Following ongoing reports of systemic bullying, discrimination, and misconduct under Handlin’s leadership at Sony Music Entertainment, Queensland's peak music industry body QMusic has revoked Handlin's 2020 Honorary Award.
QMusic, Queensland’s music industry development association, is delighted to announce Kris Stewart has been appointed CEO and will commence in the position on 14 June 2021.
Mr Stewart joins QMusic following a successful eight-year tenure as Artistic Director at Brisbane Powerhouse, Queensland’s home for contemporary culture.
He will take the helm from outgoing CEO Angela Samut who leaves QMusic after two years to pursue other challenges and spend more time with her young family.
Mr Stewart paid tribute to the legacy Ms Samut leaves of organisational strength and resilience and will work alongside her to ensure a smooth transition.
“Ange and her team did an exceptional job shepherding BIGSOUND through the turbulence of COVID to provide an excellent and relevant online program,” Mr Stewart said.
“She leaves QMusic in such a strong and well-connected place and I’m coming into an organisation that’s secure and in one of the best positions it’s held."
Mr Stewart’s artistic leadership helped cement Brisbane Powerhouse as one of Australia's busiest and most vibrant arts centres.
He oversaw 2500 productions across eight years, selling more than one million tickets, and led a 91 per cent increase in programming local artists.
Under his leadership, Brisbane Powerhouse was one of the first venues in the world to reopen post-COVID-19 and Mr Stewart’s Lights On season championed Queensland companies including QMusic, Queensland Ballet, QSO and Circa.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at Brisbane Powerhouse but my background in festivals and major events means I’ve been hungry to get my hands dirty again and events such as BIGSOUND and the Queensland Music Awards take me back to what I love,” he said.
“While QMusic is a new environment for me, its commitment to artist development, sector advocacy and supporting and promoting the incredible work that is made in Queensland feels like the perfect extension to what I’ve loved doing at Brisbane Powerhouse.”
Mr Stewart was founding director of the New York Musical Theatre Festival, Sydney Fringe, MELT: Festival of Queer Arts and Culture, Wonderland Festival and Curiocity Brisbane.
Queensland music events featured proudly at Brisbane Powerhouse under Mr Stewart’s leadership including QMF, Queensland Music Awards and The QUBE Effect as well as artists and companies from Camerata and Women in Voice to Kate Miller-Heidke and Carol Lloyd.
Brisbane Powerhouse Board Chair Valmay Hill paid tribute to Mr Stewart’s great passion for the organisation and contribution to its extraordinary audience growth over his eight years as Artistic Director.
“Kris has driven a diversity of programming featuring large-scale commercial performances, attracted leading Australian and international artists to our stage and successfully continued to champion Brisbane Powerhouse’s legacy of commissioning new works and supporting local artists,” Ms Hill said.
“Kris has also brought his great passion for creative collaborations to Brisbane Powerhouse, resulting in the growth of the organisation’s commercial hire and events business.”
A recruitment drive is underway to appoint a new CEO/Artistic Director to lead the next phase of Brisbane Powerhouse’s artistic, commercial and precinct development.
QMusic Management Committee President Natalie Strijland thanked Ms Samut for leading the organisation through the COVID-19 crisis and welcomed Mr Stewart.
“During her tenure, Angela has delivered our signature events of BIGSOUND and the Queensland Music Awards at a world-class level and has advanced the interests of artists, venues and other stakeholders with skill and compassion,” Ms Strijland said.
“We are excited to have Kris lead the team in bringing our signature events, grants and industry connect events to Queensland in 2021 and beyond. With him comes deep commercial experience in live presentation and a lifelong commitment to artists and industry development.”
Ms Samut congratulated Mr Stewart on his appointment and looked forward to seeing QMusic’s exciting 2021 agenda come to life.
“I stayed on with QMusic since resigning a few months ago to ensure a seamless handover, to stage the Queensland Music Awards and to help give the live music industry a voice during these challenging times,” Ms Samut said.
“I am looking forward to spending more time with my family but I will be watching eagerly from the wings as some of the hugely creative and innovative opportunities and ideas that have emerged become a reality, contributing to the sustainability and success of QMusic, BIGSOUND and our state’s music industry in the future.”
The Australian music industry is a delicate ecosystem at risk of total collapse unless it receives critical life support. The success of Australia’s live music industry lies in the people who make the show go on - the technicians, engineers, managers, hiring companies and more - those who are COVID’s invisible victims.
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