Bruce McKinven’s career in the performing arts spans over 25 years. As both Set and Costume Designer he works across the fields of theatre, dance, festivals, events and film, and has designed for many of Australia’s leading theatre and dance companies, arts festivals and independent artists.
He informally trained as a design assistant under Brisbane based Designers Dale Ferguson (Resident Designer Queensland Theatre Company 1989 – 1994) and Bill Haycock, whilst completing a degree in Visual Arts at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), followed by the Production Design course at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA).
Since graduating NIDA in 1997, Bruce has worked around Australia designing for theatre directors Neil Armfield, John Bell, Michael Gow, Marion Potts, Wesley Enoch, Kate Cherry, Mel Cantwell, Adam Mitchell, Jon Halpin, Adam Cook, David Fenton, Kate Gaul and Leah Purcell; for companies including Company B Belvoir, Bell Shakespeare, Sydney Theatre Company, Australian Theatre for Young People, Griffin Theatre Company, Hothouse Theatre, La Boite, Jute Theatre, Perth Theatre Company, Queensland University of Technology, University of Southern Queensland, State Theatre Company of South Australia, Black Swan State Theatre Company, and over 20 productions for Queensland Theatre Company. Most recently he designed Clinton the Musical and Next to Normal for Black Swan, both directed by Adam Mitchell, and Quartet for Queensland Theatre Company.
In youth theatre, Bruce has worked closely with Goat Track Theatre in South East Queensland for the last four years, designing the sets for five of their recent productions with Director Andrew Wright.
Bruce has designed contemporary dance productions since 1998, when he first worked with Expressions Dance Company (EDC), and current Artistic Director Natalie Weir. His successful collaboration with EDC has seen him design numerous productions for them since, including Where the Heart Is (2011 Helpmann Award for Best Dance, 2011 Australian Dance Award for Outstanding Work by a Company), R&J (2012 Australian Dance Award for Best Choreography) and The Red Shoes, and collaborating with Natalie for other companies including ADT, Tasdance, Brisbane Festival and costumes for Four Seasons for Singapore Dance Theatre. Bruce has also designed for Kate Champion’s Age I’m In at Force Majeure (costumes), Garry Stewart at Australian Dance Theatre, Raewyn Hill at DanceNorth, Michael Whaites for LINK Dance Company, Queensland Ballet, WA Ballet, Brian Lucas, Prying Eye and Barry Moreland. In the independent sector, Bruce has developed a close working relationship with Brisbane Choreographer Clare Dyson, collaborating together on Absence(s), Being There, and Voyeur, which also toured to Houston Texas in 2010. He has also worked closely with Lisa Wilson on Elbow Room, Lake, and (in development) Wireless. In 2014 Bruce designed the ballet Don Quixote for Singapore Dance Theatre, working with internationally famed dancer Cynthia Harvey as Director.
Since 1994 he has developed a strong relationship with Adelaide Festival of Arts, working in numerous roles over the years, most recently as Designer and Site Co-ordinator for the 2012 – 2018 Adelaide Writers’ Week. During this collaboration with Artistic Director Laura Kroetsch, Adelaide Writers’ Week has won Coates Hire Best Community Event at the 2015 Australian Event Awards, as well as Best Community or Regional Impact over $100,000 award at the 10th annual Ruby Awards. For Brisbane Festival, Bruce was Festival Designer in 2009, and in 2012 designed Dance Energy, a unique collaboration with the three Queensland based dance companies EDC, Dancenorth and Queensland Ballet, choreographed by Natalie Weir, Raewyn Hill, Gareth Belling and UK based Cameron McMillan. For Perth Festival, Bruce designed The Somerville Film Auditorium and Foyer at University of WA, and been employed as props buyer on various productions. In 2016 he was appointed Senior Designer for Dark Mofo Festival in Hobart, designing Winter Feast, and various other venues for the festival. Also in 2016, Bruce designed the Christmas Decorations for Adelaide’s Rundle Mall.
Film credits include costume design for Leah Purcell’s Aunty Maggie and the Womba Wakgun.
For the last 7 years Bruce has been a sessional Design Lecturer at Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), working with the third year Design students.
In 2001, Bruce was awarded The Mike Walsh Fellowship, enabling him to work with Dublin dance company Cois Ceim, and was part of the design team for Helix that was awarded Outstanding Achievement in Design / Composition at the WA Dance Awards in 2011, for which he designed the costumes.