As the 2011 Perth International Arts Festival draws to a close, the Festival farewells Artistic Director Shelagh Magadza.

Shelagh’s ambition to take the Festival experience to as many people as possible has seen paid attendance grow to 180,000 in the first year, up from 152,000 the year prior and finishing at a forecast of 200,000 for 2011. Box office has grown from $3.2 million in 2008, on track to reach the box office target of $4.7 million in 2011.

Shelagh’s passion for promoting Australian works and talent saw two world premieres in Perth from WA companies become the 2011 festival’s biggest box office successes. Yirra Yaakin’s Waltzing the Wilarra and Black Swan State Theatre Company’s Boundary Street (a Festival co-commission with Brisbane Festival and Black Swan) sold out completely, with Boundary Street running until 20 March.

The Perth Writers Festival was firmly established on the campus of The University of Western Australia during Shelagh’s time at the Festival. This year provided some of the brightest thinkers in the world speaking on the biggest issues of our time, including climate change and the nature of democracy.

Perth Festival General Manager Julian Donaldson said: “Bold and imaginative artistic leadership, an appetite for risk and a steadfast eye on the community the Festival serves have been hallmarks of Shelagh’s extraordinary and successful festivals.”

Shelagh is succeeded by Jonathan Holloway, who is Artistic Director for 2012-15.

“This Festival is a rich and vital part of life in Perth and it is a testament to the important role the arts can play in our lives,” Shelagh said. “Perth has gained an international reputation as the host city for such an important festival and we should all be proud to have contributed to its ongoing success. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity the last four Festivals have afforded me and to the hundreds of artists who have brought each festival to life, leaving us with the most precious of memories. I wish my successor Jonathan Holloway all the best for his term as Artistic Director. I would also like to acknowledge and thank Julian Donaldson and the entire Festival team for the tremendous skill and passion they bring to ensure that this Festival remains one of the best in the world.”


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