The Board and team at Te Ahurei Toi o Tāmaki / Auckland Arts Festival (AAF) are delighted to announce the appointment of Robbie Macrae as the new Kaiwhakahaere Matua / Chief Executive (CE). He will be taking over from longtime CE David Inns, who announced his retirement at the end of February 2022.
“Robbie is a veteran of our sector and a leader many have worked with and respect,” says AAF Trust Board Chair, John Judge. “After nearly two decades as director of Auckland Live (formerly THE EDGE), we are thrilled that Robbie will bring his expertise of live arts and entertainment in Tāmaki Makaurau to AAF. He led the growth of the largest performing arts platform in Aotearoa, home to some of the country’s most iconic theatres and favourite festival performance spaces like The Civic, the Aotea Centre, and the Auckland Town Hall. Robbie is no stranger to the Festival and we have the utmost confidence in his capability to understand the intricacies of its vast multi-arts and world-class programming. We can’t wait to see where he leads AAF into the future.”
Robbie’s background is a treasure trove of international arts experience including management at Arts Centre Melbourne, Opera Australia, and Perth Theatre Trust, alongside broader commercial stints prior to his appointment at THE EDGE in 2003 where he began as the Director of Theatre Programming and Development. After just a few short years, Robbie became its Director of Performing Arts and was instrumental in the rebrand of the organisation to become Auckland Live within the Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA) umbrella in 2014. He also added Director of Auckland Conventions, Venues & Events to his responsibilities in 2018 and took up Interim Director of Entertainment and Events for Auckland Unlimited during the 2021 merger of RFA and Auckland Tourism, Events, and Economic Development (ATEED).
While at Auckland Live, Robbie and his team of 170 full time/350 casual staff held over 2,200 events a year with more than 1.5 million visitors. He led partnerships with a range of major NZ presenting companies, successfully developed and delivered the refurbishment of the Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre and Aotea Centre, and grew revenue by more than 100%, amongst other achievements. Alongside driving vital commercial objectives, Robbie maintained an ethos and vision that ensured artists and audiences were at the centre of all strategy and implementation. Something that will continue to guide him as he transitions to his new role with AAF.
“Passion is at the heart of what I do and why I have an unwavering commitment to the arts – we make magic happen,” says Robbie. “I’ve had a long relationship with AAF – first when it was biennial and more recently when it became a respected and pivotal annual event on the Auckland and NZ arts calendar, as well as on the international festival scene. We so looked forward to welcoming the Festival and its incredible artists to our spaces at Auckland Live – watching the Square and theatre lobbies light up with eager and satisfied faces of audiences who came from all over to experience incredible programming. I’m ready to hit the ground running and join ‘the other side’ in this next venture.”
Robbie will commence as CE of AAF early August 2022.