Vanessa Gillen

Vanessa Gillen

Regional Arts Officer

Vanessa Gillen earned a BA Fine Arts from Sydney University, before creating a marketing career in the media and entertainment industries. Vanessa’s career began in Sydney’s television/ film production world, then in London’s glamourous movie industry, where she worked in Marketing for United International Pictures for 6 years before returning to join the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) to release their first ever theatrical film acquisition. She went on to initiate ABC Events, as part of the corporation’s commercial interests, which remains a successful part of the national broadcaster’s revenue stream.

Fifteen years ago Vanessa and her family moved to FNQ ‘for a year’, living in Cooktown for 3 years before making Cairns home. Her roles in FNQ have included Festival Director of the 2010 Cooktown Discovery Festival, Operations Manager for the Indigenous Nyungkal Rangers, followed by three years developing and managing the Yarrabah Arts and Cultural Precinct. In 2015 her experience in working with indigenous artists and her event skills led her role as General Manager of CIAF Ltd,.from 2015 until 2019.

Following that success she became Creative Director of the Cooktown Expo 2020, celebrating the 250th anniversary of Cook’s landing at the Endeavour River. Delayed by a year due to Covid, the 10 day festival in June 2021, drew thousands visitors and locals to Cooktown and its unique place in Australia’s history.

In January 2022 Vanessa bought a large Bushfood Orchard on the Atherton Tablelands and continues to manage that as well as enjoying the opportunities RASN has to remain working in the area she loves.