Adelaide Fringe, which lays claim to being the biggest open access festival in the southern hemisphere, has appointed Kuku Yalanji-Torres Strait Islander woman Odette Pearson to its board.

Dr Pearson has a PhD in Health Economics and Social Policy from the University of South Australia and is a senior research fellow at UniSA and the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute.

She said open access festivals like the Fringe provided a range of health benefits for artists and audiences.

“Whether you’re making or engaging with and artistic work, it’s quite therapeutic and it’s a great way to express yourself and share your culture,” Dr Pearson said.

“It’s for this reason I was happy to accept a position as a member of the Adelaide Fringe Board, and I look forward to helping this fantastic festival continue its work to make the arts as accessible as possible.”

Adelaide Fringe Board chair David Minear said Dr Pearson brought a valuable set of skills and her appointment reflected the festival’s commitment to cultural inclusivity.

“Her in-depth research background, high-level education and hands-on experience with the health and wellbeing of Indigenous Australians all make her a significant and valued addition to the board of the Adelaide Fringe,” Mr Minear said.

“The Adelaide Fringe has a deep commitment and true desire to showcase First Nations culture and heritage and to continue to change minds and perceptions.”

“For me, being truly aware and genuinely inclusive of Indigenous people, culture, art and history shouldn’t be a sometimes thing. It is something we need to be always aware of and respectful of.”

“As the saying goes, art can change hearts and minds, and Odette gives us more power to deliver that aim.”

The Adelaide Fringe runs from February 15 to March 17.