Summit: syd22

Length: 42:45

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This talk is presented by

Lisa Havilah - CEO, MAAS (Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences)

Lisa Havilah is CEO of MAAS (Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences) which incorporates the Powerhouse Museum which is moving to Paramatta in a $645 million project. Previously she was Director at Carriageworks in Sydney.

From 2005 – 2011 Lisa was the Director of Campbelltown Arts Centre. Under her directorship Campbelltown Arts Centre pioneered a multidisciplinary contemporary arts program, bringing together artists and communities across disciplines to examine ideas through the processes of producing contemporary art. She has developed and managed a range of national and international exchanges, exhibition and residency programs most recently Edge of Elsewhere Edge of Elsewhere (2010-12), a three-year project for Sydney Festival that commissioned artists from Australia, Asia and the Pacific to develop new work in partnership with suburban communities.

RONE - Artist and Creative Entrepreneur - on developing new forms of experiential art

Finding the friction point between beauty and decay is a thread that runs through much of Rone’s work. As a street artist best known for his haunting, stylised images of women’s faces, he understands better than most that beauty can be fleeting. Seeing his artworks gradually worn away by natural and human elements has taught him to appreciate the unexpected beauty of an image as it begins to blend back into its more prosaic surroundings.

Rone has gone from spearheading Melbourne’s fledgling street art movement in the early 2000s, as a member of the Everfresh crew, to being a celebrated fixture on the international street art scene. An inveterate traveller, his distinctive female muses have followed him around the world, and can be found – in various states of decay – peering out from beneath overpasses and emblazoned on walls everywhere from New York to New Zealand and many places in between.

These days, Rone’s work is found as often in galleries as it is on the streets. His work has been acquisitioned by the National Gallery of Australia, commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria to work with Jean Paul Gaultier and shown by galleries in London, Berlin and New York.

Bruce Peterson - Founder, Grande Experiences & 'The LUME Melbourne' - a new permanent, multi-sensory immersive art experience opening within the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre in September 2021

Not many pioneers of the art scene have come from P.E. teaching – but this is one of the many hats Melbourne entrepreneur Bruce Peterson has worn in his incredibly varied career.

Peterson, 55, runs Grande Experiences, which produces much-celebrated – and much-loved – large- scale, immersive digital art and culture, science and nature exhibitions and experiences that have attracted more than 17 million visitors in 145+ cities across the globe, presented in 32 languages.

His innovative experiences combine cutting-edge HD digital imaging, multi-channel surround sound and even aromas to offer an unparalleled, walk through cinematic experience of the art and lives of such greats as Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet. He does this by allowing visitors to, quite literally, step into their works, to experience them, to be immersed in them from “a completely different angle than you would in a traditional art gallery or museum.” 

And it is this attitude – of enjoying art from “the perspective of a normal bloke like me,” - that has his pioneering exhibitions and experiences regularly headline some of the world’s most prestigious established and emerging museums and galleries, including the National Geographic Museum in Washington, Madrid’s Arte Canal, Russia’s Artillery Museum and the ArtScience Museum in Singapore. 

Peterson, who holds a bachelor’s degree in education, says the very fact he does not have formal qualifications in art curation is a key to Grande’s success. He approaches every exhibition as an average person, not a traditional art curator or academic – and his aim is to educate and share the pleasure of art not just with those who already appreciate great art and culture, but also with those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to be exposed to it, as well as those who might be intimidated by the whole culture of the arts world. 

“For me, it’s about taking art and the extraordinary stories behind the art and the artists to the masses in an environment that is inclusive for all, and it frightens no one,” says Peterson, whose own passion for art – and life’s many experiences - has seen him and his family travel all over the world - from the Arctic to the Amazon.

Though his mother and grandmother are artists (as is one of his daughters), Peterson’s passion for sharing art came late in life, after he’d enjoyed several successful careers as a secondary school teacher, sales representative at a multinational pharmaceuticals company and even launching thriving businesses in printing, luxury travel and team performance/leadership training. 

In 2005, he received a fateful call from a friend representing a group of Italian artists interested in bringing an exhibition of the works of Leonardo da Vinci to his hometown of Melbourne. The display was a great success attracting 120,000 visitors but he felt the exhibition could be a whole lot better and richer. The vision to create the world’s most comprehensive exhibitions on Leonardo da Vinci, all housed under the one roof was born.

Despite having no experience in the highly complex (and, often, haughty) world of exhibition curation, Peterson and his wife packed up their young family and headed to Italy where they lived for 12 months, creating what would become, and remains today after several updates 16 years later, the largest and most detailed exhibition of the Italian master’s works anywhere in the world. In 2013 he even bought the private museum Leonardo da Vinci Museo in Rome from the Italian Artisans and it operates very successfully in Piazza del Popolo within the crypt of Chiesa Santa Maria.

“So many people told me that I couldn’t possibly do it and that was like showing a red rag to a bull,’’ says Peterson, a born disruptor and confessed rule-breaker. “I quickly learned that not being from the arts fraternity was actually a benefit and gave me the freedom to create exhibitions through the eyes of a visitor; not a curator or for academic peers. It has led I believe to a much more engaging, entertaining and enjoyable experience for many people.

“Art galleries and museums can be quite intimidating places, but it’s 2021, so it’s no longer about standing in front of a painting and staring at it quietly from afar. Using technology cleverly means that it’s now possible to experience art in a more inclusive way that offers a much deeper, more immersive, multi-sensory experience that draws you into the art.”

Peterson has gone on to expand Grande Experiences’ repertoire of exhibitions and experiences to encompass science and nature, and also literature with interactive exhibitions such as Planet Shark: Predator or Prey, Monet & Friends and Alice – A Wonderland Adventure. New productions in the pipeline include The World of Street Art (which will include 15 original and complete sections of the Berlin Wall that he owns ... don’t ask) and a unique Australian Indigenous Experience.


Peterson is now spending a lot of time and energy embarking on the creation of new cultural attractions around the world; specifically permanent Digital Art Galleries commencing with THE LUME Melbourne due to open in mid 2021. Also under establishment is The LUME Indianapolis in partnership with the Indianapolis Museum of Art and THE LUME London. These huge multisensory galleries also incorporate taste into the sensory experience, with fully themed food and beverages available from the café/bar inside the giant projection environment.

“Life is about experiences and the more you experience, the more you understand life - and the better yours will be!”, he adds.

Michael Rodrigues - NSW inaugural 24 Hour economy Commissioner & former MD, Time Out

Mike believes in the inspirational power of cities and spends a good amount of time encouraging anyone in his orbit to get out of the house, to know their city and to have more fun.

While working as a lawyer in the Middle East, he spotted an opportunity to launch global lifestyle brand Time Out in Sydney in 2007 to achieve these aims. In 15 years at the helm of Time Out Australia he has grew the brand across print, digital, event and social channels, which now reaches 1,000,000 Australians monthly. He also co-founded the Time Out Bar Awards and the Time Out Food Awards. Time Out’s contribution to our cities was recently recognised in 2020 when Time Out was awarded the Mumbrella Publish Awards Publishing Company of the Year, and Mike himself was awarded Publish Leader of the Year.

Since 2017 and prompted by the challenges facing Sydney's night time economy, Mike has focussed his efforts on aligning and empowering industry to actively engage in the political process in order to effect change. This saw him take a leading role in launching an independent bars association for Sydney in May 2018, followed by the launch of a Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) in November 2018 of which he was the inaugural Chair. The NTIA was at the forefront of the development of the NSW Government strategy for a 24-Hour Economy, and in February Mike was announced as the State of NSW’s first 24 Hour Economy Commissioner, a role that commenced formally on 29 March 2021.

Mike is also co-host of leading hospitality podcast Back of House, a board member of UNSW Art & Design’s advisory council and a board member of Torrens University Hospitality advisory council.