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The Perth International Arts Festival has its roots in providing entertainment and cultural opportunities to participants in The University of Western Australia’s adult education program in the early 1950’s. Unashamedly modelled on the Edinburgh International Festival, Perth International Arts Festival presented its first program in 1953 to an audience of some 42,000 attendances and has continued to do this with extraordinary success every year. The message from Festival founder Prof Fred Alexander is a profound reminder of our raison d’etre:

Don’t let these men and women down by listening to carping critics who would have you produce the moon, preferably on a piece of home-made cheese; keep up your standards and seek the best that is available to you wherever it may be found; but don’t allow the Festival to become the exclusive preserve of the ultra-highbrows who might be tempted to forget that it is primarily a festival for the people of Perth.

Above all, fight to prevent the Festival from passing under the control of little men who would prefer to play safe rather than take risks which might evoke criticism and so endanger their personal prestige.

Prof Fred Alexander was the first artistic director, John Birman, the second, David Blenkinsop the third, and this took us to the year 2000.

Since 2000 there have been four artistic directors, each with a four year term: Sean Doran, Lindy Hume, Shelagh Magadza and Jonathan Holloway.

The Artistic Director for 2016–19 is Wendy Martin.

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