alongside talented artists. These experiences have solidified my belief in the enduring legacy of Footscray Community Arts, propelling it forward into the next half-century and beyond. While my direct involvement may be drawing to a close, my passion for the centre’s growth and prosperity burns brighter than ever. I eagerly anticipate witnessing the continued flourishing of Footscray Community Arts and its surrounding precinct, cheering from the sidelines with unwavering enthusiasm.” 

Jason Rostant 

Jason Rostant was Chair of Footscray Community Arts from 2017 to 2019, and a board member from 2016 to 2023. During his tenure, he oversaw significant transitions for Footscray Community Arts including introduction of the NDIS program, the transition into a Co-CEO leadership model, and the establishment of the Precinct Plan review which paved the way for Footscray Community Arts’ current infrastructure revitalisation. 

“FCA is such a vital institution providing local connection, leadership and voice to communities of the West and beyond. It’s an honour to have played a small part in that story and to be able to celebrate FCA’s rich history over half a century.” 

The Zizi Show, Jake Elwes by Matto Lucas 2024

Danny Seifu 

Daniel Seifu has made significant contributions to Footscray Community Arts as both a musician and producer, connecting Ethiopian community to Footscray Community Arts. Trained in Ethiopian jazz, traditional, and contemporary music at the Yared School of Music (Addis Ababa), Daniel arrived in Australia in 2007 after working in residence at the Ethiopian National Theatre. Since 2008, he has been actively involved with Footscray Community Arts, including initiatives like the Emerging Musicians Program in 2009. Daniel consistently showcases local and visiting Ethiopian artists at Footscray Community Arts, such as Kids Piano teaching for the Ethiopian community (2009-2011) and Girma Yifrashewa’s recent performance for the Neighbourhood Festival in 2022. As a member of The JAzmaris ensemble, he regularly graces Footscray Community Arts stages with stellar performances, including The West Azmaris project as part of Due West Festival 2019. His presence at significant Footscray Community Arts moments, like the opening of the Warehouse building, highlights his role in the community. 

“Footscray Community Arts Centre has been a significant input to my artistic development. However, it was difficult for newly arrived immigrant musicians to break into the Australian art market; FCA has made a huge contribution by helping us to overcome this barrier by providing performance and practice venues, as well as supporting our local and international initiatives. As a result, both the artist and the community feel a sense of belonging and can communicate our cultural values to the rest of Australia.” 

Daniel Santangeli presenting at the AGM, image by Gianna Rizzo, 2024.

Stephen Groat 

Stephen Groat is a longtime member of Footscray Community Arts since 1984. He has made a significant contribution to the organisation through many generous donations over the years as well as ongoing support and guidance to CEOs previous and current. 

“Footscray Community Arts has always struck me as being an innovative organisation in both its philosophy and the way it operates. FCA has, in my time, consistently evolved to provide for the ever-changing needs of its diverse and disadvantaged surrounding communities “ 

Rani Pramesti 

Rani Pramesti (she / they) is the Founder of Social Design Asia. Rani was part of Footscray Community Arts’ influential Emerging Cultural Leader program in 2013 – a program that supported over 100 artists over 8 years on their leadership journey within the creative industries. Rani continued to contribute to the Footscray Community Arts as a staff member from 2015 to 2016, delivering impactful programs like the Emerging Cultural Leaders, Women, Art and Politics Symposium, and the WANITA: Female Artivism, Jakarta! exhibition in collaboration with Women’s Arts Network Indonesia to Australia. Rani has continued to support Footscray Community Arts artists through guest speaking in more recent years. 

“Being part of the Emerging Cultural Leaders (ECL) program in 2013 was life-changing for me. I was finally part of a safer space with people of the global majority, who were passionate about using the arts as a tool to advocate for / with our communities.”  

Black & Blur, Lilah Benetti at Queer Out West by Matto Lucas 2024

Larissa MacFarlane 

Larissa MacFarlane began her journey with Footscray Community Arts in 2005 joining a short photography project with people with disability. Larissa has gone on to contribute prolifically to the culture of Footscray Community Arts. Highlights include co-founding Snapshots of Seddon in 2008 – a community photo exhibition highlighting local disabled people held annually for eight years, an event for Brain Injury Awareness week in 2008 that included a huge Snakes and Ladders game highlighting disability attitudes and inclusion, co-curation of ‘Trans’ exhibition with Michael Brennan in the brand new Roslyn Smorgon Gallery in 2011, as well as participation in group exhibitions for Big West Festival and MREAM’s Gone West, and facilitation of countless arts workshops and guest speaking. Larissa was part of the 2016 iteration of Emerging Creative Leaders – a program that supported over 100 artists in their leadership journey within the creative industries. In 2017, she produced Australia’s inaugural Disability Pride mural commissioned by Footscray Community Arts and accompanying solo exhibition and residency, establishing a precedent for self-determined disability-led practice. Since 2019, Larissa has been an active member and supporter of Footscray Community Arts, participating in projects such as the New Footscray Hospital Hoarding Photography curated by the Footscray Community Arts in 2023. 

“My involvement at FCA over the past 2 decades has not only nurtured my growth as an artist and community activist, but it has also given me the space and confidence to step into my Disabled Artist identity and celebrate and explore Disability Culture. Highlights include creating space for disabled community to come together and make art – from playing snakes and ladders to mark Brain Injury Awareness week in 2006 to creating our first Disability Pride mural in 2017.” 

Ibrahim ‘Ibby’ Ibrahim 

Ibby Ibrahim is a Naarm/Melbourne based artist who has been involved with Footscray Community Arts for 13 years. Ibby creates artworks of superheroes through digital mediums and origami. His body of work is a commentary on current political and social movements, such as Black Lives Matter and Free Palestine. Ibby has been involved in multiple programs at FCA, including ArtLife Residency and Art Industry.  

Ibby has exhibited work in multiple shows at FCA, including How About A Rainbow (2017), The Connected Vision (2018) and Heart (2018), as well as Visibility (2019) at Wyndham Art Gallery. Additionally, Ibby has had two solo exhibitions, IBBYMAN (2015) and most recently, Black Lives Matter (2022). 

Steven Tran  

Steven Tran is a visual artist and performer based in Naarm/Melbourne, Australia. Drawing inspiration from music, dance, architecture, and personal narratives, Steven employs a diverse range of mediums, including drawing, painting, photography, and digital tools, often in an experimental manner. With abstract, geometric, and often surreal patterns, Steven creates colourful compositions that blend precision with emotive depth, evoking both structure and movement. Steven’s work invites viewers on immersive journeys, prompting them to explore alternate realms and engage deeply with their own perceptions and imagination. Since 2013, he has been an integral part of the Footscray Community Arts’ ArtLife program, with dedication to both artistic exploration and community involvement. 

Steven’s work featured in West Projections Festival and Due West Arts Festival in 2019, where he installed intricate drawings over photocopies of all of his favourite songs. Steven also performed for Due West Arts Festival in Our Dance Between, with improvised expressions of emotion through movement. 

“I don’t know sometimes what it (artmaking) is to me, it’s a need” 

Kal Angam-kal, Stories from West Papua Exhibition Launch 2023 by Gianna Rizzo

Pamela Debrincat  

Pamela Debrincat is a curator, facilitator and artist who has been a part of the Footscray Community Arts organisation for 20 years. They have supported and been involved in multiple programs within FCA. For the duration of Pamela’s involvement with FCA, she has been an artist with the ArtLife Program, attending their workshops and the Residency program. Through the Artlife Program, Pamela has curated multiple group exhibitions including Let Glow (2019), How About a Rainbow (2017), Heart (2019) ARISING (2020), CLOSER (2021) and most recently BRIGHT (2023) which spotlighted a group of artists from the ArtLife Program and their interactive installation works.  

Pamela has also worked with the Education and Creative Workshops team, working as an assistant for the Toddler Jam program.