Shepparton Festival’s new direction raises the culture stakes

As one of Australia’s major regional arts festivals, Shepparton Festival is building on its multicultural heritage and demographical changes to offer some bold new programming initiatives.
¡Ópera Española! Shepparton Festival Image supplied

Kristen Retallick was appointed as the new Artistic Director of the Shepparton Festival in August 2022, with a brief of creating a program for the 17-day 2023 festival, scheduled from 17 March to 2 April.  Subsequently, this relatively tight time-frame was made even more difficult when floods hit the region in October 2022.  

Retallick, who lives 30 minutes north of the city and was physically cut off for several weeks during the floods, somehow managed to pull together a program, based strongly on local community involvement and responding to what was possible and practical in the region. Flexibility was a key to decision-making and Retallick, herself a visual artist, decided not to theme her festival, but rather to ask the community to explore their own concepts, which produced some interesting results.

Unlock Padlock Icon

Unlock this content?

Access this content and more

Suzannah Conway is ArtsHub's Brisbane-based Arts Feature Writer. Suzannah is an experienced arts administrator, having been CEO of Opera Queensland, the Brisbane Riverfestival and the Centenary of Federation celebrations for Queensland. She has been writing reviews and music articles for over 15 years and regularly reviews classical music, opera and musical theatre in particular for The Australian and Limelight magazine as well as other journals.