Melbourne hipsters brewing new Gold Coast culture
How the Gold Coast became the cultural and culinary hub of Queensland.
Criena Gehrke is from Melbourne, but she had to come to the Gold Coast for culture. Okay… while that statement’s not entirely true, the fact it kind of is should tell you something about what’s been happening in a region once synonymous with theme parks, dolphin shows and meter maids in itsy-bitsy bikinis.
Criena did come to the Gold Coast for culture – specifically, to help develop it. That was back in 2013 when the Gold Coast needed all the help it could get. High culture here – even just six years ago – was a Bruce Willis movie on a Saturday night and a covers band playing Daryl Brathwaite on a Sunday.
But everything’s changed – if you haven’t been to the Gold Coast in years, there’s a good chance you won’t recognise the place. For starters, Criena is CEO of a new place called Home of the Arts (HOTA). It’s so close to Surfers Paradise you can smell the sunscreen, but this ambitious, multifaceted cultural complex will soon be home to Australia’s largest regional art gallery.
“It was pioneering,” Criena explains to me. “To see a city [Gold Coast] that was interested in culture… and then they funded it and put their money where their mouth was. They were open to putting artists in the centre of the strategy.”
There’s a $37 million outdoor stage where the likes of Tim Minchin and Neil Finn have performed. Then there’s the $60 million art gallery due to open next year, which will span six levels with 2000 square metres of exhibition space.