Past Watercooler Chats

QPAC Watercooler Chats are a series of fortnightly conversations about news and issues relating to the work that QPAC does.

Topics range from arts to digital innovation, festivals, technology and more. Chats are lead by our Scholar in Residence Professor Judith McLean, as well as other members of the organisation.


Past QPAC Watercooler Chats

#QPACchat Friday, 18 November 2016

Led by Jasmine Ellem – Digital Content Editor

What's in a handle?
With the U.S. presidential election coming to a head last week, we're left with more than a few questions... One of which is: what will happen to the @POTUS and @FLOTUS Twitter accounts?
On Inauguration Day, 20 January 2017, prolific Tweeters Barack and Michelle Obama will have their official social media accounts archived, wiped and handed over to the next president, along with the keys to the White House.
This 'digital transition' marks a first in U.S. presidential history, and will create a model for those in office going forward. So, what would you do if you could wipe your digital identity and start afresh? Would you choose a different handle? Reveal less of your life? Not get on social media to begin with? Come armed with your first email address or a handle you wish you'd snagged first.

Background reading:

The Digital Transition: How the Presidential Transition Works in Social Media Age
The next @POTUS? Twitter account won't follow Barack Obama out of office
What happens to Barack Obama's @Potus Twitter handle when he leaves White House?
Breaking Up With Twitter

#QPACchat Friday, 4 November 2016

Judith McLean Led by Judith McLean – QPAC Scholar in Residence.

Marsha and Marjorie were born on the same day of the same month of the same year to the same mother and the same father, yet they are not twins. How is this possible?
Come and flex your imagination at a hands-on Watercooler with QPAC's Scholar in Residence Judith McLean.

#QPACchat Friday, 21 October 2016

Led by Claire D'Hooghe – Digital Marketing Administrator

Have you seen Backstage in Biscuit Land yet? If you have, what did you think? It seems a better time than ever to discuss how, as an arts institution and as individuals, we can further support artists with disabilities. The performing arts are for everyone. Join us as we discuss the challenges and triumphs of putting on a disability-friendly show.

Background reading:

$30,000 Fellowship for a NSW Artists with Disability 
Disability and the 'new normal' 
Tourette’s Syndrome is a laughing matter 

#QPACchat Friday, 7 October 2016

The great heist of 2017: The robbery of Kim Kardashian. 

This week chat aims to open up a discussion about how social media is changing the way the 'haves' flaunt their wealth, creating a deeper divide between those who 'have not'.  

#QPACchat Friday, 9 September 2016

Are tragedy and suffering inextricably linked with the creation of great art? Or does art offer a means of healing?

This week, join QPAC's Executive Assistant - Programming, Georgia Byrne, as she looks at the ways in which we make sense of tragic events by exploring our creativity.

#QPACchat Friday, 26 August 2016

Cindy Ullrich (Publicity Manager) Bonjour mes amis!

With the 2016 QPAC International Series only moments away, what better time is there to brush up on our French language skills?

This week, QPAC's Publicity Manager, Cindy Ullrich, and Corporate Marketing Manager, Jennifer Cahill, will lead us through some basic French phrases ahead of French contemporary dance company Ballet Preljocaj's season of Snow White.

#QPACchat Friday, 12 August 2016

Nadia Razzhigaeva Led by Nadia Razzhigaeva - Digital Marketing Coordinator (eCommerce).

You may have seen that SBS has recently been accused of letting its programming standard slide and even failed its own charter.

These accusations draw attention to the curatorial nature of programming and the ways in which, all too often, companies feel the pressure to consistently please the majority audience rather than support the voice of the minority. As QPAC exists within a multicultural society, it is important to consider our responsibility towards marginalised voices and our plans to put this into action.

Background reading:

Daily Review - Staffer defends SBS as committed to inclusivity, diversity and multiculturalism
Daily Review - Is SBS a shadow of its former self?

#QPACchat Friday, 29 July 2016

Judith McLean Led by Judith McLean – QPAC Scholar in Residence.

What kind of leader do you aspire to be: building your leadership skills in the arts.

There are three attributes found in a great leader:
1. A vision (to give people something to believe in)
2. An ability to lead by example
3. A belief in the people you're leading

This week join QPAC's Scholar in Residence Professor Judith McLean, as she explores what it means to be a great arts leader.

Background reading:
Every Reader is an Artist - Michael O'Malley for Harvard Business Review

#QPACchat Friday 15 July, 2016

Eleanor Price Led by Eleanor Price  – Senior Campaign Coordinator, Marketing.

The preserved city of Palmyra is considered one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world, but earlier this year, ISIL destroyed its remains and now there are talks on how it should be restored. Works by Shakespeare, Jane Austen and so many others have been altered or reimagined to be more relevant for a contemporary audience, but on the other hand, racist undertones from a bygone era still feature in many of the musicals we love and enjoy today.

Should art act as a time capsule of the period in which it was created, or, should it be contemporised as times change? Who decides? And what things need to be considered?

This week, Senior Campaign Coordinator, Eleanor Price, invites those around the proverbial watercooler to consider the interplay between history and art.

#QPACchat Friday 1 July, 2016

Brett Howe Led by Brett Howe - QPAC Executive Producer – Communities and Family.

This week, join QPAC's Executive Producer – Communities and Family, Brett Howe, for a chat and a brief rundown on all the best bits of last week's Out of the Box festivities.

#QPACchat Friday 17 June, 2016

Judith McLean Led by Judith McLean – QPAC Scholar-in-Residence.

It's easy to fall into the trap of focusing on the little things in your work life and lose sight of the bigger picture. This week, join QPAC's Scholar in Residence, Professor Judith McLean, as she takes a step back from the monotony of our everyday tasks and explores what it means to be part of a larger, arts ecology.

#QPACchat Friday 3 June, 2016

Nadia Razzhigaeva Led by Nadia Razzhigaeva - Digital Marketing Coordinator (eCommerce).

Transport yourself back to Brisbane in 1982 and imagine this scene: graffiti carelessly scribbled on hoarding that surrounded the yet to be finished Cultural Centre. The large letters ask "95% of artists in Brisbane leave, why don't you?"

No one claimed responsibility for the graffiti and it was quite a while before it was removed. A photograph of it is currently on display at the UQ Art Museum as part of ephemeral traces: Brisbane's artist-run scene in the 1980s.

Peter Anderson, exhibition curator, writes: this piece of graffiti captures something of the tone of Brisbane at that time. While this figure was not statistically accurate, it often seemed that way... Back then, leaving Brisbane was part of the culture.
More than 30 years on, the Cultural Centre and QPAC are well and truly built. But why do a large amount of artists, critical thinkers and young people still leave Brisbane?

Background reading:

#QPACchat Friday 20 May, 2016

Led by Megan Kair - QPAC Executive Director – Development.

Whether it be a 'quick' check over your emails on the commute home or a phone call while you're cooking dinner, technology has given us the freedom to work from wherever we choose, but many of us have forgotten how to switch off.

It's hard to deny that work is creeping into our personal lives at an alarming rate and if you view overtime as common place or are tempted by the idea of going into the office in your free time to 'get stuff done', it might be time to assess your work/life balance.

This week, join QPAC's Executive Director of Development, Megan Kair, as she discusses whether we live to work or work to live.

#QPACchat Friday 6 May, 2016

Led by Stephen Wilcox - QPAC Senior Archives Officer.

Live music? No thanks.
In a time of crisp, clean, instantly downloadable tunes, almost gargantuan-sized streaming archives, and Lemonade-flavoured multimedia releases, who wants to risk a broken toilet or a face full of somebody else's sweaty hair at a shonky music venue?

But betwixt fallen hero Prince and the absurdity of Axl/DC, there may still be some hope. Join senior archives officer, musician and rock music tragic, Stephen Wilcox, in the line up for the bar to chat whether the live music experience still has relevance.

#QPACchat Friday 8 April, 2016

Alex Flynn Can't you take a joke!?

Led by Alex Flynn - QPAC Receptionist.

Comedy, as a genre, is often seen to be frivolous or light-hearted. Yet, many of us might recall certain moments in our lives when the line between humour and ridicule has been blurred, when a joke suddenly veers off course and hits a little too close to home, at times revealing a surprising, and often difficult, truth. Are there some things that shouldn't ever be joked about?

This Friday join us as we discuss the ethics of comedy and the ways in which this genre can be used as a powerful tool for social commentary.

#QPACchat Friday 11 March, 2016

Judith McLean Led by Judith McLean  – QPAC Scholar-in-Residence.

Join Professor Judith McLean, as she discusses the role of the Queensland Cultural Centre as a drop-in centre. In particular, Judith will be focussing on the State Library's Infozone as a case study.

Infozone change of opening hours at of 4 Jan 2016: Mon-Thu, 9am-8pm, Fri 9am-5pm, Sat-Sun 10am-5pm.

Background reading:

#QPACchat Friday 26 February, 2016

This Watercooler invites you to discuss 'reality' television.

Over the past few years we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of reality television series gracing our screens.

Whether it be MasterChef, Keeping up with the Kardashians, The Bachelor or The Block, society has become overwhelmed with images of a glowing, larger than life 'reality'.

This Friday, join us as we explore the obsession with reality television and its place in contemporary culture.

Background reading:

#QPACchat Friday 20 November, 2015

Christopher Smith Led by Christopher Smith – Curator, QPAC Museum.

This Watercooler invites you to consider the topic – "Vive la Revolution"

Vive la Revolution?

The QPAC tunnel installations are curated to provide insight and background to major events at the Centre. To coincide with the season of Les Misérables the current installation was developed to explore the changing political face of Paris from the fall of the monarchy in the 18th century to the student revolts of 1968. In the light of recent events in Paris the city is again at the centre of a revolution being played out across the globe. Why Paris, and why now?

Background reading:

#QPACchat Friday 6 November, 2015

Ben Packer Led by Ben Packer - Digital Marketing Administrator.

This Watercooler invites you to consider – 'is email broken?'

Email has become the most reviled business tool ever. It is time-consuming and often inefficient but it has become the default mode of communication, even as the volume of information being delivered to us daily continues to increase.

How do you use email? How does your team or network (whether within or outside of the workplace) manage the smooth flow of information?

Communication is changing. Young people are not communicating with email. Will email go the way of the fax machine within the next five years? What will replace it?

Background reading: 

Why Email Will Be Obsolete by 2020
What's going to happen to digital communication over the next five years?

Email forever! Why social apps can't replace it
How can we get rid of the scourge of, the addiction to, or the backwardness of email, so we're not inundated with messages we don't care about and not glued to the screen in reaction mode all day?

Inbox Zero
Here are some ways to get back to 'inbox zero'.

#QPACchat Friday 23 October, 2015

Judith McLean Led by Judith McLean – Scholar-in-Residence.

This Watercooler invites you to consider what makes a stage show 'a work of art'?

#QPACchat Friday 9 October, 2015

Sarah Schuiringa Led by Sarah Schuiringa - Marketing Coordinator.

This Watercooler invites you to consider creativity and aspirations in youth and our careers.

Here is a quote to start the thought process:
"It is in books, poems, paintings which often give us the confidence to take seriously feelings in ourselves that we might otherwise never have thought to acknowledge." Alain de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness
As children we are in a portal of creativity and are given both the tangible and non tangible things that we need to expand our mind, find our passions, think out of the box, and exercise our creative freedom. However as adults, we become witness to a disconnect: dreams, hobbies and passions can be neglected.

Do we place an emphasis on "opportunity cost" and "monetary success" first, rather than risk the creative life, which is so often prefaced as being nothing more than a struggle, and only for the sturdy few? At what point do we begin the process of placing these desires aside? At what point do we try and reconnect with these parts of our lives that significantly contributed to our individuality?

QPAC is a hub of creativity, a stage where dreams are made. What has drawn us all together as staff members at QPAC to have the desire to work behind the scenes to make other peoples' creative passions a success?


#QPACchat Friday 25 September, 2015

Nadia Razzhigaeva Led by Nadia Razzhigaeva - Digital Marketing Coordinator (eCommerce).

This Watercooler invites you to consider gender assumptions in marketing ... and life.

You may know the centuries old nursery rhyme:

What are little boys made of? Snips and snails And puppy-dogs' tails

What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice And everything nice

In 2015, gender is not as 'straightforward' as it used to be. In many societies, we are talking more about what lies outside the traditional dichotomy of 'man' and 'woman'. Shows like I Am Cait are on our screens and recently Target in the US took down signage indicating gender amongst toys (not without controversy!)

At a time when we are exploring, discussing, being more open and less judgmental, what is the role of marketing in supporting (or not) the traditional gender assumptions? Do we still talk about power tools just for men? And perfume just for women? Is how we market and how we are marketed still influential or are we all too cynical to be manipulated?

Background reading:

#QPACchat Friday 11 September, 2015

Judith McLean Led by Judith McLean  – Scholar-in-Residence.

Check out this article and let's see if we can work out a way to reduce stress in our lives:

#QPACchat Friday 28 August, 2015

Emily Philip Led by Emily Philip  – Strategic Communications Officer.

The topic: Dismaland.
Dismaland is a "festival of art, amusements and entry level anarchism" according to its creator Banksy. The four-week 'bemusement' park installation in a derelict seaside pool complex in Britain is the antithesis of the usual amusement park attractions we are encouraged to attend in summer months.

Visitors are immersed in a twisted fairground experience designed to be shocking, confronting and, well, dismal. In a world where our arts/cultural/leisure experiences are centred on good, positive and fun experiences, how will Dismaland fare? Or are we ready for a cultural challenge?

Emily is interested in your thoughts about immersive art, being challenged, trying new things, gimmickry and whether an experience needs to be good.

Check out the trailer for Dismaland and these links for some ideas to get you thinking:

#QPACchat Friday 14 August, 2015

Judith McLean Led by Judith McLean – Scholar-in-Residence.

This Watercooler invites you to consider Conscious Capitalism and Internal Maps.

We all need meaning and purpose in our lives. It is one of the things that separates us from other animals. Purpose activates us and motivates us. It moves us to get up in the morning, sustains us when times get tough and serves as a guiding star when we stray off course. Conscious Businesses provide us with this sense of meaning and purpose.

"We're not on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves. But in doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes." Joseph Campbell


  1. How important is it to mix our work/business and our life's purpose?
  2. How can we contribute to QPAC being an active member of conscious capitalism?
  3. What does leading a meaningful life mean for you?

Check these links for some ideas to get you thinking:

#QPACchat Friday 31 July, 2015

Eleanor Price Led by Eleanor Price – Senior Campaign Coordinator.

Sports funding continues to be consistently higher than arts funding, adding fuel to an ongoing arts debate – who decided that working your physical muscle was more important than working your creative muscle?

Numerous studies show the positive impact arts participation has on individuals and communities, so why then is so much emphasis placed on going to a gym to keep physically fit, but not attending or creating art so you're not dull?

Some questions to consider:
  • If we know that the arts matter, then:
    • Why is sports funding consistently more than arts funding?
    • Why, within Australia, is a greater emphasis placed on sport?
      • In the media: Why are there specific sports news sections in all news updates, but rarely a special arts news section?
      • Regarding funding: Why, in schools, are art/drama classes the first to go when there are funding cuts? Are your physical muscles more important than your creative muscles? - Debatable.
    • Why, in the first place, do we compare sports and arts, as they're so intrinsically different?
  • How do we ensure the arts to appeal to a broader audience, in this case, a sports audience? Can we use the 'sport and play are related to art' point to influence this? What are the entry points?

Background reading:

#QPACchat Friday 17 July, 2015

Alex Flynn Led by Alex Flynn – QPAC Receptionist

This QPACchat invites you to consider the vibrant history of poetry and its presence in today's society in the hope of tackling the age old question: Is poetry dead?

Below, Christopher Ingraham discusses poetry's gloomy reality in contemporary society, while Brandon Griggs offers a glimmer of hope in the face of numerous, damning statistics. A short poem from John Donne's Songs and Sonnets is also included in order to showcase some of the struggles poetry faces as a linguistic art form.

Check these links for some ideas to get you thinking:

#QPACchat Friday 5 June, 2015  

Alex Flynn Led by Judith McLean  – Scholar-in-Residence.

This watercooler centred around hot topics, spurred by the Zaky Mallah-ABC Q&A fracas that filled cyberspace and the media commentaries in the weeks prior. Reportage and a commentary by Elizabeth Farrely (SMH) is included below to give you some background in case you've missed it. However, come prepared to discuss anything that's got under your collar lately.

1. po·lem·ic
plural noun: polemics

A strong verbal or written attack on someone or something.
"His polemic against the cultural relativism of the sixties"
synonyms: diatribe, invective, rant, tirade, broadside, attack, harangue, condemnation, criticism, stricture, admonition, rebuke

Check these links for some ideas to get you thinking:


Brett Howe Led by Brett Howe – Executive Producer

With the push for an earlier and earlier start to academics for our children, and the positioning of this education as a way to shape their future lives, is it possible that we as adults are not recognising the current societal value of a child. Do we have just as much to learn from children as they do from us? We will be discussing the ideas of the child as a leader in the learning process, and what values they have that we may wish to learn or reconnect with.

Check these links for some ideas to get you thinking:

#QPACchat Friday 22 May, 2015

Judith McLean Led by Judith McLean  – Scholar-in-Residence.

We'll be talking about all things art and I'll introduce some new ideas about our business. Only preparation – read the poem below and have a think about what it says to you:

They call all experience of the senses mystic, when the experience is considered.
So an apple becomes mystic when I taste in it
the summer and the snows, the wild welter of earth
and the insistence of the sun.
If I say I taste these things in an apple, I am called mystic, which means a liar.
The only way to eat an apple is to hog it down like a pig
And taste nothing
That is real.

Provocation: Do you know your business – does working in the arts necessarily mean you know about the arts?

#QPACchat Friday 8 May, 2015

Eleanor Price Led by Eleanor Price – Senior Campaign Coordinator

Prompted by the recent reaction to SBS's reality TV documentary Struggle Street, this week's chat discusses the role of morals and ethics in the arts and entertainment.

Is it the responsibility of the artist to create morally and ethically sound works? At what point does art or entertainment move from provoking meaningful thought and conversation, to becoming unethical? Can there really be such a thing as 'unethical art' if, for some artists, their goal is to shock in an effort to ignite conversation and social change?

Background reading:

#QPACchat Friday 24 April, 2015

Judith McLean Led by Judith McLean – Scholar-in-Residence.

We discussed competitions – what is the value and what are the downsides?

Why Competitions – Official Trailer

The value of competition
Or, why competitive feelings are good for you:
Being competitive can have an ugly connotation in our society. It has become, in some ways, synonymous with greed, envy and narcissism. But feeling competitive isn't always about climbing the ladder, winning the race or getting ahead. Competitive feelings are completely natural. Moreover, they're unavoidable. Like it or not, we all feel competitive a lot of the time.

The downside of competition
Schools and workplaces encourage our selfish side, but research suggests this attitude is counterproductive to our wellbeing.

Background reading:

#QPACchat Friday 10 April, 2015

Judith McLean Led by Brett Howe – Executive Producer.

How are digital tracking devices impacting on our arts experience... do they hinder? Do they enhance? Are they just tools to make us buy more?

Recently, Disney announced their new MagicBands which will track visitors from entry to exit. Linked to smartphones and your bank account you can leave your cash at home and concentrate on fun. Sure, they'll be tracking what you're doing and where you're going but what company isn't collecting data these days?

But is all this technology really enhancing our real, live experiences... or is it a passing gimmick and phase?

Background reading:

#QPACchat Friday 27 March, 2015

Davey Thompson Led by Davey Thompson – Programming Assistant

Prompted by the recent Australian launch of Netflix, we chat about the rising trend of media streaming. Are the days of publically gushing over a major plot twist gone?

What does this latest trend mean for our television and cinema industries and for live performance? Is this the next step in the evolution of our society?

Background reading:

#QPACchat Friday 13 March, 2015

Inga Tracey Led by Inga Tracey  – Publicity Manager

To celebrate International Women's Day we discuss what it means to be a feminist in today's society. "What is the right" kind of feminist... do we even need the label anymore... is it time to "rebrand" feminism altogether?

As an arts organisation we'll take on this BIG topic through the lens of some practicing artists (see below for links to some reading material).

Some introductory thoughts:
  • Feminism has never been one size fits all, yet much of the criticism that revolves around entertainers like Beyoncé (or corporate leaders like Sheryl Sandberg) presumes that there is a unilateral guide on how to be the "right" kind of feminist.
  • Beyoncé's critique of mainstream feminism may be musical, but it is still incisive, valid, and incredibly cogent right now. It's a lyrical explanation of what's wrong with assuming that being feminist requires one to follow a script, and not your own heart.
Background reading:

Beyoncé – Debate over self titled album – The many faces of feminism

ABC's Q&A – Bad Feminism: Contradictions and Careers

Ex-Neighbours star goes nude for feminism

#QPACchat Friday 27 February, 2015

Rebecca Lamoin Led by Rebecca Lamoin – Associate Director – Strategy

Has become 'too nice' – is it letting us down in its reactions to contemporary world issues or is it leading the charge?

Belgian festival director and curator Frie Leysen challenged the Australian Theatre Forum with a keynote address (see below for link) suggesting:
"We should valorise the risk, the adventure, the ephemeralness of theatre, the uniqueness of the experience, the temporary community that is created every evening again with the actors and the audience."
More recently Australian artist Ben Quilty advocated on behalf of Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan who are on death row in Indonesia and there was some controversy surrounding Oscar winners and acceptance speeches.

Background reading:

 Join the conversation - #QPACcreatory



Past Chats