Melbourne Festival is one of Australia’s premier arts events. Heralded for
its global reach and its importance to Australian and international artists,
the Festival’s program focuses on the contemporary trends in all art forms
and typically brings together over 700 artists each October in Melbourne.
The Festival has a diverse history that has consistently evolved to reflect and
stimulate the Australian arts scene, while providing audiences with direct
exposure to internationally acclaimed artists whose work would otherwise
not be seen in Australia. It also provides a platform for Australian work that
is strengthened creatively by the context of a major Festival and the Festival’s
ability to attract audiences who may not attend an independently produced
presentation. As such it occupies a prominent position within Australia’s
cultural events calendar.
The first Festival was staged in 1986 under the artistic direction of Gian Carlo
Menotti and was called the Spoleto Melbourne Festival. It emerged primarily
to occupy the newly constructed Victorian Arts Centre, and to ensure that
audiences had affordable access to the world’s outstanding productions on
their local stages. Subsequent Festivals have been created by an impressive
list of Artistic Directors including John Truscott AM, Richard Wherrett AM,
Leo Schofield AM, Clifford Hocking AM, Sue Natrass AO, Jonathan Mills,
Robyn Archer AO, Kristy Edmunds and, from 2009, Brett Sheehy.
Each Artistic Director brings to the Festival a unique artistic viewpoint that
generates spirited discussion and lively audience engagement over the course of
an appointed term. Each year the Festival has a new focus, stemming from each
Artistic Director’s particular curatorial approach, the visions of the selected
artists, community and stakeholder expectations and reactions, and financial
Melbourne Festival contributes significantly to the culture of Melbourne,
Victoria and Australia. It attracts significant investment from State and City
governments, and from the private sector. It presents a range of free and
low cost events, as well as paid performances, for the benefit of a wide and
The Festival operates in a sophisticated marketplace that offers many choices
of arts, cultural, community and sporting activities. These take place both on a
year-round and special event basis. Melbourne Festival is a hallmark event in the
State’s major event calendar.
The Festival program is delivered
“Record $2.7m box office take for Arts Festival.” The Age
through a wide range of public and
private venues and spaces. Each
Artistic Director selects venues
according to the character and needs of the particular Festival program for
the year. The Arts Centre is Victoria’s peak performing arts facility. The close
relationship between the Festival and the Arts Centre is of primary importance.
The CUB Malthouse is another performance hub for the Festival. In recent
years, the Festival has also made extensive use of Arts House Meat Market, the
Melbourne Recital Centre and other performing and visual arts venues.
The Festival is governed by a Board of Directors, currently chaired by Carrillo
Gantner AO. It operates with a full time staff of over 25 people across five
departments. Melbourne Festival is funded predominantly by the Victorian
Government. Other sources of income include the City of Melbourne,
philanthropic and private sector support, corporate sponsorship, box office,
international government support and merchandise sales.
Grupo Puja! – K@osmos
photo: John Sones
Melbourne Festival – Annual Report 2010