The Brisbane Festival has just dropped its program for this year, offering a striking backdrop for events held in September. But Brisbane can add some creative flair to events all year round at one of the city’s many arts and cultural venues.
Head to South Bank for a concentrated dose of art and culture, home to galleries and museums. The Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art, better known as QAGOMA, have two very different personalities, each with its own event spaces on offer.
Hayley Owen, event manager at QAGOMA, says organisers will often enhance their event experience by coinciding with a drawcard exhibition.
The latest exhibitions to open at QAGOMA are Michael Zavros: The Favourite and eX de Medici: Beautiful Wickedness, which are being are shown side by side on level 1 of GOMA.
With interstate business events picking up again, Hayley says event organisers are keen to explore alternative venues, and with more than 20,000 works of historical, modern and contemporary art on display, QAGOMA’s spaces offer multiple points of difference.
“Events are QAGOMA are unique due to the ever-changing display of art on display,” she says.
“We can provide discounted entry to major exhibitions for groups, and our wonderful curatorial team are available to provide a curatorial overview to guests for an additional fee. We also have access to unique merchandise designed by artists.”
Across the river, the iconic Tivoli theatre has seen a renewed shift towards utilising its space for events.
“We now have a great balance of world-class live shows and private events,” says events director Harry Upton.
Tivoli’s sister venue The Princess has also reached its potential as an events destination following a multi-million dollar refurbishment, says Upton.
“What I love about these spaces is they encourage creativity,” he says, citing one a lunch event at the Princess where guests had pre-drinks in the Gallery Bar, a seated lunch with surprise performance in the Auditorium and an after-party with DJs in the Courtyard.
“I love those events that send guests on a journey,” he adds. “At The Tivoli, we’ve hosted galas where we’ve created a large red carpet arrival via the carpark, with ample space for media and photo opportunities, with guests entering the venue from a different angle to the usual main entrance.
“Last Christmas season it was also great to re-imagine the upstairs mezzanine area with pop up make-up booths, even our staff got a bit glammed up.”
And being iconic music venues with stages that have been graced by the greats including Bob Dylan, Taylor Swift and Silverchair to name a few, Upton says they always encourage organisers to include musical elements in their events.
“Both venues also have options to add aerial acts,” he says. “In fact, one of my favourite recent events was an awards dinner that booked a full performance by Briefs as their entertainment. Their event date happened to fall just after a run of the popular ‘Briefs Bite Club’ show in our venue, so we extended the season for one extra night and guests were treated to a private version of the stage show including aerial, circus and live music.”
Another creative hub sits directly on the riverfront. Northshore has been transformed from its former life an industrial dock into a new hub that includes an events precinct that is the city’s largest riverside canvas for art installations, events and immersive experiences.
Host to major international exhibitions and experiences including Cirque du Soleil, Van Gogh Alive, Disney+ drive ins, the Brisbane International Film Festival, Anywhere Festival performances and culinary event Diner en Blanc, Northshore has both indoor and outdoor event spaces catering to just about any size big or small.
It’s also home to Flipside Circus, Queensland’s largest youth arts organisation, with circus skills workshops through to full on performances available for groups or teambuilding.
Brisbane Powerhouse also boasts a scenic riverfront location that can be leveraged for events at their new Pleasuredome venue. The 520sqm of space under canvas creates an atmosphere of its own which combined with the surrounding gardens and riverside location have made it runaway success.
“The Pleasuredome continues to be an impactful and well sought after venue,” says Sharde Holmes-Keech, Event Sales Manager at Brisbane Powerhouse.
“There has been significant uptake from the corporate sector, utilising the venue for dinners, awards nights and end of year celebrations. Our programming team have also staged ticketed performances in the venue, which saw the Pleasuredome activated throughout the month of May for Brisbane Comedy Festival , housing many sold out shows.”
But the main Powerhouse building is also home to some eclectic spaces of its own, with its long and chequered history still writ large, and often in spray paint, upon its brick walls.
“We welcome the opportunity to showcase our beautiful building and can include tours and experiences that are immersed with the exhibitions we have in the venue at the time,” says Holmes-Keech.
“Exhibitions elevate our events by allowing our clients and guests the opportunity to experience a range of visual arts, which are engaging and create a point of discussion.
“As our exhibitions are free and open to the public this allows our clientele to engage with them at a time that suits.”
The Brisbane Powerhouse is also home to Night Feast, a new month-long sensory celebration of feasting and art that debuted this year.
“The first instalment of Night Feast witnessed over 120,000 hungry devourers of food, art and music venture to the feast this Autumn gone,” says Holmes-Keech.
“Spanning across four weeks, Brisbane’s biggest food and art feast left its mark on the city. Brisbane Powerhouse partners and sponsors are afforded exclusive event opportunities during Night Feast, but the festival is free to attend so anyone can take advantage of the activities in the precinct.
“Night Feast is a great option to complete a daytime conference in one of our internal spaces, as the activity commences at 4:30pm.”
From artistic blockbusters and cabaret performances through to circus skills and culinary creativity, Brisbane’s cultural side can add some extra flair to every event.