His love and passion for arts and culture has driven Bundaberg Regional Council's Rod Ainsworth to a life that revolves around theatre.
As Council's Arts and Cultural Services Manager for almost five years, Rod has contributed greatly to lifting the standard of the Moncrieff Entertainment Centre and the Bundaberg Regional Galleries.
Soon Rod will leave Council to pursue his passion as Director of Programming at Queensland Theatre in Brisbane.
For Rod, working for Australia’s third largest theatre company will be a dream come true.
“Bundaberg has had a long relationship with Queensland Theatre through their shows and the great work they’ve done in and with our schools,” said Rod.
“To now have a role where I’ll be focusing on producing their artistic programming, including large scale productions at QPAC, is excellent.
“It’s a real privilege for me to be working with Artistic Director Lee Lewis and Executive Director Amanda Jolly.”
Rod reflects on time with Council
Reflecting on his achievements at Council, Rod is proud of the new arts and culture strategy introduced at the Moncrieff and Galleries.
“The Moncrieff has a revitalised energy about it now,” said Rod.
“Certainly from a physical perspective since the renovations, but also the business model has completely changed.
“When I first came to Council, primarily it was a cinema with the occasional touring commercial show, a hall for hire so to speak.
“We decided it wasn’t viable to continue as a commercial cinema and left that to Readings who do it so well.
“A shift to more live entertainment, which includes a focus on First Nations artists, has proved we made the right decision.
“Our figures before COVID-19 showed we had an 82 percent increase in average ticket spend and a 37 percent increase in audiences over the three years prior.
“It’s been a massive change and certainly since reopening, we are seeing the busiest time since I started at Council.
“It’s absolutely phenomenal and the feedback we’re receiving from customers is that the vast menu of options in our programming means they don’t need to travel to Brisbane.”
The Galleries have also seen a change in programming and Rod said it’s a credit to the team who are engaging unique and quality national exhibitions as well as those from local artists.
Rod says success of Moncrieff and Galleries down to teamwork
Rod said his Arts and Cultural staff are a terrific bunch of professionals who are outward focused with an amazing attitude to service.
“It’s not just putting on a show, it’s an experience for the community, our visitors, our audience as well as our artists,” he said.
“In this industry it’s about word of mouth and relationships.
“Within my network I’m being told that artists love returning to Bundaberg because the experience is so welcoming.
“They love the fact that our staff provide them with gift packs of Bundaberg products and personally sign messages on a card. It’s the personal touch that counts.
“They also have a great time because our audiences are so supportive.”
Rod believes the increase in attendance at the Moncrieff and Galleries has boosted the economy for businesses within the CBD.
“it’s not just about the arts but the ripple effect that has in our community, especially when people make it a night out by combining dinner with a show,” said Rod.
“If we want to be the best regional community in Australia, ensuring there’s an energy and vibe in the community through arts and culture is an important part of attracting and keeping people in our region.”
When Rod finishes on the 31 March it will be a loss for Council but without a doubt, his positive contribution and passion for the arts will benefit theatre lovers across Queensland.