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About

About us

#Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Brisbane.

We believe that a Festival should be festive and celebrate the personality of its city.

We are Brisbane’s most anticipated event of the year, bringing people together as they awake from their winter slumber for an explosion of arts performances and experiences.

Brisbane Festival is unlike anything else you can experience in the world. We redefine what an International Arts Festival looks and feels like, staying ahead of the game and bringing the next generation with us.

The river and iconic city landmarks are our stage as we create the art that enlivens, delights and disrupts. The curated multi-arts program presents a bold international program transporting our audience beyond the everyday through captivating performances and installations from across the world. We participate in global conversations. Brisbane is a city with boundless ambition, and the program celebrates this through collaborations, commissions and presentations.

We are deeply committed to making the impossible possible for our audiences and our artists. Brisbane Festival is an important time of the year when our artists are pushed beyond the horizon to make the work of their dreams come to life. We inspire audiences with new ideas and experiences that leave life-long impressions. We are at the heart of integrating arts and culture as a vital part of Brisbane’s future, creating an unwavering demand for this wonderful Festival.

Brisbane Festival acknowledges this country’s First Nations people and with their leadership and guidance, we celebrate that deep cultural legacy. We create a rich multi-arts program made by and with our local Indigenous community.

As our city landscape changes and undergoes unprecedented growth, we move forward with gusto, determination, authenticity and excitement. Brisbane Festival is seizing the moment and heralding a new beginning.

#Acknowledgement of Country

Brisbane Festival expresses its respect for and acknowledgement of the Brisbane Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners of country, including the custodial neighbouring communities on whose land works are created, performed and celebrated by Brisbane Festival. We acknowledge the continuing connection to land, waters and communities. We also pay our respects to Elders, past and emerging.

We recognise the integral role Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples continue to play in the creative and artistic events and celebration spaces. Brisbane Festival and the Indigenous Advisory Group will meaningfully engage, embrace culture and commit to a progressive future together.

A group of eight individuals marching in a parade at The Warana Festival in the 60's. They wear matching pink jackets, black skirts, white dress boots and black and pink performance hats. A large pink and black unreadable flag is displayed.

#Our History

Brisbane Festival emerged from The Warana Festival, which had been running since 1961.

Warana’s theme was ‘entertainment for the people, by the people’, and included a drama festival and eisteddfod, a writers' week, a George Street Colonial Fair, a Miss Warana Pageant and various religious, sporting and other outdoors activities.

It was a much loved festival, but the city had aspirations for something more sophisticated after the 1988 Expo, and by the mid-1990s it was clear that the city needed a new approach. In 1996, the Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council created Brisbane Festival as a biennial arts festival with an aim ‘to foster the arts’.

At around the same time, in 1998, Riverfestival was created by Brisbane City Council as an annual, 10-day event held each September. It was a ‘river-based celebration combined with community engagement’. It had a broad cultural focus incorporating art, environmental science and sport underpinned by a strong sustainability message. It utilised many of the city's outdoor public spaces close to the river, and included signature events such as the International Riversymposium as part of a key goal to raise environmental awareness, and Riverfire, a popular fireworks display.

In 2009, Brisbane Festival and RiverFestival were combined through a Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council initiative into one large annual international arts festival. The iconic Riverfire now marks the opening weekend of Brisbane Festival.

Brisbane Festival operates under the direction of the Board of Major Brisbane Festivals Pty Ltd.

Brisbane Festival is the youngest major annual Australian arts festival by at least a decade. In that time, Brisbane Festival has established itself as a world class festival and Brisbane’s biggest cultural event.

Artistic Directors have been Tony Gould (1996-2004), Lyndon Terracini (2006-2009), Noel Staunton (2010 -2014) and David Berthold (2015 to 2019). Louise Bezzina is the Artistic Director for the festivals from 2020 to 2025.

#Environmental sustainability

Brisbane Festival is working towards embedding environmental sustainability in everything we do.

Brisbane Festival is unlike anything else you can experience in the world. We redefine what an International Arts Festival looks and feels like, staying ahead of the game and bringing the next generation with us. We are future focussed, and we care about the planet.

We are:

  • Working with venues to provide recycling bins
  • Reducing single use plastic, including straws, single-use water bottles, plastic bags, balloons and disposable coffee cups
  • Encouraging attendees to bring their own water bottles and coffee cups
  • Encouraging low emissions transport options, like cycling, scooting, walking, trains, buses and ferries. Or carpooling.
  • Providing drinking fountains or water stations for refilling water bottles
  • Promoting the use of reusable water bottles over single-use bottles
  • Discouraging the use of single use materials, and encouraging recycling of everything
  • Talking with staff, volunteers, vendors, venues, partners, audiences, sponsors and donors about greening the planet
  • Encouraging caterers to use reusable, compostable or recyclable serve ware
  • Considering the full lifecycle impacts of products (economic, environmental and social)
  • Avoiding single-use and overly packaged items where possible
  • Referring all suppliers to the BCC environmental guidelines
  • Developing an environmental impact strategy which will measure usage and reduce emissions

#Our Team

Who are the team of people behind Brisbane Festival? Our current staff members are listed below.

Louise Bezzina

Artistic Director

Charlie Cush

Chief Executive Officer


#Board of Directors

Anna Reynolds

Chair

Philip Bacon AO

Deputy Chair

Kim Challenor

David Lyons

Simon Morrison

Amanda Newbery

Anna Palmer

Michelle Tuahine

Graeme Wikman


#Leadership Team

Fabienne Cooke

Head of Philanthropy

Rebecca Drummond

Finance Director and Company Secretary

Rachael Rigg

Head of Partnerships and Engagement

Min Collie-Holmes

Executive Producer – Programming

Bella Ford

Head of Programming

Tim Pack

Technical Director

Sarah Farnsworth

Head of Business Systems and Operations

Charlotte Sayer

Marketing and Communication Director


#Technical

Richard Clarke

Production Manager

Maggie May

Technical Manager / Acting Production Manager


#Marketing and Communications

Nadia Okorn

Marketing Manager

Mark Sutton

Brand and Content Manager

James Armstrong

Business Systems and Ticketing Manager

Tom Lyttle

Digital Systems Specialist


#Programming

Fiona MacDonald

Creative Producer

Simon Mula

Creative Producer

Laura McCabe

Production Coordinator

Mayella Dewis-Koroi

Creative Producer - Engagement

Emelia Stacy

Programming Intern

Sanja Simic

Creative Producer


#Partnerships and Engagement

Georgie Beauchamp

Partnerships Administrator


#Finance

Lorelle Edwards

Finance Assistant


#Philanthropy

Jenny Usher

Senior Philanthropy Coordinator

Feena Callinan

Philanthropy and Executive Coordinator


#Administration

Justine Robins

Administration Manager

Clare Glassock

Office Assistant


#Indigenous Advisory Group

Bridget Garay

Co-Chair

Shannon Ruska

Co-Chair

Raelene Baker

Elder


#Giving Committee

The Hon Justice Thomas Bradley

Chair

Courtney Talbot

Deputy Chair

Philip Bacon AO

Eliza Baxby

Heidi Cooper

David Lyons

Anna Palmer

Ben Poschelk

Paul Taylor


#Agencies

Aruga

Publicity

Atmosphere Photography

Photography

Bigfish

Brand & Website

Dowling Design

Design

Josh Mcintosh

Site Design

optikal bloc

Video

PHD Media

Advertising


Stay Covid safe

We want you to enjoy the Festival and stay safe. Read more about what you can do to help keep yourself and the community safe when attending events

It all starts with you

Festival donors make it happen! Read more about the Brisbane Festival Giving Program, the wonderful people who support it, and how it helps brings art to the city

Brisbane Festival expresses deep respect to and acknowledges the First People of this Country.