Dr Virginia Keft

2023 Alumni Award for Arts and Culture

Bachelor of Creative Arts (Honours), 2001, Doctor of Philosophy, Communication and Cultural Studies, 2007

A proud Murrawarri woman living and working on Dharawal and Gadigal Country, Dr Virginia Keft’s contribution to Australia’s cultural landscape as a practising artist, curator, performer, First Nations producer, and award-winning researcher is immense.

Virginia has a deep passion for increasing accessibility in contemporary arts and leading change through innovative and culturally safe arts and culture programs. Over the past 25 years, she has produced and curated diverse programs recognising the continuity of culture and the crucial and ongoing contribution of First Nations communities in the arts, education, community, and Country.  

As Arts and Dementia Coordinator for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs at the iconic Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Sydney, Virginia has developed cultural programs that challenge, educate, and advance the values of cultural diversity and inclusion, including the celebrated Bangawarra Art Yarns. She is also a First Nations Producer for Blacktown Arts and contributes her passion and expertise through The Red Rattler Theatre’s First Nations Advisory Committee and the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras’ Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group.

Virginia’s own artistic practice spans painting, drawing, weaving, sculpture, and sound art. A finalist in several major art prizes, her work is a powerful statement on the resilience of tradition, the persistence of cultural memory, and the strength of Aboriginal identity.

Also a multi-award-winning professional dancer and instructor, she established Cinnamon Twist Belly Dance and has spent over two decades sharing her love of oriental dance, including creating the highly successful Wollongong Belly Dance Festival and music and movement programs for people living with dementia. Her PhD focused on the history of belly dance in history and culture, and she has since published several works and become a respected academic in her field.

Dr Virginia Keft has dedicated her career and her life to making arts and culture accessible to our broader society, advancing diversity and inclusion, and delivering programs that reflect, connect, and celebrate our First Nations communities.