Bruce McKinven’s career as Set, Costume and Event Designer spans 30 years, working across the fields of theatre, dance, festivals, events and film. He has designed for many of Australia’s leading theatre and dance companies, arts festivals and independent artists.
+ Senior Site Designer for DarkLab, the Hobart based company responsible for producing Dark Mofo [since 2016]
+ Site Designer for Adelaide Festival’s Adelaide Writers’ Week [since 2012]
+ Sessional Lecturer at Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) in 3rd Year Design [since 2011]
Bruce 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), graduating 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, Clare Watson, Jon Halpin, 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.
In youth theatre, Bruce has worked closely with Goat Track Theatre in South East Queensland for the last four years, designing the sets for six of their recent productions with Director Andrew Wright.
Bruce has also worked extensively in contemporary dance. For Expressions Dance Company and Natalie Weir, he designed The Red Shoes, 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 Jigsaw. He collaborated with Natalie for other companies including Australian Dance Theatre, Tasdance, Brisbane Festival and costumes for Four Seasons for Singapore Dance Theatre.
Bruce has also worked with Kate Champion for Force Majeure designing costumes for Age I’m In, Garry Stewart for Australian Dance Theatre, Raewyn Hill for DanceNorth, Michael Whaites for LINK Dance Company, Queensland Ballet, WA Ballet, Brian Lucas, Prying Eye, Barry Moreland and Lisa Wilson.
Bruce has developed a close working relationship with Clare Dyson, collaborating together on Absence(s), Being There, and Voyeur, which also toured to Houston Texas in 2010.
He designed costumes for Daryl Brandwood’s Helix (Outstanding Achievement in Design / Composition, 2011 WA Dance Awards).
In 2014 Bruce designed the ballet Don Quixote for Singapore Dance Theatre, working with internationally famed dancer Cynthia Harvey as Director, and in 2019 Bruce designed Sunset, an immersive dance theatre work by Director Maxine Doyle (Punchdrunk, UK) and Strut Dance presented by Perth Festival.
Since 1994 Bruce has developed a strong relationship with Adelaide Festival of Arts, working in numerous roles over the years. Since 2012 he has been the Site Designer and Site Co-ordinator for Adelaide Writers’ Week, working with Artistic Director Laura Kroetsch (2012-2018) and Jo Dyer (2019-current). In 2015 AWW won Coates Hire Best Community Event at the Australian Event Awards, as well as Best Community or Regional Impact over $100,000 award at South Australia’s 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 venue at UWA (2013-current), and was Festival Designer in 2020 designing many of their events including the large outdoor music venue City of Lights.
In 2016 he was appointed Senior Designer for Dark Mofo Festival in Hobart, designing Winter Feast, Nightmass, Dark and Dangerous Thoughts, Dark Bar, MAC2 music venue and various other event spaces /activations for the festival. For parent company DarkLab, Bruce collaborated with Creative Director Leigh Carmichael to design the entertainment and dining precinct In the Hanging Garden, opening in November 2019.
Bruce designed the Christmas Decorations for Adelaide’s Rundle Mall in 2016.
Film credits include costume design for Leah Purcell’s Aunty Maggie and the Womba Wakgun.