Company Profile: George P. Johnson
Paul Kenny is no stranger to expos having first worked at Brisbane’s World Expo in 1988 on the NSW pavilion and then later at the Australian pavilions in Hanover in 2000 and Aichi in 2005 as the Managing Director of Jack Morton Worldwide. He spoke to Sophie Loras about his expo experience.
Executive Director, George P Johnson
How is this Expo different from other expos you have worked on before?
Well it’s China!
Every Expo has its own personality and evolution. In one sense it is like an Olympic Games in that there is consistency from one games to the next but the organisers and the locals give it a personality of its own. It’s also a case of working within the rules and regulations of the organising country and there are obviously big differences between Germany and Japan and China.
What is the same is that all the participating countries want to put their best foot forward and there is an esprit de corps between the countries all trying to do something new together but at the same time being in competition to be the best.
What have been the highlights so far?
It was wonderful during the site visit by President Hu slot machines Jintao to the Australian pavilion to see the energising that put on the faces of our Chinese team. How motivated and excited they were to have their president see them in their work place was fantastic and just great for Australia too. Also from a selfish point of view, Shanghai is an extraordinary city with an ability to keep things moving and happening blackjack for real money and it is intoxicating to be part of that and I believe our artists will be turbocharged by that environment.
What have been the challenges?
With any big project like this there are a lot of challenges around logistical realities such as visas, accommodation and expenses and there is a mountain of that kind of work still to do but one of the other big challenges has been whittling down all the many wonderful artists to meet the budget and have everything ready on time.
What are you most looking forward to when Expo finally opens in May?
It is not normal for a country to present humour as part of their cultural programme but we have the Umbilical Brothers lined up and they are the kind of wet-yourself-laughter that transcends all languages. I’m looking forward to seeing the faces of the Chinese audiences and the emotional connection they make with the energy and humour of the performers. ■