Octapod Appoints new Executive Manager David Couri

David Couri, new Executive Manager of Octapod, photographed in a t-shirt and denim jacket covered with buttons and patches.

The Board of The Octapod Association is delighted to announce the appointment of David Couri as our new Executive Manager.

David joins Octapod in a part-time capacity, continuing in his current role with the Samaritans Foundation and as Director of independent music festival Bad Vibrations.

His appointment comes at a crucial time for Octapod, which is running at a reduced capacity in 2019 after a key funding application was unsuccessful. Core services, such as Octapod’s membership program, and TiNA 2019 (This is Not Art Festival, now in its 22nd year) will not be affected, but the experience has served as a ‘wake-up call’ to the organisation, leading to a series of changes, including the appointment of a new Chair (Lauren van Katwyk, commencing February 2019) and administrative changes such as moving out of its offices at Pachamama House, Hamilton.

Chair of the Octapod Board Lauren van Katwyk said, “We’re excited to welcome David to Octapod to lead the organisation through an exciting period of growth. Big changes are underway for Octapod, and I’m excited to see fresh perspectives entering the organisation.”

“David offers a wonderful mix of commercial, creative, change management and community perspectives through his professional and personal experiences, and he is an active supporter of all of our core stakeholders including youth, the indigenous community, and DIY, emerging and established performers and artists.”

“His long-standing community ties are evidence of his passion for our region and its creative industries, and his belief in the power of art and artists to enliven communities.”

David Couri said, “As a younger artist and programmer, traveling to Newcastle for Sound Summit/TiNA was always such a highlight, and as a now-resident of Newcastle I’m starting to more fully uncover its important legacy.”

“Octapod has been a lynchpin in the lower Hunter’s creative communities for more than 20 years. Its wide range of support services are critical for the continued growth of our cultural sector – one of the Hunter’s most important assets.”

“I’m excited to be joining Octapod at such a dynamic time for our region. The organisation’s commitment to incubating creativity across the Hunter has grown from a grassroots beginning, and its ongoing support of art and artists at all stages and across diverse practices provides a strong foundation for culture by and for our community.”

In late May at Octapod’s AGM, the 2019/2020 Board of Directors were nominated, another key action item for a strengthened and renewed organisation: securing a full board with broad skills and expertise including diverse experiences across the arts sector, as well as legal, accountancy, and human resources.

2019/2020 Board Members: Lauren van Katwyk (Chair), Karen Stace (Deputy Chair), Emily Bowen (Secretary) and Shaun Serafin (Treasurer) Belinda Collins, Chanel Egan, Charlotte Hilder, Jenna Blayden, Katherine Britton, Leah Emmett, Stuart Slough, Susan Withycombe and Zaphiero Cerny (General Members). More information on board members is available on the Octapod Board page.

The new board represents a diverse mix of skills and experience, and, together with David, is dedicated to ushering Octapod into a new period of growth and community engagement.



Octapod is a membership-based organisation which supports emerging artists and arts organisations in Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Port Stephens and Cessnock. Our overall aim is to support growth in the lower Hunter’s cultural sector, and to achieve this we work with individuals, small and large groups, emerging and established groups, government, education and business.



David Couri has more than 15 years’ leadership experience across multiple sectors, applying values-based strategic and people management principles, and managing key stakeholder relationships. He is Founding Director of Bad Vibrations Records, an independent record label dedicated to the promotion of emerging and independent Australian artists, notable for the ‘Bad Vibrations’ music & arts festivals across Sydney and Melbourne. The festival supports gender diverse emerging artists across music, visual and performing arts. David also dedicates his time as a volunteer and has spent time working with OzHarvest, Rumbalara Aboriginal Cooperative and AIME. He lives in Newcastle with his wife, and is an avid beachgoer who is currently learning Auslan.