The Perth Festival (previously Perth International Arts Festival) is Australia's longest running cultural festival, held annually in Western Australia. The program features contemporary and classical music, dance, theatre, opera, visual arts, large-scale public works, Lotterywest Film Festival and the Perth Writers Festival. The festival runs every year from February to March, the Lotterywest Film Festival runs from November to April, and the Perth Writers Festival occurs in February. The artistic director from 2016 to 2019 is Wendy Martin. The current executive director is Nathan Bennett.
The festival was created in 1953 by the University of Western Australia, making it the oldest international arts festival in Australia, and the oldest annual international multi-arts festival in the southern hemisphere. Activities across the state include theatre, dance, music, film, visual arts and literature. Artists from around the world have participated in the festival.
The festival was founded by and has operated from the University of Western Australia Nedlands campus since 1953. The University of Western Australia further supports the festival through the provision of services and resources. Lotterywest has supported the festival financially since 1992.
The festival also relies on corporate sponsors and partnerships for funding, with new organisations becoming involved each year.
The array of corporate partners changes each year, however some partners have committed to long term sponsorship of the festival. The partners are separated into six distinct groups:
- Leadership partners
- Major Partners
- Public Funding Partners
- International Partners
The 2012 festival was the 60th Perth International Arts Festival. This year attracted 194,522 paid audience members and a total attendance figure of over 700,000. The opening of the festival featured a 'DAWN:DUSK' opening, where hundreds of people gathered on Cottesloe Beach to watch vocalists and musicians. The festival was held from 10 February to 4 March, and was the first year led by new artistic director, Jonathan Holloway. A number of events sold out during this year's festival, including tickets to Bon Iver.
The 2013 festival was held from 8 February to 2 March. With 750 artists, 820 events and 250 film screenings, it is the biggest yet. This year marked the announcement of a new significant partner, Chevron Corporation. This partnership was recognised through the renaming of the Festival Gardens to Chevron Festival Gardens.
At the 2012/2013 Lotterywest Film Festival, 26 films were screened, with the winner of the BHP Billiton audience award being The First Grader, directed by Justin Chadwick. This year also featured sold out event, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, who played at the Chevron City Gardens.
The 2014 festival was the 62nd Perth International Arts Festival held from 7 February until 1 March 2014.
By the 2000s its status was raised to being well recognised by publishers from interstate and overseas.
Venues for festival events have included:
- Somerville Auditorium, University of Western Australia
- Joondalup Pines
- His Majesty's Theatre
- State Theatre Centre of Western Australia
- Festival Gardens, Perth Cultural Centre
- Regal Theatre
- ABC Perth Studios
- Octagon Theatre UWA
- Subiaco Arts Centre
- Perth Concert Hall
- St Georges Terrace
- Nedlands Park Masonic Hall
- Fremantle Arts Centre
- Red Hill Auditorium
- Cottesloe Beach
- Quarry Amphitheatre
- Winthrop Hall, University of Western Australia
- Lawrence Wilson Art Galley
- John Curtin Gallery, Curtin College
- Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts
- Crown Perth Theatre
- Western Australian Museum
- State Library of Western Australia
- Former Playhouse Theatre
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