Publishing entrepreneur and philanthropist Maureen Wheeler AO has been appointed President of the Melbourne Festival Board, in an announcement by Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley. Ms Wheeler succeeds the Hon Linda Dessau AM, who was sworn in as Victoria’s first female Governor on 1 July 2015.
“Maureen Wheeler will be a fantastic President of the Melbourne Festival Board. She has been a major contributor to cultural and community life here in Victoria, and her experience will steer the festival to new heights,” said Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley. “Melbourne Festival is one of our cultural and creative gems. It celebrates our arts and helps to secure Victoria as the events capital of Australia, attracting tourists from across the globe.”
Maureen is best known as the co-founder of publisher Lonely Planet with her husband, Tony. It became the world’s largest travel publishing company before its sale in 2007. The Wheelers were instrumental in the development of Melbourne’s literary hub, The Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas, which opened in 2010 and was a key element in Melbourne’s recognition as a UNESCO City of Literature.
Ms Wheeler is a director on the boards of Melbourne Theatre Company and Text Publishing, and has been a member of the Council of Governors of Opera Australia’s Capital Fund and the board of Opera Melbourne. As the principal patron of Opera Australia’s Ring Cycle, she played a pivotal role in bringing the epic operas to Melbourne in 2013.
In 2014 Ms Wheeler was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to business and commerce as a publisher of travel guides, and as a benefactor to Australian arts and aid organisations.
“I’m excited to be joining the Melbourne Festival team,” says Ms Wheeler. “The festival is a highlight of our city’s cultural calendar and its events allow people to experience the weird, the wonderful, the popular and the obscure from all over the world.”
Ms Wheeler will oversee an arts festival that presents a program of events by talented international and Australian artists across dance, theatre, music, visual arts and multimedia for 18 days each October. In 2015, the Melbourne Festival will celebrate its 30th anniversary.
The 2015 Melbourne Festival runs from 8 – 25 October with the full program announced on 4 August. For more information, visit: www.melbournefestival.com.au for details.
Image: Maureen Wheeler AO (supplied)