View the program overview and read more about each session

Online Registrations for The Big Watercooler have now closed. If you'd like to book in last minute come along to the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts at 12noon today and see our team on the rego desk to book in!

Panel Session Speakers

Panel 1

Alethea Beetson
Alethea Beetson is a kabi kabi + wiradjuri artist and producer living on stolen land in Brisbane. She skerms in her seat when her professional bio is read out because despite the grandeur of it all, she mostly answers a lot of emails. Every job she now has, Alethea owes to the often-silenced work of the Indigenous people who have gone before her. Although her physical appearance might suggest she likes long walks on the beach, candle-lit dinners and foreign movies, in reality she is all about decolonisation, cultural resurgence and ancestral connection.

Dan Clarke
Daniel Clarke is currently the Executive Producer, Programming at QPAC for the next twelve months.  He is on leave from his role as Creative Producer Theatre & Contemporary Performance at Arts Centre Melbourne. Prior to Arts Centre Melbourne Daniel was Creative Producer/CEO of Theatre Works, St Kilda and Artistic Director of Adelaide’s Feast Queer Arts and Cultural Festival.  He has worked both in Australia and the UK as a Director and Creative Producer. Previously in Brisbane he has partnered with organisations to present Taylor Mac, Lea Delaria, Jamie Lewis’ Saltwater, The Wau Wau Sisters, Penny Arcade, Bryony Kimmings, Little Ones Theatre’s Psycho Beach Party and Nilaja Sun’s No Child…  He was awarded the Sidney Myer Creative Facilitator Prize in 2016.

Sanja Simic
Sanja is currently the Creative Producer at La Boite Theatre Company, where she has worked across numerous projects including the programming and delivery of consecutive HWY festivals, the Sydney season of Michelle Law’s Single Asian Female(2018), the national tour of Future D Fidel’s Prize Fighter (2018), and multiple seasons of The Village (2017,2018). Sanja has created work for La Boite, Tamarama Rock Surfers, PACT Theatre, Brisbane Festival, Griffin Theatre Company, Merrigong Theatre Company, Sydney and Adelaide Fringe Festivals, NovemberISM, and Shopfront Theatre. Her most recent theatre directing includes Claire Christian’s Lysa & The Freeborn Dames for La Boite’s 2018 Season and Bodysnatchers’ production of Mark Rogers’ Plastic for Old 505’s 2017 Season.

Kris Stewart
Artistic Director of Brisbane Powerhouse, Kris Stewart has a wealth of experience across a variety of events and art forms both nationally and internationally.  He is the founding director of such major events as the New York Musical Theatre Festival, The Sydney Fringe Festival, Curiocity Brisbane, the Festival of Voices and New Musicals Australia.  At Brisbane Powerhouse, Kris founded the Queensland Cabaret Festival, Wonderland, IRL Digital Festival and MELT Queer Culture Festival and headed a number of key events, including the Brisbane Comedy Festival, the Australian Performing Arts Market, and the World Theatre Festival.

Jo Thomas
Jo has a long history with Metro Arts as a performance-maker and producer and now as Creative Director + CEO continues to champion the creation and presentation of new contemporary work.  Her previous experience has been in programming, producing and performance.  Jo was a 2012 recipient of the prestigious Churchill Fellowship; and one of only 5 Australian producers selected for the Asian Producer Platform – a 4-year initiative connecting producers from across Asia.  Jo is a graduate of both Queensland University of Technology and University of Southern Queensland and has recently completed the inaugural Masters Fine Arts (Cultural Leadership) at NIDA.

Panel 2


David Finn
David has worked in the Production industry since the age of 16 turning a hobby into a fulfilling career, working on a wide range of productions and with an even wider collective of artists throughout Brisbane, Queensland and Australia.  David took up the Theatre Technical Manager role at the Ipswich Civic Centre in 2009 and has continued to develop his career at Ipswich with being appointed to the position of Technical and Operations Manager in 2011, Theatre Operations and Services Manager in 2016 & Head of Programming 2019.

Ant McKenna
Ant McKenna’s diverse experience includes almost ten years with local government (including running a gallery, RADF program, developing regional festivals & projects), eight years with a music industry peak body (including running BIGSOUND in 2005), three years fundraising for an innovative not-for-profit (The Seed Program) and ongoing work for over 25 years as a professional touring musician (including nominated for Qld Music Awards 2018).  Ant is currently Program Manager at BEMAC, Queensland’s sole arts organisation dedicated to the presenting, producing and developing culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) artists and arts within the state. BEMAC also manages the Qld Multicultural Centre (QMC) in Kangaroo Point and delivers the Regional Arts Services Network (RASN) program in Logan and Ipswich.

Jess Rassmussen
An experienced community connector passionate about diversity and working with CALD communities, with a demonstrated history working within the arts industry. Skilled in business development, stakeholder engagement, business and venue management, change management, community engagement, events programming and working with not-for-profit organisations.  Experienced in intercultural communication and relationship building within diverse communities. Providing the opportunity for people to tell their stories through artistic practice and providing them with a safe space to share, within our venue of SunPAC.

Zane Trow
Zane is the Creative Arts Manager at Redland City Council and has also serves as Chair of Media Arts Asia Pacific (MAAP). Formally Professional Development Coordinator for Access Arts Inc., Associate Professor of QUT Performance Studies, Artistic Director of the South Bank Corporation, Chairman of Youth Arts Qld, Artistic Advisor at Metro Arts Centre & CEO/Artistic Director of the Brisbane Powerhouse Centre for the Live Arts. In Sydney – CEO/Artistic Director of The Performance Space. In Melbourne – CEO/Artistic Director of the Next Wave Festival, Chairman of the Contemporary Music Events Company & CEO/Director of the Footscray Community Arts Centre.

Tina Wittke 
Tina Wittke is Program Leader of Logan Entertainment Centre and Community Venues at Logan City Council where she leads business units including the programming, bookings, technical, catering, marketing and ticketing teams that service the 6 venues in operation. Tina is currently working on the redevelopment of Kingston Butter Factory Precinct and the construction of a new 5000 capacity outdoor stage. Prior to working with Council, Tina worked in the technical and production team at Brisbane Powerhouse. Tina is an active member of Stage Queensland and the Venue Management Association Asia Pacific.

Panel 3

Katie Edminston
With almost 20 years of practice within the arts and cultural sector, community organisations, state and local government, peak bodies, universities and businesses Katie has developed her knowledge and passion for building the engagement, connection, capacity and revitalisation of local communities through arts and culture. She is excited to take on a new leadership role as the SEQ Regional Arts Services Network Manager and look forward to working with other creative leaders in Gympie, Noosa, Sunshine Coast, Moreton Bay, Somerset and Redland local government areas.

Kate Fell
Kate is the Program Director at Brisbane Festival. Previous roles include; Executive Producer, Public Engagement and Learning (QPAC), Creative Director of Festival 2018 and the Strategic Initiatives Manager for Circa, a role which also saw Kate lead arTour.  Kate has programmed and produced events and projects for many Queensland organisations, including Queensland Music Festival, State Library of Queensland and Brisbane Powerhouse.  Kate has also worked across the youth and community sector including as CEO of Youth Arts Queensland and as a consultant at Fieldworx. 

Luke Harriman
Luke Harriman is the Manager of Gympie Regional Council’s Venues and Events Unit which includes Gympie Regional Gallery, Major Events, Major Venues, Creative Industries and Cultural Development. He has worked in the creative industries for 20 years accumulating a range of experiences around the world in programming, strategic planning, community engagement, events, touring and festivals with organisations such as Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Brisbane Powerhouse, Brisbane City Council, Gilded Balloon (Edinburgh and Glasgow). Prior to Gympie Regional Council Luke worked as the Creative Broker for arTour, Queensland’s centre of contemporary touring, developing new initiatives to support the tour sector and coordinating a range of state and national tours.

Jacky Smith
Jacky Smith has a breadth of experience in Marketing and Development and over the course of her 25 year career she has worked extensively across the arts and entertainment sector in Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne. Currently working as Marketing & Development Officer at Venue 114 on The Sunshine Coast, Queensland. She has worked on major events for Arts Project Australia including;  Womad, ASSITEJ World Congress and Festival for Children, Come-Out Children’s Festival, AIDC and for Regional Arts Australia in Melbourne. Straight out of University she worked in media for Channel 10, at Radio Station B105 and has also worked extensively in the Film Industry. Her passion lies in programming and developing events that empower and engage the community.

Jeanette Wedmaier
Jeanette Wedmaier is a Stage Management trained Arts Administrator based in regional Queensland currently employed as Projects Manager for the Empire Theatres. Jeanette manages the community engagement arm of the Empire Theatres including Empire Youth Arts, Education Liaison and community projects.  As the contract holder, Jeanette also assists with the implementation of the Regional Arts Services Network in South West Qld. Jeanette has facilitated and produced community arts projects for the past 15 years with the Empire Theatres in Toowoomba and the surrounds.  She has a vast knowledge and experience in the sector and established relationships with artists and networks nationwide. Jeanette is an experience grant writer and producer being able to recognise where arts practice can support and nurture community growth and development.

Conversation Table Speakers

Conversation 1

Danielle Kellie
Danielle began her career as a Stage Manager and Production Manager freelancing for festivals and companies around Australia and overseas such as Queensland Theatre Company; Melbourne Theatre Company; La Boite; Brisbane Festival; QPAT; Queensland Music Festival and Kooemba Jdarra. She was the resident Stage Manager of Queensland Ballet 1998 - 1999 and Opera Queensland 2003 - 2007. In 2010 Danielle commenced working at Circa moving into the Senior Producer role in 2011. Danielle produces Circa’s new creations as well as managing the touring and logistics for Circa’s national and international touring, averaging 400 shows in 15 countries per year.

Tanya Malouf
Tanya has been working in the live performance industry for twenty years. She began her career as a Stage Manager & Company Manger freelancing for companies and festivals around Queensland & Australia. She was Deputy Stage Manager for Opera Queensland 2003 – 2008 before taking on Company/Stage Manager at Queensland Ballet 2009-2012.  Since then Tanya has moved into production coordinator roles and currently works part time as a Tour Producer with arTour working with multiple companies to tour regionally & nationally. Tanya’s skills sits somewhere between the technical and creative world and she continues to strive for excellence in everything she does. In between her busy schedule she continues to freelance choosing rewarding gigs, which align with her desire to pass on her skills to future generations.

Terri Robinson
Terri began her career as a Lighting Designer and technician for theatre, before moving into film production where she split her time between the set as a Script Supervisor and the production office as a Coordinator.  After the completion of “The Railway Man” in 2012, the opportunity arose for Terri to move into a travel management roll specialising in film and television production, touring for bands, theatre and dance companies and sporting groups.  Since then Terri has managed the travel requirements for thousands of productions including some truly weird and wonderful requests. 

Conversation 2

Laura Bonner
Laura Bonner is currently the manager for Queensland Music Festival’s Youth Touring program (previously known as Queensland Arts Council).  Youth Touring travel state-wide to provide quality arts in education performance and workshop incursions to primary and secondary schools.  Previously a high school drama and dance teacher, Laura is passionate about arts accessibility and an advocate for arts in education. She is also a committee member for Drama Queensland.

Lizzie Moore
Lizzie Moore is the part-time Touring Administrator for Youth Touring at QMF, responsible for touring logistics, itinerary planning and production of in-house shows. She also worked under the previous banner of Artslink/Queensland Arts Council. Lizzie’s other work is as a singer and actor, having performed in New York, London and Australia wide; and a producer of cabaret, musical theatre, and physical theatre. She has toured her own work Australia wide with her company Charming Rebel and in partnership with larger production.

Conversation 3

For over a decade, BlakDance has consistently delivered generative and transformative sector events and advocates for the development of the small to medium Indigenous dance sector. BlakDance prioritises independent artists and emerging small to medium companies. BlakDance works nationally and has a dedicated multiyear program providing managing and producing artist and presenter services and sector advocacy. BlakDance designs, produces and delivers; Dana Waranara, National Indigenous Dance Forum, BlakDance Presenter Series, Producer Development Program, First Nations Dialogues New York, Global First Nations Exchange and BlakDance Residency Program.

Conversation 4

Musica Viva
Musica Viva is the largest presenter of chamber music in the world, a truly national company with offices in every Australian state and territory, reaching approximately 360,000 people directly every year. Their story began in 1945 as a chamber music organisation focused on just one ensemble. Over the years we have evolved to embrace ensemble music of all styles and genres, presenting leading Australian and international artists to concert audiences and school students across the country. Today, Musica Viva’s activities embrace digital technologies to reach an even wider audience, and they are at the forefront of artist development – inspiring musicians and audiences alike in a shared passion for ensemble music of quality, diversity, challenge and joy.

Conversation 5

Matt Seery
Matt Seery is the Associate Producer at Metro Arts. Matt also works as a freelance director, producer and production/stage manager of theatre, events and festivals. Matt has worked with numerous independent companies including Counterpilot, Dead Puppet Society and Imaginary Theatre and has held positions with Punchdrunk Enrichment (UK),  La Boite Theatre Company, Queensland Theatre, Brisbane Festival, Supercell Dance Festival, Oktoberfest Brisbane and World Science Festival Brisbane.

Nathan Sidthorpe
Nathan Sibthorpe is an award-winning contemporary performance-maker and AV Designer. He was previously Queensland Theatre Company’s Geek-In-Residence in 2012-14; the Festival Director for Short+Sweet Queensland from 2013-16; and an Australia Council JUMP artist in 2012. Nathan is currently the Director of Counterpilot, a transmedia performance collective based in Brisbane. Nathan has been nominated for eight Matilda Awards, receiving the award for Best AV Design in 2017 (Blue Bones) and the Lord Mayor’s Award for Best New Australian Work in 2018 (Crunch Time). In 2011 he received a Green Room Groundling Award and in 2017 he was the recipient of the Dr Don Batchelor Award for Drama Research at QUT.  Nathan teaches performance studies at QUT, where he holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts with distinction, and a Masters Degree in contemporary performance.

Conversation 6

Alicia Cush
Alicia Cush is a Brisbane-based performer, musical director and independent producer. Currently, Alicia is the Artistic Director of Little Match Productions, directing and performing with Babushka and Belladiva. These ensembles have performed at many prestigious events, including Brisbane Festival and Queensland Cabaret Festival. She has been a Circa performer, part of the Opera Q ensemble. Recently, 2high Festival Producer, toured internationally with Circa’s Il Ritorno and was an artist-in-residence at the Judith Wright Centre.  Alicia’s company will tour The Owl & the Pussycat nationally in 2020.

Conversation 7

Circa Contemporary Circus is one of the world’s leading performance companies.  Since 2004, from their base in Brisbane, Australia, Circa have toured the world – performing in 40 countries to over a million people. Circa’s works have been greeted with standing ovations, rave reviews and sold-out houses across six continents. Circa is at the forefront of the new wave of contemporary Australian circus – pioneering how extreme physicality can create powerful and moving performances. Circa continues to push the boundaries of the art form, blurring the lines between movement, dance, theatre and circus, and leading the way with a diverse range of thrilling creations that ‘redraw the limits to which circus can aspire” (The Age).

Conversation 8

Erika Jayne Goldsmith
Erika is a performing artist, producer and cultural community development practitioner based in Brisbane.  She has experience as a performer and teacher across a diverse range of cultural and contemporary dance forms. She runs Bring A Plate – Inclusive Dance Company and is a Dance/Movement Therapist in training. Her work is predominantly with at-risk youth and CALD communities.  She is the director of Kinetic Collective - Arts for International Development NGO that develops creative approaches to challenging social and environmental issues with communities around the world. Erika is now the Dance Development Officer at Ausdance QLD and is on a mission to get Queensland dancing!

Elizabeth Old
Elizabeth Old has had an outstanding career as a dancer, dance mentor and artistic leader. She began as a dancer at Australian Dance Theatre and then joined Rambert in London where she danced until 2001 with Britain’s leading contemporary dance company. She danced in over 30 countries, often in leading roles with renowned choreographers. She was winner of the Dance Europe Critic’s Choice award in 2001.  As Associate Artistic Director of Australian Dance Theatre for a decade she significantly expanded the company’s sphere of activities and founded The ADT Youth Ensemble and established an extensive audience development and education program.  Elizabeth is currently a PhD candidate at Deakin University and joined the faculty of the school of creative industries at Queensland University of Technology in March 2018.

Conversation 9

Katherine Quigley

Katherine Quigley is the Chief Executive Officer and Artistic Director of Backbone Youth Arts. A scholarship recipient and graduate of NIDA’s inaugural cohort, Masters of Fine Arts in Cultural Leadership Katherine specialises in producing collaborative, experimental multi-arts and cultural experiences. Her career spans 15 years as a producer of multi-arts festivals, events, exhibitions, theatre and circus working for; Maerz Muzik Berlin, Queensland Music Festival, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, State Library of Queensland, Artworkers Alliance, The Danger Ensemble, Company 2, Flipside Circus, Youth Arts Queensland, Straight Out of Brisbane (SOOB), Contact Inc, Black Drum Productions, Ausdance Queensland, Vibewire, Backbone’s 2high Festival, Lucks, Lightbox Studio and Artslink. 

One-on-One Conversation Hosts


Paul Gurney
Paul studied Arts Management at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts and has held leadership roles with some of Australia’s most innovative small to medium arts organisations, including Next Wave and Open House Melbourne. In these roles, Paul helped establish strategies across business development, philanthropic relationships and private partnerships, all to make great art happen.


arTour is Queensland's centre of contemporary touring knowledge. arTour supports performing artists and producers to tour work through regional Queensland and nationally. arTour also assists Queensland presenters to program performance work for their local audiences. arTour is managed by Circa and supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland.


Flying Arts
Flying Arts is an arts and cultural development organisation which has been delivering visual arts projects and services to regional and remote Queensland since 1971. The Association has played a significant role in inspiring artists and communities, as well as helping to overcome the impacts of regional isolation and remote living. Flying Arts embraces a spirit of adventure to inspire the appreciation, practice and professional development of the visual arts as a lifetime interest or career aspiration, and a creative life for all Queenslanders.


Toma Dim
Toma Dim cut her theatrical teeth making and marketing shows on a shoestring at Battersea Arts Centre in London, back in the time before social media.  What followed was a heady career in arts administration: managing tours, and running organisations and venues while maintaining a life-long commitment to providing arts opportunities for young people.  She returned to Australia to run the Schools Touring Program at Artslink/QMF.  Since joining Arts Queensland in 2017 she has worked across the investment portfolio and now manages the Playing Queensland Fund.