Report to the Community 2010 - Page 4

Artistic Director’s Statement In 2009 we set out a Festival vision that focused on innovation, excellence, accessibility, affordability and the broadest possible engagement. In 2010 this vision was developed further in a program that explored mortality, spirituality, transition and transcendence. Traditional boundaries continued to morph and dissolve, there was a new raft of Australian debuts in the contemporary music program at the Forum and there was further interrogation of current dance-opera and a collision of visual imagery and technical wizardry. Among the pivotal events was the residency of British composer Thomas Adès, and The Black Arm Band continuing to expand its cultural reach with its first international collaboration, Seven Songs to Leave Behind, with Sinead O’Connor, John Cale, Meshell Ndegeocello and Ricki Lee Jones, performed before an audience of nearly 9000 people. In total, 1398 artists came together from 26 countries, in 56 events including 18 world premieres and 12 Australian premieres. It is important to note that much of the program was exclusive to our city, distinguishing Melbourne Festival as Australia’s ‘destination festival’ – for the nation and the region. We broke box office records for the Festival’s 25-year history, a record set in 2009, and did so in spite of the economic downturn, interest rate rises and other circumstances that might ordinarily affect audiences. The Festival continued to ‘punch above its weight’ in comparison with the international arts festivals of other Australian cities and has the second highest ratio of box office return to program budget in the nation, despite being fifth in size of program purchasing power. While this success is of course pleasing, it is what this says about the ongoing access to, and ownership of, Melbourne Fest