In four short years, Criena Gehrke has already left an indelible mark on the Gold Coast cultural scene as the Executive Co-ordinator of Art and Culture and author of the Culture 2023 strategy for the City of Gold Coast. As the newly appointed CEO/Director of The Arts Centre Gold Coast and Gold Coast Cultural Precinct, she's leading our cultural transformation powered by imagination and a fierce belief in our community.
You came to the Gold Coast from Melbourne for a 9-month contract, what is it about the culture of the Gold Coast that excites you?
I quickly realised by working with our Gold Coast artists and artistic companies that they reflect the great confidence and independence of our city. The artists capture our positive energy and vitality through their work. I’m delighted many are now recognised nationally and internationally for their effort and productions. Fundamentally, I believe arts and culture are the fabric of our community. I’m excited by the diversity and abundance of collaborative artistic opportunities on the Gold Coast.
The Gold Coast Cultural Precinct has ambitions to become the heartland of the Gold Coast, how will this be achieved?
We will showcase the best of Gold Coast art and culture with a great mix of national, international artists and experiences. Much of the program in 2018 will be staged in our new great outdoor location, around the lake, the future art scape and new Versatile Outdoor Space. An exciting program of experiences and activities will feature local Gold Coast artists, creating great artwork that responds to our environment and lifestyle. We hope to create real connections and to be the place where we celebrate our Gold Coast stories, artists and communities, making it a place where residents and visitors naturally come together.”
The new Gold Coast Tourism campaign ‘We are Destination Gold Coast’ is a rally cry, how will the Precinct capitalise on this?
The starting point is that the Cultural Precinct is a place loved by the local community; it’s where we feel at home and can be ourselves. This will naturally bring visitors to share our community and our lifestyle. We want people to come and be themselves – be it in their boardies, festival dresses, or all dressed up for a night out, whatever makes them happy.
We’re fortunate also to be located at a beautiful central parkland in close proximity to Surfers Paradise and Chevron Island. The City’s iconic skyline provides a majestic backdrop and will play a big future role in our visitor experience as the new Versatile Outdoor Stage comes to life later this year. It’s our hope for the future, that this will be a place where people from all over come together, to share great times, share stories, create memories and see great art. It’s where we will choose to be.”
With a look to the future, showing the change and relevance of activity to come, the recent Gold Coast City Gallery ‘Signs of the Time’ Street Art Program and Exhibition featured artwork outside the traditional gallery environment with the Shedload of Art Street Art commission leaving a bright footprint outdoors and reaching new audiences for The Arts Centre Gold Coast.