Melbourne International Arts Festival

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Melbourne International Arts Festival
MIAF Brandmark BLK.png
Genre Major arts, theatre, music and cultural festival
Frequency Annually
Location(s) Melbourne, Australia
Years active 32
Inaugurated 1986
Participants 1,000 artists (2013)[1]
Attendance 416,547 (2013)[1]

Melbourne International Arts Festival (formerly Melbourne Festival) is a major international arts festival and a celebration of dance, theatre, music, circus, visual arts, multimedia, outdoor and free events held each October in a number of venues across Melbourne, Australia. Since 2016 the Artistic Director has been Jonathan Holloway.[2]


Melbourne International Arts Festival is an important event on the Australian cultural calendar. Each festival brings a range of dance, theatre, music, visual arts, multimedia and outdoor events from renowned and upcoming Australian and international companies and artists to Melbourne. It offers a wide variety of free family-friendly events.[3]

It was first established in 1986 by the Cain government as a sister festival of the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto and the Spoleto Festival USA held in Charleston, South Carolina. The festival changed its name from the Spoleto Festival Melbourne to the Melbourne International Festival of the Arts in 1990, became known as Melbourne International Arts Festival from 2003, then was simply referred to as Melbourne Festival before returning to Melbourne International Arts Festival in 2018.[4]

It has had a number of high-profile Artistic Directors including Clifford Hocking, Leo Schofield, Robyn Archer[1], Richard Wherrett, Jonathan Mills and Kristy Edmunds.[5]

The artistic director for the 2009–2012 festivals was Brett Sheehy. Previously, Sheehy has been artistic director of the Adelaide Festival of Arts (2006–2008), and Festival Director and Chief executive of Sydney Festival (2002–2005).[6]

In January 2012, Melbourne Festival announced the appointment of Josephine Ridge as creative director for the 2013 festival and beyond. Prior to her appointment Josephine was general manager, then executive director and co-CEO with four artistic directors at Sydney Festival. Josephine appointed several high-profile arts workers to her creative team, including Louise Neri (Creative Associate – Visual Arts) and Richard Tognetti (Creative Associate – Music).[7]

Melbourne Festival is one of the most significant festivals in Australia together with the Sydney Festival and the Adelaide Festival of Arts. As such, it hosts performances by established artistic companies as well as more independent acts. The 2006 Melbourne Festival hosted a production of Ngapartji Ngapartji with much of the dialogue in the Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal language.[8] Melbourne Festival premiered the universally critically acclaimed productions from The Black Arm Band, murundak in 2006, Hidden Republic in 2008 and dirtsong in 2009.[9][10] In 2015 the Australian Art Orchestra debuted Water Pushes Sand at the Festival. The piece merged Australian and Sichuanese folk musical styles and featured Zheng Sheng Li, a Sichuan Cheng Du ‘face changing’ dancer.[11]

Artistic Directors[edit]

Years Artistic Director
1986–88 Gian Carlo Menotti
1989–91 John Truscott AO
1992–93 Richard Wherrett AM
1994–96 Leo Schofield AM
1997 Clifford Hocking AM
1998–99 Sue Nattrass
2000–01 Jonathan Mills AO
2002–04 Robyn Archer AO
2005–08 Kristy Edmunds
2009–12 Brett Sheehy AO
2013–15 Josephine Ridge
2016–19[12] Jonathan Holloway

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "2013 Report to the Community". Melbourne International Festival of the Arts. 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  2. ^ "Melbourne Festival announces new Artistic Director – Federation Square". Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  3. ^ "Melbourne Festival, 04—22 October 2017". Melbourne Festival. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  4. ^ "History – Melbourne Writers Festival". Melbourne Writers Festival. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Subscribe to The Australian Newspaper home delivery, website, iPad, iPhone & Android apps". Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  6. ^ "Brett Sheehy AO – Melbourne Theatre Company". Melbourne Theatre Company. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  7. ^ "New creative director for festival". Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  8. ^ "ParlInfo – Search Results". Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  9. ^ "The Upstagers". theMusic. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  10. ^ "REVIEW: Black Arm Band Present DIRTSONG". Theatre Press. 2 September 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  11. ^ Pithie, Kristian. "Water Pushes Sand". ArtsHub Australia. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  12. ^