Meet Paul Gurney, our State Manager in Queensland
Paul Gurney on the challenges and opportunities for Queensland's arts sector
Paul Gurney is our new State Manager in Queensland. To book a one-on-one consultation with Paul, complete our appointment form.
What attracted you to the role of Creative Partnerships State Manager, QLD?
I have 15 years’ experience in arts management and I have developed a broad range of skills that have helped to successfully deliver a wide range of projects. This role allows me to put my experience to good use; helping a sector of artists and arts organisations build capacity to achieve success.
Can you give us a bit of background on your pre-Creative Partnerships life, as well as some career highlights?
I am originally from Perth, where I studied Arts Management at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts. As part of my studies, I relocated to Melbourne in 2004 to undertake an organisational analysis of the National Gallery of Victoria, this led to a permanent role in the Gallery’s Exhibition Management team.
In 2009 I moved to an Operations Manager role at Next Wave, Australia’s leading artist development organisation, and subsequently moved to the Executive Director position in 2010. In the following years, as Co-CEO, I help increase annual financial turnover by 200%.
After three successful festivals at Next Wave I took the position as inaugural CEO at Open House Melbourne and successfully led the organisation to new levels of government and private support.
Most recently I relocated to Brisbane as Senior Manager of Brisbane City Council’s arts portfolio, where I oversaw the funding of over 120 cultural organisations and festivals, and the delivery of a year-round program of civic events.
What do you love about Queensland and its arts and cultural sector? What are some of its unique challenges and opportunities?
The arts sector in Queensland is unique; there is a vibrancy to the art that is created here that reflects the lifestyle and environment.
Queensland has produced some of Australia’s most well-regarded artists across a range of artforms and is currently experiencing significant growth, influenced by our proximity to the Asia Pacific and major events such as the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
As one of our State Managers you provide on-the-ground support to arts organisations through our coaching and mentoring service. What would you say is your #1 priority in this role?
I believe that a thriving arts sector is one that has a complex economy. There needs to be activity at all levels of the ‘food chain’. Entry and emerging level opportunities are essential to a healthy sector and my experience will help grow much needed support for artists and organisations that are either just starting out or on the cusp of taking things to the next level.
From your experience, what three qualities/characteristics does a successful, sustainable arts organisation possess?
Arts organisations need a diverse range of stakeholders. Traditional models of support for the arts in Australia have relied on government as the main source of income, this is changing.
More and more we see government funding models requiring organisation to have more self-sustaining business models. To achieve this diversity of funding, arts organisations need to innovate operations and understand and communicate their broader social impact.
If you could pass on one piece of advice to arts organisations who are looking increase the level of support they receive from the private sector, what would it be?
Listen, and welcome private sector to influence. Just like any stakeholder, the private sector has strategies, priorities and causes they seek to achieve through supporting the arts.
To build a meaningful relationship with the private sector it’s imperative that they have the opportunity to influence and take part in the activities they invest in.