Queensland Ballet Reception
Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services and Minister for Women, the Honourable Shannon Fentiman MP; Minister for Education, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Racing, the Honourable Grace Grace MP; Queensland Ballet Artistic Director, Mr Li Cunxin AO; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the Traditional Owners of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and to any First Nations people with us this evening.
As Queensland Ballet patron, I was very pleased when company Chairman, Brett Clark, approached me about the possibility of hosting a reception in support of the company.
I was delighted to accede to his request because it not only gives me the opportunity to recognise Li Cunxin for his contribution as Artistic Director over the past 11 years but enables me to publicly acknowledge and thank the visionary donors, committed organisations and key individuals who have been vital to the company’s success during Li’s tenure.
As we have all witnessed, Li’s years with Queensland Ballet have been characterised by the same drive and determination that propelled him from childhood poverty in rural China to international fame as a dancer and author.
They have also revealed the same entrepreneurial spirit that led to his decision to pursue a career as a stockbroker when he retired as a dancer – and to his recent recognition as The Courier Mail’s Business Person of the Year in the 2023 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards.
We’ve seen Li combine that business savvy with his trademark vision and passion in countless ways since 2012.
- in the magnificent, re-imagined Thomas Dixon Centre in West End;
- in the state-of-the-art facility for the Queensland Ballet Academy in Kelvin Grove;
- in the new production hub in Pimpama; in the first-class company of dancers he has created;
- in the exceptional productions he has brought to Brisbane and taken to the world;
- in the impressive number of Creative Industries jobs he has been responsible for;
- in the 144 million dollars that have been brought into Queensland in investment during his tenure – and we have watched in awe as all this was achieved despite the severe restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Like the legendary Russian ballet impresario, Serge Diaghilev a century ago, it’s very clear that Li’s vocabulary simply does not include the word “impossible”.
It’s equally clear that “retirement” is not yet a concept that Li and Mary are fully comfortable with.
While Li has admitted to mixed feelings, I’m sure I speak for everyone here in saying that I trust they will enjoy the freedom from the day-to-day demands of running the company, away from the intense scrutiny of public life.
With the annual Nutcracker season opening in a month’s time and the company’s 2024 program launched just a week ago, it’s a very exciting time for the company and everyone associated with it.
I look forward to the announcement of Li’s successor and wish the Company well as it prepares to welcome its sixth Artistic Director.