Art Starts Here: 40 Years of Metro Arts

Metro Arts – an independent arts centre at the heart of Brisbane – is about to start a new chapter at its new home in West End. But this is just one of many changes this resilient organisation has made its own.

For 40 years, Metro Arts inhabited 109 Edward Street, a six-storey building built in 1889, which has served as warehouse for household goods, biscuits, hats, supplies during World War II and – later, government offices and, finally, Brisbane Community Arts Centre.

On the level that was once the Immigration Department, artists have created multilingual works. In the former drug squad HQ, ‘art’ has become indistinguishable from ‘party’. In the old Electoral Office, artists have voted again and again for their community – with their time, energy, resources and (when available) money. To be at 109 Edward Street wasn’t just to make art. It was to make mistakes, to mend and to make do.

No record can capture every moment – every coffee shared, every spark ignited, every alliance formed, every risk taken, every show rehearsed, exhibited or staged. But through the voices of over 40 Metro community members, Art Starts Here: 40 Years of Metro Arts charts the living history of Metro Arts, from its gutsy DIY beginnings to its bright future.

TITLE Art Starts Here: 40 Years of Metro Arts


RELEASE DATE 11 September, 2020

RRP $65


EDITED BY Zenobia Frost

DESIGNED BY Sean Dowling and Ashleigh Jacobsen

Wesley Enoch, Robert Hughes, Edwin Relf, Liz Burcham, Penny Everingham, Robert Kronk, Amy-Clare McCarthy, Gemma Smith, Josh Milani, Hannah Gartside & Autumn Royale, Nic Holas (Restaged Histories Project), Brian Lucas, Margi Brown Ash, Thom Browning (Imaginary Theatre), Younghee Park (Company Bad), Daniel Evans (The Good Room), Lafe Charlton & Roxanne McDonald, and Fraser Corfield. In addition, Meagan Streader and Vernon Ah Kee (among others) contribute their artwork.

Sue Benner, The Hon Ian Callinan, Robby Nason, Stephen Nothling, Jess Murphy, Daniel McKewen, Robert Andrew, Elise Greig, Michael Futcher (Matrix Theatre), David Morton (Dead Puppets Society), Lisa Fa’alafi & Leah Shelton (Polytoxic), Nasim Khosravi (Baran Theatre), and many more.


Metro Arts thanks the many interviewees and contributors who made this book possible by sharing their work and their memories.


Metro Arts is supported by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.
Metro Arts is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, part of the Department of Environment and Science.
Metro Arts is proudly supported by Brisbane City Council.