Q&A with Gareth Hart

1. What is something people don’t know about you?

I have an irrational fear of velvet. After spending my lifetime in the theatre (usually with Velvet curtains), I made a interesting career choice!

2. How long have you been involved with Burrinja Cultural Centre?

I first worked with Burrinja in 2014, where the former director and myself dreamt up the ‘hillsceneLIVE festival’ which continues to this day. After that I moved around to a few other roles, including Yarra Ranges Council and then a few years running an organisation in Mildura and returned to take up the creative director/chief executive officer role at Burrinja is September last year. What a time to take up a new job!

3. What do you enjoy most about art?

I think art is one of the most powerful ways that we can come together. To speculate on our future, to be inspired by new ideas, to create a colourful, critical and compassionate community. For these reasons and so many more I love art.

4. What has been one of your most memorable moments at Burrinja?

Earlier this year we struck up a partnership with local social enterprise Tasty AZ, who work with people with a disability in hospitality training and career pathways. When they announced to their clients that they were going to be taking over the cafe operation at Burrinja, we had around 15 young people all blown away by the opportunity: including tears of joy, claims of “this is better than Christmas” and a general level of excitement that was truly infectious. That is what I love about Burrinja the most: the powerful ways in which community and art come together through the organisation.

5. What do you love most about the Upwey?

Upwey is a very connected, supported and together community. There’s community, art, business, people, and support around every corner you look.

I feel that throughout the whole hills region – it’s a very special place to be connected to.

6. What event, past, present, or future, would you like to witness?

I look forward to a future event where we take to streets and celebrate the human resilience that reverses the impacts of the climate crisis. Can you image how huge that party would be?!

7. Which four guests would you invite to a dinner party?

Bjork – for her incredible dynamism and musicality – a truly unique artist.

Bruce Pascoe – to hear first hand his thinking, reflecting and work on pre-contact Aboriginal land management (we can learn so much here!).

Emily Kame Kngwarreye – one of my favourite painters, stunning, vivid, bold use of colour and texture.

My partner – so that I could share this fabulous dinner party with them and have someone to remember it with forever.

8. Who do you admire the most?

Anybody who takes bold, brave risks, but also does so with humility and humbleness.

9. What are some of your hobbies?

I am very fortunate that my creative practice, my work and my hobbies all come together daily: so my hobbies are art.

10. What are your favourite book and/or film?

Perhaps not my favourite book of all time, however I did just finish reading N.K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth series – a trilogy of speculative science fantasy books that track apocalyptic ecological disasters. It was a very good series!