Artistic & Executive Director
Kris Stewart is a creative industries executive and artistic leader whose work has been seen through the US, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
He has had great success as a producer and director taking organizations through periods of change or growth, and in launching new initiatives, such as the founding of a number of key festivals and major events.
Earlier Asst. to Artistic Director at Melbourne Theatre Company; Creative Director at Jacobsen Corp; Director of the Lygon Street Festa, Geelong Waterfront Festival, the Williamstown Festival, the LIVE Youth Festival, VIVA Cultural Diversity Festival, others
Artistic Director - BRISBANE POWERHOUSE
Since 2013, Kris has been Artistic Director of Brisbane Powerhouse, Queensland’s home for contemporary culture, a magnificent power station of the 1920s reborn as an arts centre on the Brisbane River.Kris directs a a year-round program featuring events across music, comedy, writers + ideas, dance, film, visual arts, digital arts, theatre and music theatre.
Kris is programming two main stage theatres seating up to 740 and 200 people respectively, and three additional venues that seat 80–180. Brisbane Powerhouse features gallery spaces, two restaurants and bars, corporate facilities and the best river view in Brisbane.
Kris oversees all activity and cultural content that happens in the precinct, which means 350+ shows and more than 1200 performances a year.
Some Brisbane Powerhouse results
Brisbane Powerhouse is the home for living art, ideas and experiences, representing the personality of contemporary Brisbane. Audiences and artists intersect at our heart.
Kris has established a clear set of cultural priorities for the venue, and the results have been clear:
ticketed performances annually
free performances annually
corporate and stakeholder events
patrons visiting 4+ times a year
new & emerging artists
MEDIA COVERAGE - BRISBANE POWERHOUSE
"... the Brisbane Comedy Festival set an all-time record of 55,099 attendees, growing 23% in one year. These results are matched by MELT attendances growing more than 25% in 2017, and Wonderland festival playing to 24,980 attendees, its highest in history."
IF YOU’VE attended anything at the Brisbane Powerhouse recently you’ll have noticed what a buzz there is about the place. Remember when it was just a derelict blot on the landscape?
Boy have things changed. Along with the Southbank Cultural Complex the Brisbane Powerhouse has really added to the cultural capital of Brisbane and now we couldn’t imagine life without it. And it’s going gangbusters and has just had the greatest quarter in its 16-year history.
A foot in New Farm and a foot in New York:
There are a set of values that guide the programming and ethos behind Brisbane Powerhouse. ‘One of [the values] is about having a foot in New Farm and a foot in New York. We want to be really locally connected, while still looking globally with the kinds of things that we are able to exhibit and do,’ said artistic director Kris Stewart.
This value-focused approach has now led Brisbane Powerhouse through its best quarter in a 16-year history. How did it get here and what is the secret behind this success?
Truly a Powerhouse.
By focusing on the ‘Brisbane’ in Brisbane Powerhouse, the unique arts centre has smashed records in ticket sales, attendances and engagement with local creatives.
Brisbane powerhouse media
Here is a cross-section of some print media articles on Kris Stewart and his work at Brisbane Powerhouse.
Plus some articles Kris has written:
ArtsHub: Digital Natives and Arts Centres
How do you solve a problem like Queensland?
Interview 1 - ABC Radio National
Interview 2 - ABC Brisbane 21st Birthday tour of Brisbane Powerhouse
LIGHTS ON - Reopening after COVID-19
One of the key moments of my career was reopening Brisbane Powerhouse post-COVID19.
LIGHTS ON - Brisbane Powerhouse reopens
After being closed for more than 130 days, Brisbane Powerhouse was one of the first venues in the world to reopen, with a curated series of iconic Brisbane companies: Circa, Queensland Ballet, Briefs Factory, Q Music and the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. This is that story.
Queensland performing artists get back on stage
Lights are on but things are still getting intimate at Powerhouse
Love conquers all as Qld Ballet tip-toes its way back to live performance
In 2019, Kris is the inaugural Guest Director of this new major event
Innovation, Imagination, Invention
Brisbane's new 2019 event merging tech, innovation, science & arts.
Curiocity Brisbane is a citywide festival for explorers, inventors and creators. It will spark the imagination and inspire people to explore the city and engage with its creativity, rather than observe.
'Curious' new event links art and science across Brisbane - BRISBANE TIMES
Festivals and Events
Kris is arguably one of the most experienced festival and major event creators in the world, with events in numerous countries and regions.
Some highlights of his career include:
New York Musical Theatre Festival
2004 - 2008
As founder and Executive Director of the New York Musical Theatre Festival (www.nymf.org), Kris Stewart oversaw 1197 performances of 133 new musicals that he commissioned, developed and/or produced, as well as 349 other events, 20 venues each year running full-time, and more than 1000 artists, creators and staff working across the event.
“Having a show in the New York Musical Theatre Festival is equivalent to getting an independent film into Sundance.” – Rob Kendt, Newsday
The Sydney Fringe
2010, 2011 & 2013
As the inaugural Artistic Director of The Sydney Fringe, Kris programmed 3000 artists in 700+ performances of more than 250 shows and events in 53 inner city venues, events that were seen by over 100,000 attendees.
Commissioned by the City of Sydney to create the event, the first year of the Fringe included 76 theatre works, 59 music acts, 30 musicals, 25 visual arts exhibitions, 16 comedies, 13 digital arts pieces, 11 burlesque or circus and 8 dance productions.
2014 - 2019
Wonderland is Brisbane’s end-of-year summer party, a carnival of surprise and delight that transforms Brisbane Powerhouse into a night-time playground as carny folk, circus and street performers, singers, comedians and cabaret stars fill a series on venues, both inside the building and out.
2015 - 2019
Kris founded Melt in 2015 to be Brisbane's signature annual event celebrating LGBTIQ culture.
Sitting alongside Mardi Gras (Sydney) and Midsumma (Melbourne), Melt featured artists across a range of disciplines, inlcuding theatre, dance, music, visual arts and film (the Brisbane Queer Film Festival).
The inaugural IRL Digital Festival was presented in May 2015 to more than 20,000 visitors, transforming this iconic building into a pop-up digital playground, where audiences of young and old were able to immerse themselves in interactive digital art, technology-based performance, retro gaming culture and the latest in virtual reality and transmedia content.
The Festival of Voices
2010 - 2012
The Festival of Voices is Australia’s premier festival celebrating the vocalist and the power of song, showcasing a range of artistic disciplines, including choir and ensemble singing, spoken word, cabaret, debate, poetry, storytelling and hiphop.
Kris was hired by Events Tasmania to run the festival in 2011, and oversaw a 54% increase in ticket sales, with 90% of performances playing to capacity.
2014 & 2016
Running over 11 days in February, WTF is Brisbane Powerhouse’s iconic global contemporary performance event where culture and spectacle collide.
Featuring works that challenge the traditional definitions of theatre, World Theatre Festival brings together a worldly ensemble of irreverent, iconoclastic performance artists and runs alongside the Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM) in 2016 and 2018.
2014, 2016 & 2018
The Australian Performing Arts Market (APAM) is Australia’s leading, internationally focused industry event for contemporary performing arts, and has been produced by Brisbane Powerhouse since 2014.
APAM offers Australian and New Zealand performing artists and companies full performances, excerpt and pitch sessions, in front of national and international presenters, agents and influencers.
Queensland Cabaret Festival
2014 - 2016
Produced by Brisbane Powerhouse, the Queensland Cabaret Festival is a multivenue event, happening across the major Brisbane venues and key regional centres.
It partners with significant international festivals in the region to tour the best cabaret and music acts in the world
Brisbane Comedy Festival
The biggest selling festival in Queensland, the Brisbane Comedy Festival is a big populist event across all of the powerhouse venues.
Dozens of comics are featured across a calendar month, and it fits beautifully into Australia's autumn comedy season.
Print articles on some of Kris work on festivals
Festival of Voices
Griffith University Occasional Speech
Kris giving the occasional speech to the Arts and Law students graduating from Griffith University.
Personal CAREER NARRATIVE
Kris has directed and produced a number of projects, both in the commercial and non-profit spheres. They include:
Available on Amazon
Kris founded Red Sand Media Partners, where he produced with his partners feature film Red Hook, a teen thriller distributed by Phase 4 Films. Set in the streets on NYC, Red Hook is about a college scavenger hunt where one of the participants is setting new rules.
[Title of Show]: a new musical
On Broadway, at the Lyceum Theater
On Broadway, RSMP produced the TONY nominated and Obie and Drama Desk award winning musical [title of show]. [title of show] is a musical about two nobodies named Hunter and Jeff who decide to write a completely original musical - and the show is from that moment until the night the audiencve is there with them.
New Musicals Australia
2011/12 - an initiative of the Australia Council
Now based at the Hayes Theatre, Kris was the founder and inaugural director of New Musicals Australia, an initiative dedicated to the production of original music theatre in Australia. It focussed on providing writers and composers with the opportunity to have their scripts and songs workshopped by professionals and presented to industry peers.
2014 to 2016
Sweet is annual hand-curated premiering seasons of independent performance that Kris produces and presents at Brisbane Powerhouse, identifying the best of emerging independent companies and giving them the opportunity to have their work supported and seen by a wider arts audience.
Kris has directed more than 60 productions across his career, with a focus on new work and music theatre. Here are some links to production photos.
Brisbane Powerhouse, 2019
Melt Festival, 2018
JOH FOR PM
WEST SIDE STORY
Qld Con, 2018
BOYS OF SONDHEIM
Melt Festival, 2017
KISS ME KATE
Tas Theatre Co
VOICES OF VICE
THE JOURNEY GIRL
INTO THE WOODS
Melb Theatre Co
AND THE WORLD GOES ROUND
Chapel off Chapel
LIFE'S A CIRCUS
HOW TO SUCCEED
The Production Company
Notable service and Awards
2020 – current: PAC Australia Board; peak industry body for Live Performance venues2021 – current: Stage Queensland Executive Committee; representative body for QLD venues2020 – current: Sunshine Coast Arts Advisory Board2014 – 2021: The Queensland Conservatorium Advisory Board2017 – 2020: The QUT Creative Industries Advisory Board
2012: Nominee for “Best Festival or Major Event” at Qantas Australian Tourism Awards
2010 & 2011: Two-time Australian Business and Arts Foundation (AbaF) Award Winner
2006: Jujamcyn Theatres Award for outstanding development of creative talent for the theater
2003: The Ockrent Fellowship (NYC)
2001: Gilbert Spottiswood Churchill Fellowship
2000: Sir Keith Murdoch Prize for Leadership and Innovation
2012: Australia Council Emerging Leaders Development Program
2007: New York Commercial Theatre Institute (www.livebroadway.com), Weisenfeld Scholar
2003: The Lincoln Center Directors Lab
1994 – 1995: West Australian Academy of Performing Arts. Grad Dip (Arts - directing).
2015 - 2017: Australia Council and Australian Department for the Arts
2014 - 2018: Arts Queensland and Australian Performing Arts Market
2007 & 2008: The Macarthur Fellowship judging committees
2010: The Victorian Premier’s Literary Prize
2013 - 2019: The Helpmann Awards (theatre, cabaret and comedy panels)
International Exchanges and Showcases
2019: International Arts Exchange (Dublin Theatre Festival, Ireland)
2015 – 2019: The British Council Showcase (Edinburgh)
2014 – 2016: PAMS (South Korea)
2016 – 2018: Shanghai International Arts Fair (China)
2018: Luminato (Canada)
2017: CINARS (Canada)
2017: National Arts Council showcase (Singapore)
2016: Under the Radar and the Assoc of Performing Arts Presenters conference (USA)
2016: Taiwan Focus
2015: Performing Arts Assoc NZ showcase (New Zealand),
2001 – 2007: National Alliance for Musical Theatre Conference
Educator CGO Institute, Australia Institute of Music, WAAPA, the NYU/Tisch School of Drama, Griffth University, QUT, Federation University, Monash University, and others.
Keynote Speaker Live Performance Australia, UK Music Theatre Conference, NYU/Tisch, PAANZ, American Theatre Wing, League of American Theatres and Producers, Stage Queensland, and others.
This is direct to Kris' personal email, so shoot him a note!
Copyright 2018. Thanks for coming by!