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Get to know your old scholar community. Each month we'll introduce you to an old scholar so you can get better acquainted with your peers.

1 June 2020

Penny Griggs (1987) is the CEO of the Adelaide Central School of Art and is also a Marriage Celebrant. Having previously worked at the SALA Festival and the Adelaide Festival Centre, she is passionate about the arts and arts education. Penny has been a mentor for our Careers Breakfast for many years and continues to support Pembroke.

What is your favourite memory of your time at Pembroke?
One of my favourite memories was being part of an end of year revue show to celebrate the end of Year 12. Presented by the 1987 Year 12s it was quite irreverent however the staff and our fellow students received it with great humour. Well that’s how I remember it. I am not sure Year 12s could get away with it now!

I also recall many happy hours in the art room and in Wright theatre as well as many early mornings at the pool for Water Polo.

What is your biggest career highlight?
I’ve had so many career highlights from working on flagship events at Adelaide Festival Centre to leading the SALA (South Australian Living Artists) Festival. I’ve been fortunate to work with some very talented people over the years – including many old scholars. I think the most satisfying aspect has been seeing first-hand the transformative potential of arts. I am very proud to be part of the arts community in Australia. A community that is inclusive and accepting of all people. Ideas are explored, debated and challenged daily. It is an incredibly dynamic industry and rarely a dull moment.

The best advice I have ever been given was…
Face your fears and be yourself.

My favourite thing to do in Adelaide is…
Enjoying our world-class festivals. Particularly SALA Festival, Adelaide Cabaret Festival and WOMAD. Hopefully we will be able to gather again soon.

What is something you are passionate about?
This will come as no surprise to people who know me. The arts and in particular arts education.

Name three places that are on your bucket list.
Gosh there is quite a list however here’s three – Ntaria (Hermannsburg), Western Aranda country; Naoshima, Japan’s art island; Gibbs Farm Sculpture Park, New Zealand.

If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
Jacinda Ardern – she is an extraordinary leader and I imagine great company.

Name a dish that reminds you of your childhood.
Rice pudding.

Who was your favourite teacher at Pembroke and why?
Di Medlin – while technically she was not my teacher she was inspirational. She had time for everyone and always believed in me.

What is the biggest risk you have taken?
Apart from that time I ran with a bull in Spain. It was probably moving to Melbourne without a job in the late ‘90s. It paid off as within weeks I was employed in a great role at Melbourne Theatre Company.

Penny Griggs at school 1987 photo by Hannah Watkins

Penny Griggs at school in 1987