About Sydney Festival
SydFest 2021. Australian Made.
2020 has been a challenging year. To kickstart 2021, we’re recovering, reconnecting communities, and reinvigorating Australia’s arts.
Each January, Sydney Festival presents bold and memorable experiences that ignite, unite, and excite the city of Sydney.
In 2021, we’re building on our proud 44-year history of commissioning and presenting inspiring and ground-breaking new Australian art, with a program that celebrates the best work from our finest artists and companies.
More than any other cultural event, Sydney Festival defines Sydney’s personality, while audacious contemporary programming positions it at the forefront of arts practice in Australia and as one of the most wonderful arts festivals in the world.
For over four decades we have presented international artists, commissioned works that have become Australian classics, opened new perspectives and created a buzz like no other.
To revisit the Sydney Festival programs from 1977 to 2020, please visit our archive.
Sydney Festival was conceived by the Sydney Committee, the NSW State Government and the City of Sydney to attract Sydneysiders into the city centre during the holiday month of January.
The first Festival took place in 1977 and it has since grown to become one of Australia's largest annual cultural celebrations with an international reputation for modern, popular and intelligent programming. Sydney Festival celebrates our city, and the Festival’s style and energy reflect the confidence, diversity and vigour of one of the world's most beautiful cities.
The Festival has a rich history of bringing the world’s best artists and companies to Sydney stages, and showcasing and nurturing the best of Australia’s homegrown talent.
Many of Australia’s most memorable productions have resulted from Sydney Festival commissions and premieres, including highlights from Cloudstreet (1998) to Black Chicks Talking (2003), Three Furies (2005), uniquely Australian musical The Adventures of Snugglepot & Cuddlepie and Little Ragged Blossom (2007), the outrageous cabaret Smoke and Mirrors (2010), The Secret River (2013), Black Diggers (2014), contemporary circus ensemble Circa’s Humans (2017), multi-award-winner Counting and Cracking (2019) and BLACK TIES (2020).
The buzz of Sydney in January wouldn’t be the same without Festival appearances from major Australian musicians, performers and comedians including Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Archie Roach, Ruby Hunter, Gotye, Regurgitator, Emma Donovan, Tex Perkins, Megan Washington, Meow Meow, Christa Hughes, Yana Alana and Celia Pacquola.
World-leading artists and companies that have shared work with Sydney Festival audiences in recent years include Lars Jan and Early Morning Opera’s Joan Didion’s The White Album, performance artist Bryrony Kimmings’ I’m A Phoenix, Bitch, and choral choir Tenebrae (2020); Schaubühne Berlin and Complicité’s Beware of Pity, Ethiopian legend Mulatu Astatke, Neneh Cherry, and American artist Nick Cave’s epic exhibition UNTIL (2019); Wayne McGregor, Olafur Eliasson and Jamie xx’s ballet collaboration Tree of Codes, National Theatre’s Barber Shop Chronicles, The Wooster Group’s The Town Hall Affair, Pussy Riot Theatre’s RIOT DAYS, and DryWrite and Soho Theatre’s hit Fleabag (2018); Complicité’s The Encounter, Cheek By Jowl with Pushkin Theatre’s Measure For Measure (2017); James Thierry’s Tabac Rouge (2015); Sasha Waltz’s underwater dance opera Dido and Aeneas (2014); and Ludger Engels and Vivienne Westwood’s Baroque-punk Semele Walk (2013), to name but a few.
These works join a long roster and legacy of extraordinary work and artists including: Ariane Mnouchkine and Thèâtre du Soleil (Flood Drummers); Robert Wilson (The Black Rider); Robert Lepage (Far Side of the Moon, The Andersen Project, Lipsynch); Nederlands Dans Theater; Philip Glass; Ian McKellen (Dance of Death); Batsheva Dance Company; National Theatre of Scotland (Beautiful Burnout, Black Watch, Aalst); Al Green; Chaka Khan; Andrew Weatherall; AR Rahman; Angélique Kidjo; Kneehigh Theatre (Tristan & Yseult, The Red Shoes); and Fabulous Beast (Rian).
For more information on each Sydney Festival visit our archive.
Wesley Enoch AM is Festival Director 2017–present
Wesley Enoch, a proud Noonuccal Nuugi man, is a writer and director who has previously been the Artistic Director at Kooemba Jdarra Indigenous Performing Arts; Artistic Director at Ilbijerri Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Theatre Co-operative; Artistic Director at Queensland Theatre Company; and the Associate Artistic Director at Belvoir Street Theatre.
Enoch’s other residencies include Resident Director at Sydney Theatre Company – he was also creative consultant, segment director and indigenous consultant for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games. He is Chair of Create NSW’s Aboriginal Arts and Culture Board; Chair of the Australia Council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy Panel; a Board member of Annamila and NAISDA; and a member of the AGNSW Aboriginal Advisory Committee
Enoch has written and directed a number of renowned Indigenous theatre productions, including The 7 Stages of Grieving which he directed and co-wrote with Deborah Mailman; The Sunshine Club for Queensland Theatre Company; and Black Medea – a new adaption of Euripides’ Medea. In 2004 Wesley directed the original stage production of The Sapphires, which won the 2005 Helpmann Award for Best Play. He directed Black Diggers, presented at Sydney Festival in 2014 and his most recent production was Black Cockatoo, which premiered at the 2020 Sydney Festival.
Previous directors were:
Lieven Bertels: 2013–2016
Lindy Hume: 2010–2012
Fergus Linehan: 2006–2009
Brett Sheehy: 2002–2005
Leo Schofield: 1998–2001
Anthony Steel: 1995–1997
Stephen Hall: 1977–1994
Festival Director 2022
The board of Sydney Festival has announced the appointment of their new Festival Director for 2022, Australian curator and producer, Olivia Ansell.
Ansell, a highly accomplished arts professional with over two decades’ experience as a director, choreographer and performing artist, is set to commence her three-year tenure in November. She comes to the role after two and a half years as Head of Contemporary Performance at Sydney Opera House.
Voted one of Vivid Sydney’s Top 100 Creative Catalysts, Ansell possesses a vast breadth of art experience, including roles as co-Executive Producer and creative force behind the hugely-popular immersive experience Hidden Sydney; Artistic Director of Sydney Comedy Festival at Sydney Town Hall; Curator of Kings Bloody Cross for Vivid Ideas; producer of Richard Walley OAM and Nigel Jamieson’s large-scale concert spectacular, HOME for Perth International Arts Festival; Consultant Executive Producer for OzAsia Festival Adelaide; and inaugural Executive Producer of Shaun Parker & Company. She is also a lecturer in Movement for the Sydney Conservatorium of Music’s Con Opera School.
Since 2017, Ansell has curated and championed a diverse range of maverick storytellers to the Sydney Opera House stage, including Lucy Moss and Toby Marlow’s cult musical SIX; Hofesh Shechter’s critically acclaimed Grand Finale; Lin Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights; A O Lang Pho by Cirque Nouveau du Vietnam; Natalia Osipova and David Hallberg’s Pure Dance and Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby’s hit show, Douglas.
The full announcement can be read here.
Board of Directors
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC QC, Governor of New South Wales
David Kirk MBE – Chair
Co-Founder and Managing Partner
Bailador Investment Management
David is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Bailador Investment Management and Chairman of listed companies Bailador Technology Investments, Trade Me and Kathmandu. Prior to this, he was Chief Executive Officer of Fairfax Media. His previous experience also includes a period as an advisor to the Prime Minister of New Zealand. He is currently the Chairman of Trustees of Sydney Grammar School and sits on a number of other Boards and charitable organisations.
David enjoyed a highly successful rugby career and captained the All Blacks to win the World Cup in 1987. He was awarded an MBE in 1987 and now lives in Sydney with his wife and three sons.
Prof. Larissa Behrendt AO
Distinguished Prof. Larissa Behrendt holds the Chair of Indigenous Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology, Sydney. Larissa won the 2018 Australian Directors Guild Award for best Direction of a Documentary Feature Film for After the Apology. She also wrote and directed the Walkley-nominated feature documentary Innocence Betrayed. She has written and produced several short films. She is a graduate of UNSW and Harvard Law School.
She has published numerous textbooks on Indigenous legal issues. Larissa won the 2002 David Unaipon Award and a 2005 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for her novel Home. Her second novel, Legacy, won a Victorian Premiers Literary Award. Her most recent book is Finding Eliza: Power and Colonial Storytelling (2016, UQP).
She is a board member of the Sydney Festival and a member of the Major Performing Arts Panel of the Australia Council. Larissa was awarded the 2009 NAIDOC Person of the Year award and 2011 NSW Australian of the Year. She is the host of Speaking Out on the ABC Local Radio and Radio National.
Andrew Cameron AM
Andrew has served on the boards of the Biennale of Sydney, Belvoir, SCAF, ACCA, and Melbourne Art Fair and Foundation. He was Deputy Commissioner for Australia’s presentation at the Venice Biennale, is currently Chair of the Foundation at Art Gallery of New South Wales, Chair of Artspace, and is a member of the International Council of the Tate in London – as well as sitting on the Tate Asia-Pacific Advisory Committee.
He holds the position of Executive Chairman for a group of private businesses and has had previous careers in architecture and merchant banking. In addition, Andrew was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2014 for significant services to the performing and visual arts.
Paddy is a member of the Global Board overseeing the PwC international network and chairs its Risk & Operations Committee. She is also a member of the Board of Partners of PwC Australia and chairs its Finance & Operations Committee. She has over 25 years' financial experience with PwC in the UK and Australia advising a broad range of clients with a focus on retail, consumer, hospitality and agribusiness. She is also a Trustee of the Historic Houses Trust of NSW (Sydney Living Museums) and a member of Chief Executive Women.
Angela Clark began her career as an investment analyst before joining global outdoor advertising leader JCDecaux as Managing Director of the Australian division, launching the company’s operations across four states. In 2003, Angela joined Macquarie Radio Network as CEO, leading the business to a listing on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2005. After five years, Angela left Macquarie Radio Network to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities, founding a number of digital media start-ups before joining ABC in 2011 as Director, Innovation and then as Director, Digital Network.
Angela is currently the CEO of Beem It, a payments fintech founded by three banks, and was previously Executive General Manager of Small Business at the Commonwealth Bank. Angela has a held Directorships across multiple arts, media and sporting organisations and holds a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University.
Since joining Blackfella Films in 2000 Darren has produced many award-winning factual productions for SBS including the landmark multi-platform history series First Australians, feature documentaries The Tall Man, Deep Water - The Real Story and In My Own Words, two seasons of the Logie Award-winning First Contact, plus the series DNA Nation, How ‘Mad’ Are You? and two seasons of Filthy Rich and Homeless.
In collaboration with acclaimed UK writer Jimmy McGovern, Darren has also produced, with Miranda Dear, two series and a telemovie of the Logie Award and AACTA Award-winning Redfern Now for ABC1. He also produced with Miranda Dear the telemovie Mabo, commissioned by the ABC to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the landmark High Court decision, and the crime drama Deep Water for SBS.
He was Executive Producer on the Logie and AACTA Award winning teen drama series Ready for This for ABC3.
Darren currently serves on the board of the Sydney Film Festival and was previously on the board of Screen NSW and the Council of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS). In 2012 he was the recipient of the prestigious AFTRS Honorary Degree.
Kate has enjoyed a career in media, public policy and cultural leadership. She held senior executive roles in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in both corporate and content areas, including five years as Director of ABC Radio. She has also held several senior government roles including Deputy Secretary Arts & Culture in NSW and most recently Executive Director of Performing Arts at the Sydney Opera House. Kate is a mentor for emerging and established leaders, working both independently and with McCarthy Mentoring. Kate is Deputy Chair of the Board of Australia for UNHCR and chairs its Leadership and Nominations Committee. She also currently serves on the NSW Multi Arts and Festivals Board.
Kate has previously served on other boards including the Australian Film, Radio and Television School where she also chaired the Finance, Audit and Risk Committee. She is a Vincent Fairfax Fellow (Centre for Ethical Leadership, University of Melbourne), holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications (Charles Sturt University) and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Dr Robert Lang
Dr Robert Lang is a leader in city building, community engagement, strategic urban planning, economic development, creating great public places, transport infrastructure, place management, arts, tourism and energy.
He has extensive experience in the public service, gained within a combination of state & local government businesses.
He has a long involvement in the arts, theatre production and direction, music creation and performance, training young people in the performing arts, delivering arts to western Sydney audiences and significant experience in outdoor events.
He has a focus on place making and place development and bringing together the drivers for making great cities. He has a keen interest in the potential of western Sydney to provide business growth & economic development opportunities and the goal of making Sydney a livable city with more jobs closer to home.
As a former CEO for Parramatta City Council he understands local government, knows how to develop a compelling vision for the city and deliver major new city property & infrastructure developments. He brought major new events to Parramatta, implemented a new place-making focus and initiated the Western Sydney Light Rail project.
Dr Lang has a number of interests in the not for profit sector including disability services, affordable housing, education and the arts.
Australian writer and broadcaster
He’s the author of the memoir The Family Law (2010), the travel book Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East (2012) and the Quarterly Essay Moral Panic 101 (2017). He’s the editor of the anthology Growing Up Queer in Australia (2019) and creator and co-writer of three seasons of the award-winning SBS TV series The Family Law, based on his memoir. He has a PhD in creative writing and cultural studies from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
In 2019, he was named one of the Asian-Australian Leadership Summit’s (AALS) 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians (winning the Arts, Culture & Sport category) and one of Harper’s Bazaar’s Visionary Men.
Every week, Benjamin co-hosts ABC RN’s weekly national pop culture show Stop Everything. He also co-hosts online startup and tech TV show That Startup Show, and you can catch him on TV shows like Q&A (ABC), The Drum (ABC), The Project (Ten), Filthy Rich and Homeless (SBS) and the ABC’s two-part ABC feature documentary on Chinese-Australian history, Waltzing the Dragon. He has also written for over 50 publications in Australia and beyond including the Monthly, Frankie, Good Weekend, the Guardian, the Australian, Monocle and the Australian Financial Review.
He also co-wrote the comedy book Shit Asian Mothers Say (2014) with his sister Michelle, and the sex/relationships advice book Law School (2017) with his mum Jenny. He was also a researcher and associate producer on Blackfella Films’ Deep Water: The Real Story (SBS) and a writer on Endemol Shine’s Sisters (Netflix/Ten). His debut play Torch the Place (Melbourne Theatre Company) runs February–March 2020.
Benjamin is based in Sydney. He is a Plan Australia ambassador and Story Factory board member.
Catriona Noble GAICD
MD Retail Distribution, ANZ Banking Corporation
Commencing with ANZ in 2015, Catriona was responsible for key retail distribution channels to customers including the Australian branch network. In this role, Catriona led a team of more than 6,000 people. More recently she spent time as an executive sponsor for several key institutional banking clients.
Prior to joining ANZ, Catriona worked for the McDonald’s Corporation as Chief Restaurant Officer, Asia, Pacific, Middle East and Africa based in Singapore. In this role she was responsible for more than 10,000 restaurants and 200,000 people. Previously, Catriona was CEO and Managing Director for McDonald’s Australia and Chair of RMHC (Ronald McDonald House Charities) for approximately four years.
Throughout a 20-year career with McDonald’s, Catriona earned a reputation as an innovator for her success in driving fundamental cultural change to achieve business success. During her time as CEO she played an integral role in the transformation of the McDonald’s brand in Australia from a pure fast food outlet to one that offers healthier options, attracting a broader customer base in the process.
She is a member and mentor with the Business Council of Australia, CEW member and was previously a member of the Australian Social Inclusion Board (Federal Government), of which she was the Deputy Chair of the National Place Based Advisory Group.
Catriona also completed the AMP (Advanced Management Program) at INSEAD business school, Fontainebleau in 2010.
She is an enthusiastic supporter of the arts across all mediums. She is especially passionate about the growth of access and support of the arts beyond major city centres.
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Sydney Festival Office Details
Level 5, 10 Hickson Road
The Rocks NSW 2000
Phone: (+61) 2 8248 6500
Fax: (+61) 2 8248 6599
Ticketing and box office inquiries
Wesley Enoch AM
execoffice [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
Festival Director 2022–2024
execoffice [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
execoffice [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
execoffice [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
vivia.hickman [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
kate.williams [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
Program Administrator & Associate Producer
rebecca.gribble [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
aimee.ocampo [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
tara.harding [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
Ticketing Systems Coordinator
sarah.toner [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
Graphic Design Manager
anais.taylor [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
Senior Corporate Partnership Manager
brooke.ravens [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
amalina.whitaker [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
Head of Philanthropy
marita.supplee [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
Head of Production
john.bayley [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
alycia.bangma [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
blake.smith [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
fernando.motti [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
Finance and Operations
Head of Finance and Administration
dimitri.cachia [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
Finance & Administration Manager
jennifer.stallard [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
Accounts and Payroll Officer
julie.crawford [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
courtney.lewis [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
thomas.hamilton [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
Executive Project Coordinator
fiona.jackson [at] sydneyfestival.org.au
Work With Us
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Media Releases and Enquiries
Sydney Festival 2021 Program Launch
New Festival Director for 2022-24 Announced
Festival Director Wesley Enoch awarded Order of Australia
For more information and high-resolution images of Sydney Festival events, contact:
Please note: media enquiries only.
Disability Inclusion Action Plan
The Sydney Festival Disability Inclusion Action Plan (DIAP) supports the Festival's commitment to welcome everyone in Sydney, regardless of accessibility needs, and provides our organisation with strategic direction in addressing accessibility issues.
Download a copy of the 2017–18 Disability Inclusion Action Plan as a PDF or Word document.
Reconciliation Action Plan
Sydney Festival's vision for reconciliation is to formally and informally engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and communities, and to positively contribute to closing the gap between Indigenous and other Australians.
The Festival will do this by committing to four key areas:
• respecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and cultures
• offering employment opportunities to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
• offering development and presentation opportunities to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and arts workers
• building cultural awareness and understanding among our staff, stakeholders and audiences of the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander stories
We have a vision to be the most sustainable major performing arts festival in Australia.To read our full vision of sustainability, download the PDF here.
Sustainability at Sydney Festival
We have a vision to be the most sustainable major performing arts festival in Australia.
For several years we have been working towards making Sydney Festival a more sustainable event, with both big wins and big challenges. For example, we no longer offer disposable plastic water bottles – instead we give artists and staff reusable metal water bottles.
Offsetting our carbon footprint remains a large task, and every Festival helps us take another step towards fully understanding our impact, and identifying ways to minimise our impact and maximise the positive environmental, social and economic legacies of Sydney Festival.
Meeting our vision
With an estimated audience of 450 000, over 50 venues with performances by over 800 artists from Australia and abroad, the impact of resource consumption, waste creation, transportation, and greenhouse gas emissions is considerable.
In collaboration with our artists, venues, suppliers, staff, crew, volunteers and, importantly, with our audience together we can meaningfully reduce our resource consumption, waste creation, and our greenhouse gas emissions, so that together we meet our vision for a truly Sustainable Sydney Festival.
We will be enlisting your help to reduce our impact because; we believe that together we really can make a difference.
To read our full vision of sustainability, download the PDF here.
Acknowledgement of Country
Sydney Festival acknowledges the 29 clans of the Eora Nation, the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Festival takes place.
We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities.
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