Internationally recognised arts leader John Kotzas was this week awarded with an Honorary Doctorate from Griffith University.
The Chief Executive of Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) was honoured for his contribution to the cultural and artistic life of the State at the University’s graduation ceremony in South Bank.
As is often the case with leaders, John’s career path has been marked by a willingness to take chances, to try different things, and to embrace hard work.
He says that after more than a quarter of a century in creative services he recognises the importance of staying true to your inner voice and approaching life as an explorer.
“In this age of anxiety where beliefs and trust are increasingly challenged the arts can play a critical role in offering hope. Hope, for me, is not simply the desire for things to be better rather it’s the passion that allows things to happen,” said Mr Kotzas.
Raised in Innisfail in North Queensland, John describes his first taste of the arts as early trips to the local picture theatre with his father.
From his teens, John worked as a labourer at a cheese factory and then took a position at a bank in Brisbane before temporarily relocating to Darwin to help with relief efforts following Cyclone Tracy.
He completed his high school studies as a mature-age student before heading to Griffith University and the University of Queensland to become a secondary teacher.
In 1989, John joined QPAC as an education officer, effectively combining two of his passions. In 2009, he was appointed as Chief Executive of QPAC, now an iconic fixture in Brisbane’s South Bank precinct, attracting more than 1.4 million people annually.
Over the last quarter of a century, John has undertaken various roles for QPAC and a number of significant national celebrations. In 1995 he played a key part in the Australia Remembers celebrations on behalf of the Australian Government, and he was also Managing Director of the inaugural Brisbane Festival in 1996.
John is credited with strengthening QPAC’s international profile having secured the annual, exclusive presentation of some of the world’s greatest performing arts companies.
He led the team that developed the internationally recognised Out of the Box Festival and was instrumental in QPAC’s successes as an investor in large-scale musicals including The Phantom of the Opera and Chicago.
John also remains committed to creative processes, learning and inclusion. A proud second generation Greek-Australian, he is a passionate advocate of cultural diversity and social justice.
He was awarded the Doctorate at the Griffith University graduation ceremony on Monday 14 December at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre, South Bank.