Report to the Community 2011 - Page 6

Artistic Director’s Statement I am very proud to note that Melbourne Festival is in extraordinarily good health – financially and artistically – as this Report indicates. economic enterprises, particularly in the arts sector. So I thank our artists, our stakeholders, the people of Melbourne, and the Festival team for helping us achieve these record results. In The Age newspaper’s wrap-up of the 2011 Festival under the headline ‘Melbourne Festival Hits its Highest Note in Years’, the Festival themes of protest, politics and revolution were noted. These proved to be particularly prescient, with the Arab Spring being followed by the world-wide Occupy movement, which saw the Melbourne protestors setting up camp around one of the Angels-Demons in City Square. The 2011 program again saw record gross box office and the highest audience engagement in the Festival’s history, all aided by the largest public art project ever undertaken in Melbourne’s CBD – AngelsDemons.Parade, along with the ‘son et lumiere’ Cacophony. These achievements are astonishing given the ongoing Global Financial Crisis and the fragility of all On a personal note, I was especially proud that we enabled the first presentation, anywhere in the world, of a contemporary theatre production from the People’s Republic of China (the Rhinoceros in Love tour), and the first collaboration between two iconic Victorian organizations – Chunky Move and Victorian Opera – with Assembly which, along with our presentation of Back to Back Theatre’s Ganesh Versus the Third Reich, swept the 2011 Victorian Green Room Awards. We also had the unique opportunity to feature some of Melbourne’s finest artistic talent as we presented the cultural program of the 5th World Summit on Arts and Culture. Other much-lauded productions included Hedda Gabler by the Schaubühne, Political Mother by Hofesh Shechter Company, The Manganiyar Seduction from India, the home-grown multi-national Page 6 Oratorio KURSK, the world premiere of Australian National Academy of Music’s purpose-built acoustic venue Quartethaus, and the final instalment during my tenure of our international collaborations with The Black Arm Band, as they were joined in the Sidney Myer Music Bowl by singing legends Joss Stone, Mavis Staples, Rickie Lee Jones, Emmanuel Jal, Paul Dempsey and Archie Roach to name but a few. As I remarked last year, the Festival continues to ‘punch above its weight’ mightily 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. Its constant evolution from strength to strength is something of which all associated with it can be immensely proud. Brett Sheehy AO