Marieke Hardy

Artistic Director

Marieke is a curator, screenwriter, artist, author and immersive theatre maker. She has penned regular columns for The Age, The Drum and Frankie magazine, and written for many television shows, including Laid, The Family Law and Seven Types of Ambiguity. She is co-curator of international literary salon Women of Letters and a regular panelist on ABC’s The Book Club. A collection of her essays was released through Allen and Unwin in 2011. She is a recipient of the 2015 Sidney Myer Fellowship and creates secret art parties that are produced anonymously.

Shona Barrett

Chief Executive Officer

Shona has over 15 years’ experience working in arts and culture. Born and raised in the UK, Shona spent a decade at the British Film Institute in London in a number of roles, including managing projects that saw the preservation and re-release of films from the UK National Film Archive, before relocating to Melbourne. Shona was MWF’s general manager for five years, leading planning and production for the organisation. She is chair of the National Young Writers’ Festival, and is also a keen trail-runner and a lover of cocktails.

Gene Smith

Program Manager

Prior to joining MWF, Gene worked in programming and project management at Sydney Writers’ Festival. Before this, he worked in various capacities at a number of arts and cultural organisations, including Queensland Performing Arts Centre, the National Institute of Dramatic Art, Sydney Opera House, and the Australian Chamber Orchestra. From 2013 to 2014, Gene managed Front Row Theatre, one of Brisbane’s oldest community theatre companies; and has also volunteered for Sydney Opera House’s All About Women festival and the Mardi Gras Film Festival.

Tania Owen

Head of Marketing & Development

Tania is a born and bred Melburnian who recognised her love for her city during a ten-year sojourn in London, UK. A professional arts marketer of 15 years, Tania has worked for major cultural venues and festivals including Arts Centre Melbourne and Melbourne International Arts Festival. Most recently Tania has been part of the management team steering Melbourne’s preeminent LGBTQIA three-week cultural event Midsumma Festival, toward an even more inclusive and artistic future. She loves a yarn after work, maybe too much.

Tamsien West

Development Executive

Before joining the team at MWF Tamsien managed key accounts and fundraising for the Forest Stewardship Council, and has also spent time as an intern with Fairtrade, worked in retail for Oxfam and designed marketing strategies for social enterprises. In her spare time, she moonlights as ‘Babbling Books’, a successful multi-platform book-blogging profile – reviewing a variety of genres, producing videos and taking more photos of books than is strictly necessary. When she isn’t working or blogging, Tamsien can be found reading, painting, or planning her next international adventure.

Irene Kalpakas

Marketing Campaign Manager

Irene is a lifelong lit lover and MWF's resident grammar nerd. She has worked in marketing but always knew her passion lay within the literary and publishing worlds, and has found her happy place by combining the two. As well as a freelance copyeditor, Irene is a balloon inflator extraordinaire after spending many years as a party assistant. She can usually be found curled up with a book or binge-watching television shows while covered in (gluten-free) cookie crumbs.

Jessica Harvie

Festival Administrator

After working in mental health and community health, Jessica returns to her true love of literature by joining the team at MWF. A self-professed genre nerd, she has an excessive amount of overdue library fines and is constantly behind on the latest science-fiction show. After growing up in regional Victoria, Jessica is still as enamoured by Melbourne’s public transport system as she was when she first moved here: as unstructured reading time.