Board Members - Ulumbarra Foundation
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Mentor Program

The Ulumbarra Foundation is devoted to supporting performing artists, organisations and audiences in our Greater Bendigo community through inspirational programs and funding initiatives.

We are proud to offer a performing arts Mentor Program to support young – and perhaps not so young – people in our community with an interest in pursuing a career or furthering their passion in the performing arts.

Our mentors are established performing arts professionals, all industry leaders in diverse fields, who have volunteered to provide professional guidance and mentorship to Bendigo performing arts aspirants and participants.

We invite Bendigo’s up-and-coming performers and those interested in career development in any aspect of performance or production to apply for the program.

This opportunity is provided free of charge, supported by the Ulumbarra Foundation and program mentors who are generously providing their time and services in a voluntary capacity.

To apply for inclusion in the Mentor Program please complete the Expression of Interest at the bottom of this page.

For more information, email or phone Ulumbarra Foundation Board Member Rob Blum on 0428 373 455 for more information.


Cally Bartlett

Composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist, Cally Bartlett lives and works in Bendigo Victoria as an educator teaching Strings and Classroom Music at Girton Grammar School since 2007. Cally was appointed Head of Faculty – Arts at Girton Grammar and is leading a culture of collaboration and Arts excellence across the school. Currently she is the Music Director of the City of Greater Bendigo Brass Band, Principal Viola with the Bendigo Symphony Orchestra and is a founding committee member of Bendigo Youth Music. As a composer, Cally’s arrangements for Brass Band and String Quartet are available to purchase commercially.


 Kyrilee Bodin 

 VCA graduate Kyrilee Bodin is a big believer in enjoying all aspects of live performance. Kyrilee has excelled in various roles in premier Melbourne and Bendigo arts companies and organisations. Whether as Stage Manager, Technical Operator or Logistics Coordinator Kyrilee is a much sought after industry professional, recently returning to her hometown Bendigo and delivering technical services to Bendigo Venues & Events, Arena Theatre Company and her own multifaceted theatrical company, That’s Classic. 

Ash Bird

Ash Bird is an educator, performer and composer, having had completed a Bachelor of Music Performance with Honours at the Victorian College of the Arts where he studied under Peter Constant and Dr Anthony Field. During this time he studied with Classical Guitar Composer Phillip Houghton in Brisbane and went on to be awarded 2nd prize at the Adelaide Spring Guitar Festival Competitions. Since then Ash has performed regularly in original and cover bands whilst being an educator in the Bendigo region for 20 years, currently the Music Coordinator at Bendigo Senior Secondary College.


Ben Van Dillen 

Currently working as the Technical Operations Manager for the Geelong Arts Centre, Ben Van Dillen’s career started at 16 as a trainee. He has since worked in and toured to numerous countries, undertaking a variety of roles in theatres, concert halls and arenas: notably working as the Touring Production Manager of Circus Oz, Technical Co-Ordinator at fortyfivedownstairs, the Touring Head of Lighting for Opera Australia, managing an onboard lighting department for Princess Cruises and Production Manager for Arena Theatre Co.


Paul Jackson 

Paul Jackson APDG is a multi-award winning lighting designer and theatre maker whose practice encompasses theatre, opera, dance, music theatre, concerts and live events. He is a graduate of the University of Melbourne and RMIT. Paul has designed lighting for The Australian Ballet, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Berlin Staatsballett, West Australian Ballet, Victorian Opera, West Australian Opera, Sydney Theatre Company, Melbourne Theatre Company, Gordon Frost Organization, TML, The Production Company, Bell Shakespeare, Playbox, Malthouse, Belvoir, Ballet Lab, Lucy Guerin, Chunky Move, World of Wearable Art New Zealand, Kage, Australian Art Orchestra, La Mama, Chamber Made Opera and others. 

Stephen Briggs

Stephen Briggs is an impassioned musician, educator and advocate for the performing arts with a rich history of leadership in educational and community settings that spans over 20+ years. Stephen won the prestigious Musician of the Year award and the Bernstein Young Performers award before beginning studies at the Conservatorium of Music, University of Melbourne. Since completing those studies Stephen has worked as a private teacher, classroom teacher, accompanist, Head of Music, Head of Arts Faculty Leader. He established the Academy of Creative Arts Program at Bendigo South East College and has continued to consistently perform as a soloist with classical and contemporary ensembles.

Cynthia Holsworth

Cynthia Holsworth had the privilege after completing her Bachelor of Arts and Graduate Diploma of Education to perform and record with many professionals, including Tommy Tycho, Graeme Lyall, Debra Byrne, James Morrison, Tommy Emmanuel, MSO Strings and Geminiani Chamber Orchestra. She currently works in her hometown of Bendigo, having spent many years as a teacher of instrumental music in secondary schools while developing a love for musical theatre undertaking the role of Musical Director for many local productions. Cynthia was employed by BSE College where she created and managed the award-winning Academy of Creative Arts. More recently, she has joined the Bendigo Symphony Orchestra as Secretary and Principal Flute.

Alice Topp 

Alice Topp was born and raised in Bendigo and started dancing at the age of four. After two years with Royal New Zealand Ballet, she joined The Australian Ballet in 2007. Her passion for choreography began when she created her first work, Trace, for the 2010 season of Bodytorque, the company’s choreographic showcase. Her work Aurum (created with the support of a Rudolf Nureyev Prize for New Dance) appeared at New York’s Joyce Theater in 2019, and won the 2019 Helpmann Award for Best Ballet. She was nominated for a Green Room Award (Little Atlas, 2017) and for two Australian Dance Awards (Same Vein, 2014 and Trace, 2010). She has choreographed music videos for artists including Megan Washington and Ben Folds, and created works for Houston Ballet II and Queensland Ballet. She was appointed one of The Australian Ballet’s resident choreographers in 2018.


Alana Tranter 

Alana Tranter is a VCA graduate with theatre credits including the Australian premiere of Georgy Girl – The Seekers Musical, ‘Ernestina’ in Hello Dolly for The Production Company and lead vocalist in California Dreaming-The Music of the Mamas and the Papas. Alana has created roles in two new Australian works, ‘Clarice’ in Dreamsong and ‘Maggie’ in NED – The New Australian Musical and was involved in the STC workshop of Muriel’s Wedding. She is currently a cast member of Come From Away the musical.

Gavin Moncrief

Gavin Moncrief is a well-known drummer to Bendigo locals who has shared the stage with legendary Aussie bands such as You Am I, Motor Ace, The Living End, and Magic Dirt in the early 2000s. He has been playing in venues since he was 16, with bands Ruetger, Four Lions and The Regular Joes. Gavin completed studies as a classical percussionist and has the knowledge of well-rounded experience performing rock and jazz primarily.

Thomas Heywood

Thomas Heywood, an internationally renowned Australian organ virtuoso, is celebrated as one of the world’s leading concert organists, praised for his impeccable technique and extensive repertoire exceeding 5,000 works. He has travelled over 750,000 miles performing solo concerts on prestigious pipe organs globally, becoming the first Australian musician to live as a professional concert organist. Heywood’s ambitious projects include transcribing and recording the complete Beethoven symphonies for solo organ, alongside his commitment to preserving Australia’s pipe organ heritage. As an educator he serves on the faculty of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and directs Organ Scholars Program at Haileybury, Australia’s largest school. He has embarked on numerous international solo tours and holds the distinction of being the most performed organist in Australia, having given over 1,750 concerts to date.

Merlyn Quaife

A performer of great versatility, the distinguished soprano Merlyn Quaife was honoured as a member of the Order of Australia in 2013, excelling in opera, oratorio, Lieder, and contemporary music across Australia and Europe. Notable roles include Lucia in “Lucia di Lammermoor” and Chiang Ch’ing in “Nixon in China”. Her American debut in Gordon Kerry’s “Meeda” at the Kennedy Centre was followed by successful performances in Berlin. She has inspired numerous compositions dedicated to her, such as Gordon Kerry’s “Kindled Skies”. Merlyn has made significant contributions to music education, holding positions at the University of Melbourne and Monash University, and teaching internationally in Germany, Austria and the USA.

Expressions of Interest

Thank you for your interest in the Ulumbarra Foundation Mentor Program.

The Ulumbarra Foundation is fortunate to have attracted a range of high-quality mentors with experience in various performing arts fields. They have been chosen based on their capacity to help others pursue their interests. All mentors are providing this generous and skilled support on a volunteer basis.


Our guidelines for mentoring include the following:

  • Mentors will work with just one mentee, matched according the interests of both parties
  • Contact may be face to face or remote, depending upon the availability and needs of both parties
  • The frequency of contact will be determined by both parties; as a guide this may be 30-45-minute conversation every 2-3 months, but may be more frequent depending on the needs of the individual.
  • The initial mentoring period is 12 months
  • It is likely the greatest benefit for the mentee will be derived from the opportunity to discuss their current performing arts involvement and to use the experience of the mentor to guide their thinking and development about their future goals.
  • It is not intended that mentors replace any existing coaching or tuition arrangements


The Ulumbarra Foundation takes seriously its duty to provide participants with a professional service and a safe and healthy working environment. We are a child safe organisation. All mentors will have a current Working With Children Check (depending on your age it may be necessary for you to obtain parent approval to participate).


If you are selected to participate in this program you will:

  • Be introduced to your mentor and helped to understand their history of involvement in the performing arts and what they are currently doing
  • Be supported through an induction program
  • Agree with your mentor how and when you will contact one another
  • Consider your goals for the program and discuss this with your mentor
  • Be contacted on a quarterly basis by a member of the Ulumbarra Foundation’s Community Connection Committee to discuss the progress of your mentoring
  • Have a liaison person within the committee to whom you can direct any questions or concerns

If you are interested in being a part of the mentor program, please fill out the expression of interest form below.