Farewell to creative visionary

Peter Lavery leaves wonderful legacy for Maleny’s arts community

By Mitch Gaynor

MALENY didn’t know how lucky it was about to get when in 2011 Peter David Lavery closed the curtain on his Brisbane life for the ‘cooler’ reaches of the Blackall Range.
The retired Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Emeritus Professor was about to bring his creative vision and expertise – borne from decades of acting, teaching, directing and delivering top-class metropolitan productions – to the hinterland.
With boundless energy and positivity, Peter did just that.
During his time with the Maleny Arts Council from 2014, including six years as President from 2018, audiences were treated to many fine theatre productions, musicals, symphonies, jazz and classical events.
These would not have been possible without Peter’s drive and peerless ability to enthuse, persuade and contribute.
As a member of the Maleny Community Centre Committee and Maleny Arts Council Committee, Peter had a knack for making things happen.
He was equally at home negotiating with production companies and artists as he was as a hall volunteer stacking chairs and working at the bar.
His sudden death on March 7 was a shock to the community.
Maleny Arts Council Vice-President, Claire Booth, said Peter was not only a friend, but a wonderful advocate for arts in the hinterland.
“He knew that culture was a vital thread to connect people and communities and that this mattered equally in a small town as it did in the city,” Claire said.
“Peter was a lovely, gentle man. He was terrific to work with – considered, positive and future-focussed.
“Maleny will be forever grateful for his contribution and the artistic sensibility he brought to our community.”
Well before throwing himself into his Maleny ‘retirement’, Peter had established himself as a passionate advocate for the Queensland arts sector.
Following studies in the United Kingdom, Peter returned to Australia to establish his theatre and academic career.
His very successful academic life at QUT spanned more than 30 years.
As head of both the Drama Department and the Academy of Arts, he was responsible for the development and programming of many of QUT’s cultural assets including Art Galleries, Theatres, Old Government House, and the high-spec digital media spaces in the Creative Industries Precinct and The Cube.
Peter was also centrally involved with the planning and design of the first stage of the Creative Industries Precinct at Kelvin Grove.
Appointed as Director of QUT Precincts in 2003 he oversaw the redevelopment of previously siloed cultural venues to create a vital creative hub focussed on education and public engagement.
Peter will be deeply missed by his wife Jacqueline, his children, grandchildren and extended family, as well as his vast array of friends, colleagues and past students across Australia and overseas.