Festival Ambassadors

Renowned Harvard educator Professor David Perkins, dance legend Renie Ann Martini and acclaimed authors and educators Hazel Edwards and John Marsden have thrown their support behind the Arts Learning Festival as Festival Ambassadors.

The four have recorded video messages in which they explore the importance of the arts and the role of the Arts Learning Festival.

Professor David Perkins

Professor David Perkins is a Principal Investigator and Research Professor of Teaching and Learning at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Professor Perkins, an author of several well-known books on education, has always been an advocate of the role the arts play in education.

In his message for the Arts Learning Festival, Professor Perkins describes the Arts Learning Festival as an exciting enterprise.

The arts, he says, are as close to anything we can find to a common language. And in this era, divisions seem to be more in the foreground than commonalities. ‘It’s a time when we need that common language.’


Renie Ann Martini OAM

Renie Ann Martini is a name synonymous with dance. She is the principal of the May Downs School of Dance, in a career that has combined her own talent and performances with a love of teaching.

The school was where she began her own dancing as a child. She has been the principal and owner of May Downs for more than three decades, nurturing and developing thousands of students. She is a Life Member of the Royal Academy of Dance Australia and was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2013 for services to the performing arts, particularly through dance education.

She says in her video for the festival that over her many years of teaching, ‘I can’t stress enough how important the arts through dance mean to young people’s lives, how it changes their lives forever’.


John Marsden

He is one of Australia’s best-known authors, in his home country and abroad. His first book, So Much to Tell You,  was published in 1987. That was followed by other best sellers including the Tomorrow series and The Ellie Chronicles. In Australia alone, he has sold more than 2.5 million books.

But John is also an educator and teacher. In 2006, he started his own school, Candlebark, on the Tye Estate on the northern edge of Melbourne. The vision expanded and he is now principal of the Candlebark and Alice Millar Schools.

In his video message, John says: ‘I think we all know that creativity is going to be one of the major criteria for success in the 21st Century for young people.’

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Hazel Edwards OAM

We all know Hazel Edwards as the author of the favourite children’s book There’s a Hippopotamus on the Roof Eating Cake series. Our roof leaks. Drip! Drip! Drip! My Daddy says there’s a hole on the roof. I know why there’s a hole. There’s a hippopotamus on our roof eating cake.

But that’s only part of the Hazel Edwards story. She has more than 200 books published, runs writing workshops, mentors writers, and a reading ambassador and passionate educator. In 2013, she was awarded an order of Australia Medal for services to literature.

As she says in her video message, the Arts Learning Festival will provide students with opportunities to collaborate, but also risk take.

‘Our children are the problem-solvers of the future, and they need an opportunity to try to put ideas together in formats that haven’t been before…’