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Build Your Audience panel discussion being Auslan interpreted. Photo by Dieter Knierim.

Build Your Audience – Accessible Recordings

Thanks to everyone who joined us in person or online for our last Access Ideas and Insights panel discussion for 2023.

We had a record 312 registrations for this innovative panel discussion which discussed ways to ‘Build Your Audience’ through prioritising access and accelerating representation. This discussion led by expert panelists including Olivia Ansell (Director of Sydney Festival), James Winter (Co-Founder and Director of Brand X) and Janelle Ryan (Accessibility Operations Manager of Sydney Opera House) and was MC’d by James Evans (Associate Director of Bell Shakespeare).

This event was made possible with support from the City of Sydney. 

Accessibility Training and Consultancy

If you are interested in the training mentioned in this panel discussion, you can check out our suite of disability-led Training Services and Consulting Services.


This event has now passed, however you can watch the recordings below. There are three versions, including captioned and Auslan interpreted recordings.

Build Your Audience – Panel Discussion

Build Your Audience – Captioned

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Build Your Audience – Auslan Interpreted and Captioned

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About the Speakers

Olivia Ansell – Festival Director, Sydney Festival

Olivia is a leading curator and producer with over 20 years’ experience as a director, choreographer and performing artist. She is currently the Head of Contemporary Performance at Sydney Opera House, presenting a broad mix of genre defying productions spanning contemporary dance, theatre, circus, magic, comedy, music theatre, cabaret and pop culture from Australia and around the world. Voted one of Vivid Sydney’s Top 100 Creative Catalysts, her experience includes roles as the co-executive producer and creative force behind the hugely-popular, immersive experience Hidden Sydney, Artistic Director of Sydney Comedy Festival at Sydney Town Hall and Curator of Kings Bloody Cross for Vivid Ideas. Olivia is the Lecturer in Movement for the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s Con Opera School. Olivia has been appointed Festival Director 2022-2025 for Sydney Festival. 

James Winter – Co-Founder and Director Brand X

James graduated from the Centre for the Performing Arts (Adelaide) in 1993. As a Theatre Director, James has worked for the State Opera Company of South Australia, State Theatre Company of South Australia, Restless Dance Company, D Faces of Youth Arts, Urban Myth Theatre of Youth, AIT Arts, Shopfront, Ashfield Youth Theatre, Belvoir Youth Express and The Studio at the Sydney Opera House. James co-founded Brand X in 2005 and since then has worked on 17 re-purpose projects with the company and consulted for the private and public sectors on cultural infrastructure. He currently sits on the City of Sydney Cultural and Creative Sector Advisory Panel. 

Janelle Ryan – Accessibility Operations Manager, Sydney Opera House

Janelle has worked in the arts industry for over 23 years. In 2018 she took on the maternity leave position as the Accessibility Manager at the Sydney Opera House. After this appointment she took the role of Accessibility Operations in 2019 where she manages the annual Access programs and performances and is responsible for ensuring the successful fulfilment of the Opera House’s Access Action Plans which involve whole of house strategies to improve access for staff, audiences, performers, and visitors. Janelle holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications. 

James Evans (MC) – Associate Director, Bell Shakespeare

James is a graduate of NIDA (Acting) and holds a Master of Arts (English) from The University of Sydney. For Bell Shakespeare James has directed two national touring productions, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ and ‘Julius Caesar’, also directing ‘Macbeth’, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ for young audiences. James co-wrote and presented the acclaimed iPad App ‘Starting Shakespeare’ (named Best New App by Apple in 17 countries) and co-directed the ABC online series ‘Shakespeare Unbound’. He has been a visiting artist at the University of San Diego, as well as presenting a series of Shakespeare and leadership seminars in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, Mumbai and Singapore. James’s work with Bell Shakespeare in juvenile detention centres is the subject of the award-winning feature documentary ‘Kings of Baxter’.

Accessible Arts is proudly supported by Create NSW and this Hybrid Event Series has been made possible with support from the City of SydneyBell Shakespeare and Pyrus Events.

Image Description: A photo taken from the back of a room, featuring an audience watching an Auslan interpreted panel discussion. Photo by Dieter Knierim.


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