Meet Rod Ainsworth
Queensland Theatre recently welcomed Rod Ainsworth to the Company as Director of Programming.
Rod returned to Brisbane after working as Manager, Arts & Cultural Services with the Bundaberg Regional Council. There, he was managing the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre, two regional galleries, a First Nations Cultural Development program, community arts program and the Regional Arts Development Fund.
He was a co-founder of not-for-profit production company Creative Regions Limited and chaired the steering committee that led to the establishment of the Regional Arts Services Network. Rod also currently serves as Vice President of Stage Queensland.
Queensland Theatre Artistic Director Lee Lewis noted that “Rod has such vast experience as a creative producer and theatre maker, especially with his work in regional Queensland, and we are excited to add his passion, expertise and leadership to our Programming team”.
So, let’s get to know a little more about Rod!
What do you love about working in the performing arts?
I get bored easily. The performing arts is the only thing that has ever engaged my brain in a way that keeps it firing as it should. Every day is about learning something new and about new challenges. I love the creative and logistical challenges that this industry brings. Everything from the idea to the implementation of a theatre production, particularly, is a positive, joyful challenge. There’s no time for second rate or taking your eye off the game in this industry. You’ve got to be on — always!
What was your pathway into this industry?
I started learning a musical instrument (the flute) at school. My grandfather and my great grandfather also played. I never met my great grandfather but he was a professional musician in Melbourne in his day. When my Grade 3 teacher said, “do you want to play an instrument?” I told them I wanted to play the flute, then went home and told my parents what was happening. I spent all my time at school in bands and orchestras, playing for the school musicals, etc. I’d never considered working in theatre until I was in my first year of uni and enrolled in a course out of hours with Hilary Beaton (through the then Australian National Playwrights’ Centre). Hilary made it her business to introduce us to the world of theatre beyond the words – to the people and the stages that made it happen in Brisbane – and I was hooked. I finished uni, became a secondary teacher (English/Drama) for a while, then worked in regional arts development and producing new work in regional Australia for a long time. It’s great to be back in Brisbane!!
What is a memorable moment from your previous position in Bundaberg?
In my five years as Manager, Arts & Cultural Services, the thing I’m most proud of was the establishment of Council’s first Indigenous Identified Cultural Development Officer position. This came about after Council signed the Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Traditional Owners. I’m super proud that this position was generated through, and driven by, the Arts & Culture team and one which has enabled a First Nations lens to be placed across the whole of Council to look for opportunities for better engagement and partnership with the community. It came about after the establishment of a new festival, the Milbi Festival, which celebrates the beginning of the turtle breeding season with a core philosophy of presenting contemporary First Nations cultures.
The Festival is designed to show the power of the turtles; these extraordinary animals who return to the shores of the Bundaberg Region every year for their entire lives. It’s an example of how engagement in the arts can directly influence policy and organisational development.
What’s something important you learnt in your early career?
Don’t assume anything. I’ve learned it, I know it, it’s ingrained in me, but I still do it occasionally and kick myself when I do. I work best when all information is on the table. There’ll always be surprises, of course. Something’s got to keep you on the edge of your seat!
What makes you most excited about joining Queensland Theatre?
It’s great to be back in the producing world and to be taking on the programming and producing of work of a larger scale. It’s a great challenge and every day is about learning something new. See above! I worked as a volunteer backstage tour guide at Queensland Theatre while I was at uni and have spent a bit of time on advisory groups and so on for the Company over the years. It’s great to be working inside the state theatre company and being a part of Brisbane's theatre and performing arts world again.
What’s one random fact about you?
My idea of hell (if there is such a thing) is a room full of spiders and flat pack. I have a morbid fear of both! Eight legs and IKEA send me into an apoplexy!!