Melbourne Festival has announced that Brett Sheehy has been re-appointed as Artistic Director for the 2012 Festival, taking his tenure to a four Festival term.

Festival President Carrillo Gantner, AO says, “I am really delighted that Brett has accepted the Board’s invitation to extend his term as Artistic Director for the 2012 Festival. Under his direction, the Festival has substantially increased its audience reach and box office dollars while presenting some of the most outstanding artists from around the world, as well as Australian works destined for the world stage. Brett’s programming abilities are of a high order – he brings great intelligence, passion and impeccable taste to the job. Melburnians and visitors who love the arts are the happy beneficiaries. With the Festival in Brett’s confident hands, the Board has time to focus on its strategic planning for the future so that we may enhance the reputation and economic strength of this city.”

Minister for the Arts Peter Batchelor said, “The Victorian Government welcomes Brett's continued presence at the helm of our flagship arts festival. This is a great move by the Festival and it reflects Brett's ability to continue to build on the success of his 2009 Festival, which was highly successful at the box office and delivered palpable enthusiasm and remarkable arts across the city.”

In his first year as Artistic Director, Brett Sheehy’s program delivered the highest ever box office takings and paid attendances in the Festival’s history.

His second, the 25th Melbourne Festival, opens Friday 8 October with a number of near capacity or sold out performances including the Australian premiere of Michael Clark Company’s come, been and gone; the Melbourne debut of the Akram Kahn Company with Vertical Road, John Cale’s When Past and Future Collide and Noises in My Head and Seven Songs to Leave Behind with Sinead O’Connor and the Black Arm Band.

Brett Sheehy says, “I’m thrilled with how my two Melbourne Festival programs to date have been received, and the prospect of building on that, and delivering great art to the people of Melbourne for a further two years, is an irresistible opportunity.”

Brett Sheehy is one of Australia’s most accomplished and acclaimed directors, producers and curators, and is the first person ever to be appointed to direct three of the five international arts festivals in Australia’s State capital cities. Previously, Brett has been Artistic Director of the Adelaide Festival (from 2005 to 2008), and Festival Director & Chief Executive of Sydney Festival (2002-2005) where he was also the Festival's Deputy Director (1995-2001).

The 2010 Festival boasts an unparalleled feast of music, dance, theatre, opera, multimedia, outdoor and visual arts events, from renowned and upcoming Australian and international companies and artists. This year’s Festival will feature 13 world and 14 Australian premiere works with projects varying widely in scale and content. Of the 909 artists presenting their work in the 2010 festival, 658 are Australian and 251 from overseas, with many of the international artists realising their Australian debuts. The Festival not only focuses on innovation and excellence but also accessibility and affordability, with an extensive program of free and low cost performances, installations and exhibitions.