Brisbane Arts Theatre Welcomes New Artistic Director

BAT’s new Artistic Director is inspired by a love of theatre, and a departed friend.

Brisbane actor and director, Ron Kelly, has been appointed Artistic Director for the Brisbane Arts Theatre, ahead of its 2013 season.

A stalwart of Brisbane’s theatre scene, and with experience in film and television, Ron brings a renewed sense of energy to Brisbane’s longest-running community theatre.

“This place is the lifeblood of our city’s theatrical community,” said Ron. “There’s a line of great theatrical institutions from QUT and La Boite at Kelvin Grove, to QTC and QPAC at Southbank. The BAT sits right in the middle of that line in Petrie Terrace. We’re a vital part of this city’s cultural heart, and I want to promote that.”

Ron also cites dedicated BAT member Jo Peirce – who passed away in 2011 – as another inspiration. “She died while I was touring overseas,” Ron says. “I’d had to turn down an opportunity to work with her in the last play she directed, and that regret has stayed with me. The memory of Jo inspired me to re-examine the role community theatre has played in my life and to look closer into the Arts Theatre that Jo loved so much. She believed wholeheartedly in the healing, transformative power of theatre, and I want to pay tribute to that.”

‘Since 1936, the Arts has been a place where ordinary people can live out a dream, confront fears, overcome personal barriers and express themselves in ways they can’t in their everyday lives. Literally thousands of people’s lives have been changed and enhanced by their involvement with the theatre. We need to remove the negative stigma from amateur and community theatre. Amateur essentially means ‘for the love of’. Community theatre is theatre by the community, for the community. I don’t see the problem. I’m here to inject my own energy into the theatre and ensure the productions we mount are of the highest possible quality and that those who step upon our stage are given guidance and help with building skills, not only for the stage, but skills that can be used in the normal course of their day. That’s exciting and worth celebrating.

Ron says his plans for 2013 include giving those passionate members more development and opportunities to refine their craft, with guest directors and performers. “I’m also investigating a number of partnerships with other theatre companies and educational institutions that will see more cross-pollination of talent,” he said. “The BAT is a great working theatre – you’re going to see it work a lot more!”

Outgoing Artistic Director John Boyce has welcomed his successor, and believes that “Brisbane Arts Theatre has been providing the people of Brisbane with affordable, quality live entertainment since 1936, and we’re on a good path,” he said. “It will be great to see Ron come in with his own ideas to inspire and energise our community, and engage with the broader arts landscape in Brisbane.”

Ron Kelly


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