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Artistic Director

SHELAGH MAGADZA ARTISTIC DIRECTOR 2008-11

As she delivers the final Festival of her four-year term as Artistic Director of the Perth International Arts Festival, Shelagh Magadza has seen more people than ever enjoy the very best of the arts from Australia and around the world.

Ms Magadza’s ambition to take the Festival experience to as many people as possible – not only as a celebration of the arts, but also as a celebration of the city of Perth – has seen paid attendance grow from 180,000 in 2008 to more than 200,000 in 2010.

Highlights under her direction included the sell-out season of National Theatre of Scotland’s Black Watch, the extraordinary power of Russia’s critically acclaimed Maly Drama Theatre’s Life and Fate, Japan’s Jan-Jan Opera epic Nostalgia and the spectacular, awe-inspiring 2010 opening event from Spanish multi-award winners La Fura Dels Baus.

Shelagh is passionate about promoting Australian works and talent. This is reflected in the commissioning of Australian works which have premiered at the Perth Festival. These include the award-winning War of the Roses (with Sydney Festival and Sydney Theatre Company); Benjamin Britten’s classic opera Peter Grimes (with WA Opera and the Australian Youth Orchestra); contemporary dance favourite Shaun Parker & Company’s Happy As Larry (with Sydney Festival, Adelaide Festival and Brisbane Festival). Perth International Arts Festival, West Australian Symphony Orchestra and West Australian Opera together produced a new, semi-staged version of John Adam’s contemporary opera, the gorgeous A Flowering Tree.

The contemporary music venue on The Esplanade, Beck’s Music Box has gone from strength to strength and is an audience favourite. The Perth Writers Festival has firmly established itself on the campus of The University of Western Australia, with the grounds providing an idyllic setting for the five days of this highly successful event which connects with an ever-growing number of the community each year.

Ms Magadza is a vocal advocate for the arts and was invited to participate in the Australia 2020 Summit on the Towards a Creative Australia panel.

Previously the Perth Festival’s Associate Director Ms Magadza joined the Festival in 2002. She has extensive experience in Festival management through various roles in New Zealand and Edinburgh over the past thirteen years. 

Ms Magadza holds a Masters in International Relations (Victoria University, Wellington) with research focused on international cultural exchange. She has worked in a non-professional capacity with various community organisations and non-governmental organisations on multicultural issues.


Perth International Arts Festival has appointed Jonathan Holloway as Artistic Director for 2012-15.