J E N N A R O B E R T S O N
ARTS LEADER | ARTIST/PERFORMANCE MAKER
BIOGRAPHY - ARTS LEADER
Artistic Director | Artist/Performance Maker
Curator | Creative Producer | Mentor | Writer
One of Queensland's most exciting artists and a bold independent arts leader working across Australia, Scottish-Australian Jenna Robertson is based on Yugambeh country (Gold Coast Hinterland). Her practice spans opera performance, creator of new multi art form works for stage and screen and creative producing of large-scale, community-engaged and socially-engaged opera projects. Jenna is also a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University, a Board Member of national peak body PAC Australia, a 2021 Australia Council for the Arts Future Leader and a reviewer and writer for The Music Trust (LoudMouth E-Zine).
As a soprano, Jenna has performed fourteen leading operatic roles and has appeared as soloist with Festivals and orchestras Australia-wide. See performance biography and CV for details. Her background also includes award-winning, industry leading work in the resources sector including international leadership experience and training; skills she now uses in the arts to work with diverse stakeholders and collaborators in the arts to create, curate and produce complex and large-scale projects.
Most recently, Jenna has curated and produced La traviata: a community-engaged opera project in Western Australia exploring end of life and proposing new ways of producing grand opera in regional areas that maximise community outcomes (2021).
Robertson's work as a maker and storyteller leverages diverse knowledge and vulnerability to change perceptions and inspire individual action on complex issues. Her works include Spirit Orphan: a ground-breaking chamber opera and film in development exploring her recovery from bushfire evacuation through a deep exploration of migrant identity (creator, co-librettist and performer) and Return to Planet Earth: a multi-media work created for World Science Festival Brisbane 2021 exploring the relationship between our humanity, Earth and the Universe (co-creator, writer and narrator). A short film, Spirit Orphan, written and produced by Jenna in 2020 and directed by her frequent collaborator Salvador Cantellano has been awarded internationally (2021 Independent Shorts Awards, Los Angeles, USA - Silver Award Best Women Short, 2021 London Shorts Festival - Best Documentary Short, Nominee for Best Documentary Short at Indie Short Fest, Los Angeles, USA 2021 and and Official Selection at the Gold Coast Film Festival, SIPFest 2021).
Jenna was one of thirty selected globally for the inaugural Beth Morrison Projects 2020 Producer Academy (global leaders in contemporary opera producing, New York, USA). and was a Generate GC (Situate - Art in Festivals) artist from 2019-2020, receiving mentoring support in the creation of new work from Australia's top independent artists. Other training includes dance theatre making with Danielle Micich and Ghenoa Gela in Force Majeure, Sydney, 2020 INCITE Masterclass and the NIDA Open Directors Studio (Stage & Film) in Sydney in 2017.
She was Creative Producer and Principal Artist of The Opera Gala for the 2019 Albany Arts Festival, a bespoke operatic gala combining international, interstate, local artists and community participation. In 2019, Jenna worked in the Programming team for the Queensland Music Festival on Opera at Jimbour and with Festival Directors on improving outcome reporting.
In 2011, Jenna was a founding member of opera company, OperaBox, in Perth, WA. From 2014, in addition to Chair of the Board and Producer positions, she took a leading role in the Artistic Directorship and growth of the company, solidifying OperaBox as “an innovative and professional contributor to the WA opera scene” (Noted, 2016). Through her programming leadership “Robertson made a significant contribution to broadening the operatic repertoire for WA audiences” (Limelight Magazine, 2017).
Jenna has a passion for mentoring artists and emerging arts leaders, and inspiring them to be the best they can be. Her mentees range from instrumentalists to singers to contemporary visual artists.
Jenna is also a chartered Chemical Engineer. Before choosing full-time work in the arts in 2015, she worked part-time in the arts while also working for a decade internationally in the resource sector. There she developed her strength in leading people to deliver large and complex projects. Jenna won some of the most prestigious industry awards (CME Women in Resources Awards, Salters Institute Awards) and is a graduate of Chevron’s international Emerging Leaders Program. Jenna graduated from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh with an MEng in Chemical Engineering and received a Music Scholarship for the duration of her studies providing tuition and performance experience.
Notable Training Programs
2021 Australia Council for the Arts Future Leaders Program
2020 Producer Academy, Beth Morrison Projects, New York, USA (Global leaders in contemporary opera producing and touring)
2020 Cultural Awareness & Truth Telling, The Wellbeing Connexion, Melbourne. 7 weeks immersive training in the history of colonisation of Australia and continued impacts on indigenous people through to today.
2020 Force Majeure INCITE Masterclass in their dance theatre making methodologies.
2019 Generate GC, Artist Labs. 2 x immersive labs with some of Australia' s most successful independent artists sharing their practice as part of the Generate GC program.
2017 Directors Studio (NIDA Open), National Institute for Dramatic Arts, Sydney.
To read her performance biography, click here.