Kotzas’ curtain call as Rachel Healy chosen as new boss of QPAC

As the John Kotzas curtain call goes on QPAC has finally announced who will be replacing him.

Jun 28, 2024, updated Jun 28, 2024
QPAC chief executive John Kotzas and Rachel Healy who will take over from him in December. Photo by Lyndon Mechielsen

QPAC chief executive John Kotzas and Rachel Healy who will take over from him in December. Photo by Lyndon Mechielsen

QPAC’s new theatre is very much the legacy of outgoing chief executive John Kotzas but it’s the new head honcho who will preside over its opening next year.

Yes, after months of waiting we now know who will take over from Kotzas and it’s the experienced arts identity Rachel Healy, widely acknowledged as one of Australia’s leading arts professionals.

The new theatre is way behind schedule and Healy will now be in charge when it opens but hopefully it might include a Kotzas wing, or a corridor at least.

Kotzas is staying on until the end of the year and Healy will take on the role in early December just in time to usher in QPAC’s 40th anniversary year in 2025.

With more than 20 years professional experience across multiple artforms, venues, festivals and arts administration, and having served on more than 30 arts boards and government and industry advisory bodies, she brings an extraordinary breadth of knowledge and expertise alongside a limitless passion for the arts to the role.

Chair of the Queensland Performing Arts Trust, Professor Peter Coaldrake, says Healy has the ideal blend of artistic leadership and arts management to drive QPAC forward.

“I am pleased to say that Rachel’s appointment was a unanimous decision by our board following an extensive national and international recruitment process led by respected human resources agency Russell Reynolds,” Professor Coaldrake says.

“Perhaps best known for her role as joint artistic director of the Adelaide Festival with Neil Armfield from 2015 to 2022, Rachel’s tenure in this high-profile cultural leadership position delivered remarkable critical acclaim, growth both in box office numbers and artistic accomplishment for the festival.”

Healy has held executive leadership positions at Belvoir St. Theatre, Sydney Opera House, Adelaide Festival, Vivid Festival and was the Executive Manager Culture for the City of Sydney.

“We were looking for someone to continue QPAC’s resolve of being as commercially successful as it is dedicated to engaging audiences and the community, “Professor Coaldrake says.

“The successful candidate needed to bring both business and creative nous, and to be a purpose-driven leader with an understanding of the important role the arts play in our wider Queensland community.

“She will step into an organisation well poised to move into a new era which includes the opening of a fifth venue making QPAC the largest performing arts centre in Australia under one roof.

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“I warmly acknowledge the important contribution that John Kotzas has made to the industry throughout his 15-year tenure as Chief Executive and look forward to celebrating his time leading QPAC later this year.”

Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch welcomed the appointment and says Healy will build on the significant legacy of John Kotzas.

“With QPAC on the threshold of its 40th year, the addition of the new theatre and Brisbane 2032 Olympics and Paralympics firmly on the horizon, Rachel will be taking on this important cultural leadership role at a critical time,” Minister Enoch says.

Rachel Healy lists QPAC’s commitment to its Reconciliation Action Plan, the completion of the new theatre next year (QPAC’s fifth), the venue’s central position in the South Bank Cultural Precinct as well as the opportunity to build on QPAC’s strong legacy as among her reasons for taking on the role.

“I could not be more delighted about the prospect of a move to Brisbane and the opportunity to serve the wider Queensland and visitor community at QPAC,” Healy says.

“The sheer number of extraordinary artists and cultural leaders Queensland produces is remarkable, and it feels that the city’s ambition, civic pride and sense of purpose has accelerated.

“Its commitment to active and affordable public transport, its Olympics and Paralympics bid, its investment in major cultural infrastructure all tell a story of a progressive, confident city opening its doors to the world.”

John Kotzas will finish December 10 while Rachel Healy begins in the role on December 11. The seat should still be warm.

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