Co-Artistic Directors Announced for Melbourne’s New Festival

MF Hannah Fox and Gideon ObarzanekLauded artist, curator and festival director Hannah Fox and acclaimed director and choreographer Gideon Obarzanek have been announced as the co-artistic directors of Melbourne’s new festival from 2020-2023. Fox and Obarzanek jointly applied to curate Victoria’s largest cultural event, with the inaugural festival running from 20 August to 6 September 2020.

“The new festival will be of global significance and distinctly Melbourne, reflecting the creativity and culture of our city,” said Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley. “The festival will be shaped by two boundary-pushing and globally connected homegrown talents. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us.”

“After a global search, we are thrilled to have two internationally admired and respected artistic leaders guiding our vision for Melbourne’s new cultural festival and major event,” said Chair of Melbourne International Arts Festival, Tim Orton. “That Hannah and Gideon are both Melburnians emphasises our city’s incredible contribution to culture.”

Currently Associate Creative Director at Dark Mofo and involved since its inception, Fox’s focus on sound art, large-scale public art, contemporary music and live art has seen her move from painting hundreds of sheep for Latitude Festival in the UK, to choreographing cranes for a vast car stunt show and collaborating with Banksy and Jane’s Addiction on a performance intervention.

As co-director of creative services company Supple Fox, she curated the contemporary music program at Melbourne International Arts Festival from 2009 – 2012, and recently devised Siren Song – a major outdoor sonic artwork that fills the skies of a city – in collaboration with Byron Scullin and Tom Supple, which continues to be remounted in cities around the world.

Obarzanek founded dance company Chunky Move in 1995 and was CEO and Artistic Director until 2012. His works have been performed in many festivals and theatres around the world including Edinburgh International, BAM Next Wave NY, Venice Dance Biennale, Southbank London and all major Australian performing arts festivals.

He was Artistic Associate with the Melbourne International Arts Festival from 2015-17, co-curator for XO State at the inaugural Asia Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts (Asia TOPA) from 2015-17, and his recent creations include There’s Definitely a Prince Involved for the Australian Ballet, L’Chaim for the Sydney Dance Company, Two Jews Walk into a Theatre for Melbourne & Adelaide Festivals and Stuck in the Middle With You the first Virtual Reality film commissioned by the Australian Centre of Moving Image.

“We are honoured to have the opportunity to rethink what a festival can be in a major city and especially this city,” said Fox. “Gideon and I share the mission to make a festival that marks each passing year with a large-scale ceremony specific to Melbourne, bringing people out of their homes and into proximity to each other to experience art that really shifts the status quo, even for a fleeting moment.”

“Melbourne’s new festival will be the crucible for diverse histories, communities and ideas to come together and define what it means to be in the here and now,” said Obarzanek. “I am thrilled to be working with Hannah and the rest of the team to create this extraordinary event that will both reflect and inspire this unique city.”

Fox and Obarzanek will join Executive Director, Kath Mainland and a diverse creative team of specialists to deliver a bold, global festival. With commissioned and world-first collaborations between local and international artists, a distinct program of visual and performing arts productions, and large-scale public events, it will celebrate Melbourne’s cultural, creative and culinary strengths. More details on the festival, including its name, will be announced late in 2019.

The 2019 Melbourne International Arts Festival runs 2 – 20 October. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Hannah Fox and Gideon Obarzanek (supplied)