How long have you been at Tanks?
I am the Artistic Director of Cultural Services, Cairns Regional Council – this role sees me program Tanks Arts Centre, Munro Martin Parklands, Cairns Festival, Cairns Performing Arts Centre and the recent Festival 2018 Cairns (Comm Games Arts and Cultural Festival). I also programmed the Queensland Music Stage at Broadbeach for Festival 2018 Gold Coast. I have worked out of the Tanks Arts Centre since early 2013. The role began to grow from purely programming Tanks to the broader attache in approx. 2015 with a restructure of our branch. I find it challenging, creative, fun, exhausting and dynamic. I work with a blockbuster team in all facets, from management, to operations, to co-programmers, to marketing and together I always feel that we can achieve anything.
How big is your team and venue?
Tanks performing arts program works out of a 650 standing venue – but encompasses three massive Tanks which look after visual and performing arts, as well as community activation on a beautiful historic rainforest jungle site. Munro Martin Parklands is 3000 capacity, Cairns Performing Arts Centre will have a 940 proscenium arch theatre and a 400 studio space, and Cairns Festival is a community event which caters for approximately 200 events over its activation week including an annual Grand Parade which attracts 25 000 people with up to 3 000 participants and Carnival on Collins, a yearly street fair, which also attracts 25 000 over the day. Festival 2018 Cairns entertained and engaged over 80 000 people during 15 days with local and national works, collaborations and artists.
My direct team consists of marketing, ticketing, programmers, and producers for specialist events which at the moment consists of approx. 15 amazing humans. The broader Cultural Services team includes Visual Arts, Production, Administrators, Casual Event Staff, Cultural Planners which constitutes approximately 40 people.
Why did you choose a career in the performing arts venue sector?
My history is that of a touring musician and an educator. I grew up around the arts (or as much as you could possibly hope to see and witness in a tiny country town called Mena Creek 1.5 hours south of Cairns, watching your father run and manage a band which played every ball, wedding and event in North Queensland for 10 years). I was the first of my family to go to University and I took an English and Education major. It just seemed right and real that I would eventually fall into this profession. One that you really can’t go to university for, but have a natural affinity and calling for.
What makes Cairns special?
Cairns lifestyle is second to none. Cairns has the perfect mix of regional lifestyle and accessibility to a metro area. Our community is begging for high level, large scale, exciting performing arts. It is an honour to work in this community and deliver with them and to them, works that change lives forever.
What is your first performing arts memory?
I started a covers rock band called “The Concrete Pile-ons” with my next door neighbour when I was 14 in Mena Creek, Far North Qld. It was my first taste of being on stage, other than following my Dad’s local wedding and B&S band around regional Queensland. In terms of “higher” art it would have had to have been Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Theatre in Sydney. I was probably 14. It really set the scene. My love for the stage, especially as a performer, was truly embedded.
What was the last show you saw?
I see and am in music shows all the time, but the last theatre show I saw was Beginnings: a musical theatre community engagement piece that I commissioned and produced for Festival 2018 (Cairns). It was a 2-hour original music spectacle starring 300+ of our community on stage, singing our original songs about our local story, accompanied by a local orchestra told with the previously unseen refocus of an Indigenous perspective in front of 3 500 of our community. This work has set a precedent for high level community performing arts activation in our region, for unbelievable community and cultural collaboration, and for a local community willing to witness a new work. It has raised a bar for our performing arts community.
What do you do when you aren’t working?
Gym, write songs, create shows, work with emerging artists from diverse cultural backgrounds, play with my beautiful doggie, hang out, drink, eat and create with my friends, and eat and relax with my family.