Queensland Theatre welcomes Criena Gehrke as Executive Director

AAR-Queensland-Theatre-Criena-GehrkeQueensland Theatre Chair, Elizabeth Jameson AM has announced the appointment of Criena Gehrke as Queensland Theatre’s new Executive Director. A Queensland local, Criena brings a deep commitment to the arts in Queensland and significant experience to the leadership at Queensland Theatre.

Criena Gehrke joins with an extensive background in the arts industry having dedicated her career fostering creativity and championing artists and the arts. Her appointment follows a thorough selection process that recognised her exceptional skills in leadership, strategy and advocacy within the Queensland arts community.

“The Board is delighted to bring Criena to Queensland Theatre,” said Ms Jameson. “Criena lights up the room with her passion for putting artists at the centre of, and shaping, Queensland’s cultural landscape as Queensland heads for the 2032 Brisbane Olympics and Paralympic Games.”

“The proof of all of that is her exceptional achievement as inaugural CEO of HOTA on the Gold Coast. We look forward to Criena bringing to the theatre, her trademark passion for artist-centred growth, working with Artistic Director, Lee Lewis, to continue to grow our audiences and extend our reach across Queensland and Australia,” said Ms Jameson.

In addition to her strategy expertise, Criena has a strong focus on community and audience engagement and creating professional pathways for artists. She was integral in developing and delivering programs and strategies that leveraged the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games to create legacy outcomes for Gold Coast and South-East Queensland artists, including Bleach Festival.

Under Criena’s leadership, HOTA was nationally recognised for its innovative artist development programs such as ArtKeeper (providing a living wage to independent artists), and now attracts over 650,000 visitors each year.

Criena’s unwavering commitment to inclusivity and diversity aligns with Queensland Theatre’s mission to produce thought-provoking and accessible theatre that reflects the diversity of contemporary Australia.

Most recently, she worked with Circa Contemporary Circus to support the development of Circa Cairns, a First Nations led regionally based company, and as Executive Director, Arts Access Victoria, she was instrumental in developing Australia’s only disability film festival.

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch congratulated Criena Gehrke in her appointment as Executive Director of Queensland Theatre. “Criena brings a breadth of experience to the role that will work to support Queensland Theatre’s important place as our state theatre company,” said Minister Enoch.

“As we look towards the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Queensland Theatre will play an important role in showcasing Queensland stories, arts and cultures on the world stage.”

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Amanda Jolly, as the outgoing Executive Director, for her significant contribution to the company and her leadership throughout the unprecedented challenges Queensland’s arts sector experienced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to navigating flood impacts,” said The Minister.

As the new Executive Director, Criena Gehrke will be responsible for overseeing the organisation’s strategic direction. Her expertise in managing complex operations and her deep understanding of the Queensland arts landscape make her an ideal choice for this leadership role.

“I am thrilled to be joining Queensland Theatre as Executive Director,” said Gehrke. “My love of theatre was nurtured in my formative high school years by the Queensland Theatre youth ensemble and theatre residency weeks and in my first professional job which was with this company. Queensland Theatre has a long history of excellence and I have long admired its dedication to telling stories that resonate with the people of Queensland. This is a homecoming for me.”

“I look forward to collaborating with Lee Lewis and the talented team at Queensland Theatre and working towards creating transformative experiences that engage, challenge, and inspire our audiences,” said Gehrke.

Artistic Director, Lee Lewis warmly welcomes Criena Gehrke to the role expressing their shared excitement for the future. “Criena’s appointment marks an exciting chapter for our organisation as we embark on a shared strategic vision to further elevate the arts in Queensland,” she said.

“I look forward to collaborating with Criena on supporting the Queensland government’s Path to Treaty, on laying the foundations for real creative legacies from our Olympics investment, on celebrating the talent of Queensland artists and creatives and, together, creating unforgettable theatrical experiences that captivate and inspire our audiences,” said Lewis.

Criena Gehrke assumed the role of Executive Director at Queensland Theatre on 10 July 2023. For more information, visit: www.queenslandtheatre.com.au for details.

Image: Criena Gehrke – courtesy of Queensland Theatre