Melbourne Festival announces new Artistic Director

Jonathan Holloway_editorialMelbourne Festival has announced Jonathan Holloway as Artistic Director of the Festival from 2016. A theatre director, playwright, dramaturg, programmer and festival director, Holloway has been Artistic Director of the Perth International Arts Festival since 2012.

“The board of Melbourne Festival is thrilled to appoint someone of Jonathan’s experience and reputation,” says Festival President, Linda Dessau. “He brings an impressive record of success as a theatrical director and festival artistic director in the UK and more recently in Australia, together with an unbridled enthusiasm for Melbourne.”

“He has the proven capacity to excite a city with festival experiences that entertain, provoke and embrace the public. His passion is contagious, and is bound to inspire staff, supporters and audiences alike.”

Prior to Perth Festival, UK-­born Holloway spent six years as Artistic Director and Chief Executive of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival, during which time audiences increased tenfold and it became the third largest annual city arts festival in the UK. The Festival also embraced creative learning, working intensively with over 15,000 young people year round.

Jonathan was Creative Director of Elemental – a large-­scale theatre, music and spectacle event at Chalon-­sur-­Saône festival in France, and established and headed the National Theatre’s Events Department, playing a significant role in the cultural transformation of the National Theatre and London’s South Bank.

He was founding artistic director of Watch this Space (the National’s acclaimed annual festival of international outdoor theatre, music and spectacle) and co-­wrote/directed Robin Hood in the National’s Loft Theatre. Prior to this he was Resident Theatre Director of the Wilde Theatre in Bracknell (directing under the name Jack Holloway).

He has been Chair of Total Theatre Network (the national development agency for physical and visual theatre), on the Executive of the British Arts Festivals Association and is a fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts.

During Holloway’s tenure at Perth Festival, between 500,000 and one million people have engaged with the Festival each year. He has commissioned and presented artists including Ennio Morricone, the English National Opera, Lucinda Childs Dance Company, Philip Glass and The Berliner Ensemble.

Victoria’s Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley said: “Jonathan comes to Melbourne Festival  with an impressive track record, evident creative energy and a strong understanding of how festivals can impact our city’s people.”

“He comes to a city, and a state, that embraces the arts and creativity, loves its festivals and events, and thrives on ideas. It’s set to be a great combination and I look forward to seeing the kind of festival that results. Jonathan’s appointment is another plank in building Melbourne’s reputation as a creative industries hub.”

Of his appointment, Jonathan Holloway said: “I am deeply honoured and extremely excited to have been asked to artistically direct Melbourne Festival from 2016. Having spent my professional life as a director of theatre and festivals across two continents, cities continue to be – for me – the most diverse of stages… and as cities go, Melbourne is world class, intense and genuinely inspiring.

“The chance to tell the stories of Melbourne and to dig deep into the universal themes and the drivers of 21st century life is a truly great opportunity. I took this role because I am confident that Melbourne Festival is perfectly placed to unlock Australia’s cultural capital in every way.”

“I look forward to championing and enriching the artistic community of Victoria in as many ways as possible, and to ensuring that the Festival in Melbourne is vital, is loved and continues to flourish.”

Melbourne Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2015, with Artistic Director Josephine Ridge presenting her third Festival program from 8 – 25 October.

Holloway will move to Melbourne in April to begin work on programming the 2016 Melbourne Festival. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Jonathan Holloway – photo by Toni Wilkinson