Our People

Meet the people who make art happen at Courthouse Youth Arts

Ilana Russell

Executive Producer

Ilana is a curator, producer and researcher, working across contemporary art practice. In addition to her work at CHYA, she is a Research Fellow with Deakin University’s Public Art Commission, and a Producer for City of Melbourne’s Test Sites program. Her practice explores site specificity and response through the model of laboratories, residencies and cross-disciplinary collaboration.
Ilana has presented works with the 58th International Venice Biennale, Melbourne Festival, White Night, Melbourne Fringe, New Zealand Festival (Wellington) and Public Art Melbourne; and with organisations including National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Arts Centre Melbourne, Arts House Melbourne, Arts Access Victoria, ILBIJERRI Theatre, Black Arm Band and RMIT University.
Currently she is undertaking Master of Arts (Art in Public Space) at RMIT.

Amber Smith

Curator & Visual Arts Programmer

Amber Smith is an emerging artist, curator, creative programmer and writer working within the sphere of objects, thing theory and collection practices. Amber Smith’s practice manifests in the physical – through assemblage, abstract workings of objects, archive systems, unique and abstract typological arrangements, performative actions and installations, and the written – through collecting, compiling and assembling words, a poetic practice that runs alongside her work with objects. Amber Smith is a current PhD candidate at Deakin University in the School of Communication and Creative Arts. She holds a bachelor of Design Arts (Visual Arts) and a First-Class Honours Degree in Creative Arts at Deakin. www.ambersmithart.co

Joshua Allen

Performance Producer

Joshua Allen is a producer and writer working in contemporary performance. He is a current Australia Council Future Leader and peer assessor, curator with Multicultural Arts Victoria for their Asia performing arts program and a producer in the Next Wave Festival 2020 program. Josh is also a recipient of an Asialink Arts Creative Exchange funded by Creative Victoria in 2019 where he will spend three months in Indonesia hosted by Komunitas Salihara. His practice centres intersectionality; working with artists from queer, First Nations and culturally diverse backgrounds who explore intercultural ideas, gender and sexuality. As a producer he has worked in the UK as a Young Producer for Battersea Arts Centre and an Assistant Producer for Milk Presents touring their production Joan to Edinburgh Fringe and Australia. Josh has previously worked for arts organisations across Australia and in the UK including: Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts, Perth Festival, Emerging Writers' Festival, The Blue Room Theatre, FRINGE WORLD Festival and the Gate Theatre

Kgshak Akec

Media & Communications Coordinator + Writing Programmer
Kgshak is a self-proclaimed storyteller, she is inspired by her surroundings and uses her vision to execute meaningful creations. She dabbles in writing, photography, videography, interior decorating, graphic design, painting, dance and everything in between. When she isn’t off expressing her creative energy on one project or another or utilising her talents at CHYA, Kgshak can be found reading a book in a park somewhere or at home watching a visually stunning or action-packed film. Kgshak graduated from Deakin University with a Bachelor of Digital Media and Communication and is currently pursuing her Masters in Creative Writing.

Travis Don

Operations Manager

Travis Don is an eager tech and gear-head who is a friendly and approachable young mentor for anyone who wants to be involved behind the (very important scenes) of sound and lighting. He completed his certificate of Advance Diploma in Sound Production in 2016. He has worked in venues such as the Regent Theatre in Melbourne, and is the current Production Technician at Courthouse Youth Arts. A drummer from a young age, he has played in numerous bands around the region. He is currently involved as head beat maker in two bands in Geelong and Ballarat and has been enjoying collecting an array of gear for his studio