Artistic & Executive Director
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR - BRISBANE POWERHOUSE
From 2013 to 2021, Kris was Artistic Director of Brisbane Powerhouse, Queensland’s home for living art, ideas and experiences, a magnificent power station of the 1920s reborn as an arts centre on the Brisbane River.Kris directed a year-round program featuring events across music, comedy, writers + ideas, dance, film, visual arts, digital arts, theatre and music theatre.
Here, he sold more than a million tickets for 2,500 shows across two main stage theatres, three additional blackbox venues and two galleries.
With over 650,000 visitors a year, Kris established a clear set of cultural priorities for the venue, with tremendous results:
At Brisbane Powerhouse, Kris presented more than 275 world premieres, including those by cultural partners such as Queensland Ballet, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Camerata, Opera Queensland, Circa, Dance North, La Boite, Topology, The Australian Voices, The Good Room, JUTE Theatre, Playlab, and Polytoxic.
He launched a series of significant events at Brisbane Powerhouse, including WONDERLAND, Brisbane’s festival of circus, sideshow and spectacle; MELT, Queensland’s signature major event celebrating LGBTQI+ culture and creators; the inaugural Queensland Cabaret Festival; and IRL Digital Festival, a new event celebrating the convergence between live arts and digital and gaming culture.
Kris’ Writers and Ideas program saw more than 38,000 people have come to see one of the 180 performances of thought leaders in conversation, including Eric Idle, Yotam Ottolenghi, Mark Manson, Jennifer Saunders, Ben Folds, Gloria Steinem, Johnathan Franzen, John Waters, Susan Faludi and Mei Fong. The new program Powerkids: Little Artists at Play, a weekly free program for children under five, delivered 164 workshops to 54,170 children and their carers.
Kris also continued the legacy of significant existing events at Brisbane Powerhouse, such as the Brisbane Comedy Festival (which grew 40% under his direction, from 44,447 attendees to a record of 62,278), and hosting the Australian Performing Arts Market (the premier biennial industry event in the Asia Pacific region), World Theatre Festival, World Press Photo and Brisbane Portrait Prize.
BRISBANE POWERHOUSE media
Have a taste of Kris' time as Artistic Director
In partnership with local filmmakers PixelFrame, we created a video that illustrates the unique experience offered at Brisbane Powerhouse, and the brilliant personality of the building and its art.
A Digital Experience
In partnership with Nick Did This, we undertook a digital transformation of our communications, reimaging how we tell the story of Brisbane Powerhouse to the world.
A snapshot of media coverage from Kris' eight years at Brisbane Powerhouse
In Kris final year at Brisbane Powerhouse, he led the organization's 21st birthday celebrations.
Here is an ABC Brisbane interview around the buildings history, plus other articles:
LEADING A VENUE THROUGH COVID-19
At Brisbane Powerhouse, Kris led the organization through an unprecedented closure - and then its reopening following COVID-19.
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.
Currently, Kris is the Chief Executive Officer of QMUSIC, and the producer of Australia's largest music industry event BIGSOUND, as well as the Qld Music Awards, Valley Fiesta and Tropic Fiesta, amongst other things.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER - QMUSIC
As Chief Executive Officer of QMusic, the peak body for Queensland's music sector, Kris leads the state-wide representative voice for Queensland’s musicians, music workers, live music venues and fans.
At BIGSOUND, Kris welcomes national and international delegates to the largest music industry event in the Southern Hemisphere - a multivenue daytime conference that evolves into an evening showcase festival featuring 184 bands across 23 stages.
A record event was produced for the first time in three years, following COVID cancellations: THE ABC
From household names Keith Urban, Amy Shark and Sheppard to emerging artists like Jaguar Jonze, Jesswar and Hope D, the Queensland Music Awards is an annual celebration of the state's best music produced by QMusic, that culminates in an Award ceremony at the Fortitude Music Hall.
Australia's greatest music precinct is celebrated annually with a massive festival of contemporary music
Launched in 2021, Concert Care is QMusic's key program for industry safety and behavior change
A re-launch of Brisbane's music scene post-COVID, BSBP was a RISE-funded multivenue major event
MEDIA COVERAGE - QMUSIC
Media coverage from Kris' beginnings at QMusic
interview - ABC RADIO NATIONAL
As CEO of QMusic, Kris is asked about what's in his feed this week - what are people talking about in the music industry?
creative director - curiocity
In 2019, Kris is the inaugural Guest Director of Brisbane's new major event, Curiocity.
The intersection of technology and creativity has long been a key factor in his artistic practice.
Artshub article: For Digital Natives, the Foyer is the point
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
CEO & FESTIVAL DIRECTOR - FESTIVALS & MAJOR 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
Writings & INTERVIEWS
Some personal media coverage and writing
interview - ABC RADIO
Griffith University Occasional Speech
Kris giving the occasional speech to the Arts and Law students graduating from Griffith University.
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
This is direct to Kris' personal email, so shoot him a note!
by Richard Watts
Brisbane Powerhouse is on a roll.
For the third consecutive year, Brisbane’s centre for contemporary arts – a former power station constructed in 1928, in the riverside suburb of New Farm – has smashed records, with overall ticket sales hitting the 171,314 mark; an 11% increase on the previous year.
Box office revenue has also increased, reaching $6.2 million in the 2017/18 financial year, up from $5.4 million in 2016/17, an increase of 14%.
Artistic Director Kris Stewart credits a focus on connecting Brisbane artists with Brisbane audiences as a key factor in Brisbane Powerhouse’s success.
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?
Ticketed Performances annually
Free Performances annually
Patrons visiting 4+ times a year
Kris has directed 40+ shows across his career, with a focus on new work development and contemporary music theatre.
jesus christ superstar
Kris has directed multiple large scale musicals, including this version of JCS set in 2015 Los Angeles
the trocadero trilogy
This trilogy of environmental swing musicals premiered at the Sydney Festival
Directed for Opera Queensland, this was a classic staging of the musical with the full sound of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra
into the woods
Kris has specialised in the works of Stephen Sondheim, including a number of productions of Into The Woods (such as this, with the cast of Wicked)
charity work & CONCERTS
Kris' concert work has included a number of gala, opening and fundraiser events, including this for the Rob Guest Foundation
RESIDENT DIRECTION AND EDUCATION
Kris has worked in training institutions across the globe, and has acted as associate director on many commercial works, such as WICKED
Copyright 2018. Thanks for coming by!