On the Couch with Jo Thomas

Arts Review On the Couch Jo Thomas Metro Arts Who is Jo Thomas?
Performance-maker, creative producer and Executive Producer of Metro Arts in Brisbane; martial artist, lover of all things song & dance, a Churchill Fellow and member of the Asian Producers Platform.

What would you do differently to what you do now?
Never, ever write another funding application again in my life!

Who inspires you and why?
Fiona Hawthorne is the President of the Churchill Fellows Association here in Queensland and I find her endlessly inspiring. She’s a powerhouse woman, intelligent and with a wicked sense of humour. She is working with me on the DeathFest micro-festival late in 2016 as we examine issues of mortality and grieving through an arts and culture festival. She’s also on the Committee for Hummingbird House, Queensland’s only hospice dedicated to children and their families.

What would you do to make a difference in the world?
Big picture dreaming… I would ban mobile phones at all restaurants, coffee shops and art galleries; make it compulsory for an artist to advise Parliament; support a compassionate response to asylum seekers internationally; and have more diversity on our national stages and screens – let’s represent who we really are as a nation!

Favourite holiday destination and why?
Barcelona – the food, the people, the art, the energy.

When friends come to town, what attraction would you take them to, and why?
A walk along the river (always), GOMA (always – I love the architecture and the programming) and I would bring them to Metro Arts so they can traipse up the 96 stairs in our heritage-listed building!

What are you currently reading?
In a movie I heard a reference to the sci-fi writer Ursula K Le Guin and thought I’d investigate her.  I’ve now become a bit obsessed with the Earthsea books and am onto the 6th one.  Very light reading full of dragons and adventure, and I’m pleased to say in these later books the strength and wisdom of women is being recognised.

What are you currently listening to?
I’ve just been introduced to some Taiwanese sound artists/musicians whilst visiting Taipei so I’m enjoying that at the moment – particularly Yen-Ting Hsu and Jipo Yang.

Happiness is?
Sleeping through the night. Bliss!

What does the future hold for you?
I’m really excited to watch some of our new programming at Metro Arts roll out… particularly the micro-festivals throughout the year (Sonic State will be amazing!) and a whole new bunch of artists-in-residence.  We’re also welcoming an artist-run-initiative (FAKE estate) back into the building so Metro Arts is going to be pumping with artists and creativity 24/7 in 2016!

Jo Thomas has been a performance-maker and creative producer both in the independent sector and for medium and large-scale Australian arts organisations and Festivals.  Her love and commitment is to contemporary performing arts, and particularly working in the grass-roots with independent artists.  For many years she was a jobbing actor in film, TV and theatre and occasionally still performs.

As a Producer she has worked on projects for Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, Brisbane’s contemporary circus company CIRCA, Brisbane Festival, Queensland Music Festival, Bleach* Festival, Actors Centre Australia, Empire Theatres Toowoomba and as an independent.

Jo was a 2012 recipient of the prestigious Churchill Fellowship; and one of only 5 Australian producers selected for the Asian Producer Platform (APP) – a 4-year initiative connecting producers from across Asia.  With APP she has travelled to Korea and Taiwan and will head to Japan in 2016.

Jo is currently Executive Producer at Metro Arts overseeing all programming in both exhibition and performance and producing some of the company’s key projects. Metro Arts has just revealed their 2016 program. For more information, visit: www.metroarts.com.au for details.

Image: Jo Thomas