Adelaide Festival of Arts appoints Co-Artistic Directors

AF_Armfield and Healy_editorialThe South Australian Minister for the Arts, Jack Snelling has just announced that Neil Armfield AO and Rachel Healy have been appointed Co-Artistic Directors for the Adelaide Festival of Arts for 2017, 2018 and 2019. It will be the first time in the festival’s 55 year history that two people will share the role.

“It is a coup for Adelaide to have secured two of the most highly regarded arts leaders in Australia who I have no doubt will curate a series of rich and unique festival programs,” said Minister for the Arts, the Hon Jack Snelling.

“Rachel was born in Adelaide and Neil has worked in the Adelaide arts scene as well so it’s a homecoming of sorts. I am sure the arts community not just here in Adelaide but across the country and internationally will welcome their appointment as artistic directors to one of the world’s major celebrations of the arts.”

Multi-award winning director Neil Armfield AO is widely acknowledged as one of Australia’s greatest theatre, opera and film makers. His artistic reputation both nationally and internationally comes from an outstanding 40 year career that includes seventeen years as Artistic Director of Belvoir Street Theatre, where he spent almost a decade together with Rachel Healy building Australia’s most prominent theatre production house.

He recently won his 10th Helpmann Award as Best Director for Opera Australia’s Ring Cycle, and his theatre and opera works have regularly featured in previous Adelaide Festival of Arts programs.

Originally from Adelaide, Rachel is one of the country’s leading culture professionals with over 20 years’ experience in multiple art forms including theatre and ballet. Following her time at Belvoir, Rachel was Director of Performing Arts at the Sydney Opera House and more recently Executive Manager Culture at the City of Sydney where she led the development of the city’s first cultural policy and action plan, and was the driving force behind a comprehensive review of the live music scene.

“The memories of the great companies I saw in the Adelaide Festivals at the beginning of my professional life have informed my artistic practice to this day: Pina Bausch, The Rustaveli Theatre of Georgia, the Katona Jozef Company… Adelaide is the perfect city for this cultural feast and its festival remains amongst the finest in the world. Rachel and I look forward to making our contribution to an extraordinary history,” said Armfield.

“Growing up in Adelaide, the performances and artists presented at the Adelaide Festival revealed new and complex worlds to me, human behaviour at its most vile and its most generous; a richness of ideas both abstract and immediately relevant,” said Healy.

“The accumulation of those theatre experiences shaped my life in many ways, not least of which has been through a career dedicated to supporting artists and enlarging the cultural capital of cities. Iconic cultural events like the Adelaide Festival prove the catalytic impact the arts can have on the social, economic and intellectual confidence of a generation.”

“The city has changed since I left in 1994 and the festival’s frequency and environment has also evolved, but what hasn’t changed is the Adelaide Festival’s uncompromising standards and commitment to transformative arts experiences. Quite simply, it is home to the greatest artists in the world presenting their most resonant and energising work in a city almost customised in its size and character to allow a full immersion in the event. It is an extraordinary privilege to be part of its future.”

Armfield and Healy begin planning the 2017 Adelaide Festival of Arts immediately with a view to launching their first festival in late 2016. For more information visit: for details.

Image: Neil Armfield AO and Rachel Healy – photo by Tony Lewis