Melbourne Festival President Carrillo Gantner today announced the departure of Festival General Manager and Head of Programming, Vivia Hickman.

Vivia has been General Manager of Melbourne Festival for four years, overseeing the delivery of four Festivals to the people of Melbourne.

“After four years and four Festivals, I feel I have achieved all I set out to achieve when I took on this position. Over my term, the Festival has seen an 82% increase in box office, a 16% increase in sponsorship and a thrilling 120% increase in the Festival’s economic impact on Melbourne, all of which stands it in very good stead for the future,” Vivia said.

“Next year the Festival Board will undertake the process of appointing Brett Sheehy’s successor as Artistic Director for the 2013 Festival. I feel this is the perfect time to hand over the reins to a new CEO who will have the opportunity of seeing in, and working with, the next Artistic Director.

“I have very much enjoyed delivering two Festivals with Kristy Edmunds and two with Brett, and I am confident the Festival is now poised for a period of sustained success and growth,” Vivia added.

Carrillo said, “Working closely with two Artistic Directors, Vivia has overseen the revival of the Festival in the last four years. Over this period Festival audiences have grown 47% and box office 82%. The 2010 Festival this year had an audience of 503,000 people with box office takings of $2.7 million. Vivia has given great support to Artistic Director Brett Sheehy, assisting him with the very complex business of budgeting and scheduling of artists and venues. The Board thanks Vivia for her great contribution to the Festival during her years with us and wishes her well for her future career in the arts.”

Brett Sheehy said, “I am indebted to Vivia for her leadership of the Festival team during my first two Festivals, and additionally for taking on the responsibility of Head of Programming, through which she made an extraordinary contribution to the Festival’s artistic, financial and critical success over the past two years. I am, of course, very disappointed she is leaving, but I fully understand her wish to move on, and to allow her successor to embark on a new Festival era.”

Carrillo Gantner said that an executive search for a new Executive Director would begin early in the new year so that there would be continuity of operations and a smooth transition to the new team.