Named after the late Queensland poet, the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts was officially opened in October 2001 as Australia’s first truly integrated art space.
In earlier times the buildings which formed this Fortitude Valley venue were tea and biscuit factories. Today, the "Judy" as it is affectionately known, exists to nourish the creative energies of Queensland artists and companies. Judith Wright talked of her poetry as a form of love that comes to you as an impulse. And so it is for many resident companies and artists creating across visual arts, performing arts and for screen. The Judith Wright Centre as a building breathes through the community of passionate people that work and create within its walls.
An initiative of the Queensland Government operated by Arts Queensland, with renovations designed by Cox Rainer Architects, the venue was developed to house facilities such as a 300-seat performance space, modern art gallery, artist studios, a screening room, purpose-built administration and storage amenities, workshops and theatre, music, dance and circus rehearsal spaces.
To bring the project to fruition, the Queensland Government formed a unique partnership with seven founding arts organisations: Elision Contemporary Music Ensemble, Expressions Dance Company, Circa: Rock 'n' Roll Circus Ensemble, Kooemba Jdarra Indigenous Performing Arts, the Institute of Modern Art, The Arterial Group and the Brisbane branch of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. Today, the Judith Wright Centre continues as a home to Circa, Expressions Dance Company and the Institute of Modern Art, as well as a broad range of arts organisations, creative industry tenants, a café and bars.
Venue programming was initiated to open up access to the Judy’s cutting-edge performance spaces to non-resident companies and artists. Initially focussing largely on world music, programming has evolved over the last decade to encompass cabaret, circus, dance and contemporary performance.
Developing career pathways for Queensland artists forms a core element of the Judith Wright Centre's operations. This includes the expansion of creative development opportunities through initiatives such as Fresh Ground, and ticketed programmed events.