New Zealand arts administrator Jonathan Bielski was inspired to a life in the arts by an early experience performing in a school play. This led to a short career as a lighting designer in Bielski’s home province of Manawatū before making the move to producing and arts management.
Relocating to Auckland in 1994, Bielski worked in cinema exhibition management including time at the St James Theatre on Auckland’s Queen Street. In 1998 Bielski was appointed to a new role leading production and administration at the then newly named The Edge group of venues (now known as Auckland Live), which included The Civic theatre and Aotea Centre.
In 2002 Bielski was hired by Sydney Opera House to lead venue operations and relationships with the major arts companies who resided at the Opera House. In 2010 Bielski was appointed Director of Programming leading the Opera House’s strategy, administration and creative work across music, theatre, children & families, First Nations, education, dance and talks. During this time, the audiences and box office grew exponentially with a significant expansion of work by and for young people, education and the appointment of the first Head of Indigenous Programming at an Australian performing arts centre. Bielski was Interim Chief Executive of Sydney Opera House for six months in 2012.
Departing Sydney Opera House in August of 2015, Bielski spent time living in Europe before returning home to work with Auckland Theatre Company on the opening of the ASB Waterfront Theatre. In 2016 Bielski was appointed Artistic Director for Auckland Arts Festival 2018-2020. Bielski’s first festival, Auckland’s 10th, in March 2018 featured a residency by composer Max Richter, Akram Khan’s Giselle, five world premieres from Aotearoa artists and Cate Blanchett’s Manifesto resulting in the highest box office in the Festival’s history.
For his second festival, highlights included a world premiere by acclaimed New Zealand choreographer/dancer Ross McCormack titled As It Stands, the first presentation of a major European opera house in NZ with The Magic Flute by Berlin’s Komische Oper, a renewed commitment to te reo Māori called Toitū Te Reo and the Auckland premiere of Hofesh Shechter Company’s (UK) dance event Grand Finale.
Bielski will programme his final Auckland Arts Festival for March 2020.
Bielski is a current board member of Australia’s elite circus training school, the Flying Fruit Fly Circus. Previous industry leadership positions have included: Auckland Theatre Company (board), Live Performance Australia (board), Australian Live Performance Industry Council (member) and chairing the Theatre Nominations Panel of The Helpmann Awards.