Melbourne Festival Announces New Creative Director

Josephine Ridge
Josephine Ridge. Image by Prudence Upton

The Melbourne Festival have announced Josephine Ridge as the successor to Brett Sheehy, outgoing Festival Artistic Director whose fourth and final festival will be presented in October 2012. Ridge will commence her three year appointment with Melbourne Festival on April 30, 2012.

Ridge, current Executive Director and co-CEO of Sydney Festival, was the “standout” from a long list of local and international candidates, says Melbourne Festival President Carrillo Gantner, AO.

“[Josephine] understands the brief, she knows our industry inside out – both here and abroad – and she is ready to meet the new challenges. It is great to welcome back to Victoria one of our most successful and esteemed arts leaders. I look forward to working with Josephine as she builds the future success of the Festival”, said Carrillo Gantner.

During her tenure at Sydney Festival, Josephine was General Manager, then Executive Director and co-CEO with four Artistic Directors – Brett Sheehy, Fergus Linehan, Lindy Hume and now incoming Lieven Bertels. She oversaw Sydney Festival’s most spectacular period of growth, with annual revenues rising from $11.5 million to $19.5 million, net box office from $3.3 million to $5.1 million and corresponding dramatic growth in ticketed and free program attendances.

With her knack for growth and her understanding of the arts, it isn’t surprising that the Victorian Premier and Minister for the Arts Ted Baillieu welcomed the appointment. He praised the past artistic and creative directors for their “lasting and abundant creative legacy for all Victorians” and added:

“We look forward to Josephine’s contribution in this next exciting phase in the evolution of our Festival and the cultural life of Melbourne and Victoria”, Mr Baillieu said.

Ridge has worked extensively in the arts sector as Deputy General Manager of Australian Ballet (1997 to 2003), Deputy General Manager of Australian Chamber Orchestra (1993 to 1997), Marketing Manager of Playbox Theatre Company (1991 to 1993), and National Media Representative of Australian Opera (1986 to 1991).

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining the Melbourne Festival as its Creative Director from 2013” Josephine enthused.

“I’m extremely excited to be returning home to helm one of this country’s most respected and diverse arts festivals. Great festivals embrace their community and I already have a good understanding of the personality, tastes, style and culture of Melbourne. I’m passionate about all art forms and I absolutely share the Board’s desire to truly make this Melbourne’s Festival.”


Erin James

Erin James is's former Editor in Chief and a performer on both stage and screen. Credits include My Fair Lady, South Pacific and The King and I (Opera Australia), Love Never Dies and Cats (Really Useful Group), Blood Brothers (Enda Markey Presents), A Place To Call Home (Foxtel/Channel 7) and the feature film The Little Death (written and directed by Josh Lawson).

Erin James

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