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CIAF 2024

New CEO to propel CIAF into a new era of innovation and impact

29 May 2024

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Following an extensive national search for its new leader, Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) proudly announces Dennis Stokes's appointment as Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

With a distinguished career spanning over two decades in the arts and media sector, Mr Stokes brings a wealth of experience and a deep commitment to empowering First Nations voices and self-determination in the arts.

A proud descendant of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage, Mr Stokes hails from Darwin and belongs to the Wardamann, Luritja, and Warramunga peoples of the Northern Territory and the Wagadagam people of the Torres Strait. His extensive career includes pivotal roles such as CEO of Mimi Aboriginal Arts & Craft, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, and First Nations Media Australia.

Reflecting on his new role, Mr Stokes is committed to fostering collaboration within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander creative and arts sectors. 

"I am deeply honoured to join CIAF as CEO. I aim to work with our diverse communities, stakeholders, sponsors and philanthropists across Queensland and the nation to advance a shared vision of empowering First Nations voices and achieving self-determination in the arts sector,” Mr Stokes said.

CIAF 2024

CIAF Chair, Dr Bianca Beetson, welcomed Mr Stokes to the organisation and thanked outgoing general manager Darrell Harris for his management since 2020. 

"I would like to thank Darrell Harris for his leadership, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic when CIAF needed to pivot almost overnight to a digital-only event.

“We are thrilled to have Dennis join us as CEO to lead CIAF into its next evolution. His knowledge and understanding of Indigenous arts and culture organisations and his strategic leadership will help propel CIAF into a new era of innovation and impact,” Dr Beetson said.

Mr Stokes commenced his appointment with CIAF this month. 

CIAF will celebrate its 15th anniversary between Thursday, 25 July, and Sunday, 28 July 2024. Creating a cultural thread connecting highlight events, the Art Fair exhibition, two-day symposium and fashion performance, this year’s program takes a cue from the theme, Country Speaking.


Image credit: CIAF CEO Dennis Stokes (left) with CIAF's Curatorial Associate Teho Ropeyarn