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10 Questions - Jo Thomas, Chief Executive, Artistic Director, Metro Arts

Summer Reading

Metro Arts artistic director and chief executive Jo Thomas steps up to answer InQueensland Summer Reading’s 10 questions.

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Did anything good come out of 2020?

Without minimising people’s pain and suffering from this year, it’s positive to shake the status quo and to keep questioning and provoking – this is good.  It was positive to see a renewed awareness of Black Lives Matter, a renewed sense of community and a reminder of how fragile we all are.  The new Metro Arts opening and being able to set up the Metro Arts Future Fund was also pretty damn good!

What’s your favourite Christmas memory?

Christmas in Brooklyn in New York staying in an amazing old converted stable (how Christian!) with a large group of friends.  It was a Christmas of love and heavy snow and jazz and amazing mussels and art.

Are you a summer or a winter person?

Anyone who knows me will tell you I cannot handle the cold.  I’ll shiver in 20-degree heat!  But the extremes of Queensland summer require lots of beach visits, cool drinks and lazy days.  I’m probably more of a spring/autumn gal!

How do you stay resilient during periods of change, like the year just gone?

I exercise.  I need that exertion to shift my mindset and give me energy to get up again.  I rely on my friends; and my plants!  And art gets me through.  I would not have survived this year without books and music; my guitar playing.  But this year has been exhausting and it’s important to realise there can be a limit to resilience, too.  Rest is so needed.

Who were your heroes of 2020?

The scientists, the activists, the front-line workers, the storytellers, the artists and my team at Metro Arts.  The everyday people who kept going and made small differences where they could. The ones who decorated neighbourhoods and shared hope locally or online.

Your secret ambition?

I’d love to be a roller-skating queen with knee-high socks, short shorts and fabulously coloured old-school roller skates …. but I don’t think it’s going to happen in this lifetime!  Either that or I’d be Jacinda Ardern.

Favourite end-of-year holiday spot?

At the moment it’s definitely Sunshine Beach; but last year I was in Cuba and Mexico and that was a spectacular way to end the year and see in a new one.

What are you hoping for next year?

I’m hoping for some peace and stability.  We’ve had a crazy few years at Metro Arts moving out of our old home of 40 years and into the new digs at West Village.  I’d like some time for us all to settle in and get to know our neighbours.  The program is incredibly large for 2021 with artists-in-residence and new youth programs alongside our usual exhibitions and performances so a chance to deliver all of this without too much disruption would be ideal.

Hot Christmas dinner, or cold?

I’m a firm seafood and champagne fan so cold Christmas dinner is my preference but always followed by my grandmother’s old recipe for Christmas pudding (hidden coins optional)

People/businesses to watch in 2021?

Watch these artists and collectives in 2021 – they will astound and delight and amaze and challenge you; and luckily you can catch all of them at Metro Arts …

In circus: Natano Fa’anana and Casus

In dance: Wanida Serce and Pink Matter

In art: Warraba Weatherall

In theatre: the new all-female HIVE collective

In emerging art practice: Lacey-Law-Lobwein

In transmedia performance: Counterpilot

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