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Melbourne Festival to seek new artistic director for 2020

Richard Watts

The current Artistic Director of Melbourne Festival, Jonathan Holloway, will step down from the role after completing his fourth festival in 2019.
Melbourne Festival to seek new artistic director for 2020

Photo credit: Sarah Walker

Jonathan Holloway is to step down as Artistic Director of Melbourne Festival at the end of his fourth festival in 2019.

The move comes despite Holloway’s contact, at the time of his original appointment, being open-ended rather than the usual fixed term of three to four years which is the norm for Australian festivals.

As Maureen Wheeler, Melbourne Festival Chair, told ArtsHub in 2017: ‘The Board made the decision on the basis that an open ended term would mean that Jonathan and the Festival team could undertake ambitious long-lead commissions and collaborations, and could build relationships in the city without the constraints of a time limit.’


Holloway, who will return to Europe after eight years in Australia, said: ‘Whilst Melbourne is an endlessly exciting and inspiring city, by the end of next year, I will have directed four festivals here and four on the west coast. This seems like a perfect moment for me to make the decision, giving the Festival Board and team plenty of time to think about succession planning.’

Read: Ditch the director!

The search for a new Artistic Director will begin this year, in order to ensure a smooth transition for Holloway’s successor. 

‘After the highly acclaimed 2017 Festival, the Board is delighted that Jonathan will continue to build the Melbourne Festival into the most stimulating and engaging event in Australia through 2019,’ Wheeler said today in a statement. 'Announcing the change now allows the Board more than enough time to find the next brilliant artistic leader for the festival.'

Details of the recruitment process for Holloway’s successor will be announced in due course.

The 2018 Melbourne Festival runs from 3-21 October. The full program, Holloway’s third, will be announced on Wednesday 25 July.

About the author

Richard Watts is ArtsHub's Performing Arts Editor and Team Leader, Editorial; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on community radio station Three Triple R.

The founder of the Emerging Writers' Festival, Richard currently serves on the board of literary journal Going Down Swinging and on the Committee of Management for La Mama Theatre. He is a former member of the Green Room Awards Independent Theatre panel, a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and in 2017 was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Festival Living Legend.

Follow Richard on Twitter: @richardthewatts