“A lot of us have spent years and years and years creating works, seeing work, hanging out with friends, falling in love there, having our heart broken there… so that space holds a lot of memory, a lot of ghosts.”
It was a huge 2019 for Metro Arts: selling the Heritage-listed building it’s called home for decades, establishing a multi-million dollar arts fund, negotiating new digs and through it all, programming and commissioning a packed slate of contemporary work.
Leading the multi-arts organisation through these unchartered waters was Jo Thomas; meeting emotional opposition to the sale with calm and reason, throwing herself into the unfamiliar world of investment and finance and still programming award-winning theatre.
“I’ve had the craziest year understanding investment of money, meeting every property developer in Brisbane, going and meeting philanthropists and people who run foundations and advocating constantly.”
In this podcast, Jo reflects on Metro Arts’ impending 40th birthday; the creative solutions arts organisations must find to thrive in the face of dwindling government funding; and how artists must be afforded space and opportunity to push the envelope, to experiment and to deliver important work without the imposition of commercial conditions.
With a background in cabaret and circus, Jo reveals the surprising similarities between her performance past and her future as custodian of Metro Art’s once-in-a-generation evolution.
“You’ve got to keep your focus on everything and make sure not one little plate can drop, not one little area loses your focus.”
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GUEST: Jo Thomas, Creative Director and CEO of Metro Arts
HOST: Belinda Seeney