The yearly Perth International Arts Festival is the longest-running festival of culture in Western Australia and, in fact in the entire nation. The program covers music (both classical and contemporary), dance, theatre, opera, installation art, and visual art. The larger festival also incorporates the Perth Writers Festival and the Lotterywest Film Festival. The main festival starts in February and runs to March with the Perth Writers Festival coming at the start, with the Lotterywest Film Festival stretching over a longer period (November to April).
The University of Western Australia launched the festival in 1953. Its uninterrupted run since that year makes it the oldest arts festival in both Australia and the southern hemisphere as a whole. It includes activities all across the state covering music, dance, theatre, film, literature, and the visual arts. Every year it attracts artists from around the globe.
The Nedlands campus of the University of Western Australia has served as the base of the festival since its inception. Further support comes from the University in the form of resources and services as needed. Lotterywest has had a hand in meeting the festival’s financial needs since 1992. There are also corporate sponsors and partners providing funding and support from year to year, with countless organisations contributing at one time or another.
Though the roster of participating partners changes every year, certain organisations have made an ongoing long-term commitment to sponsoring the Festival. There are six major groups of corporate partners:
- Major Partners
- Public Funding Partners
- Leadership Partners
- International Partners
Major partners with multi-year involvement in the Festival include Lotterywest, Rio Tinto, and Wesfarmers.
In 2012 the Perth International Arts Festival celebrated its 60th year. More than 700,000 guests attended the various events, and 194,522 paying audience members attended. The opening of the festival was celebrated with a ‘DAWN:DUSK’ event on Cottesloe Beach where hundreds of attendees were entertained by a variety of musicians and singers. The 2012 festival lasted from February 10 to March 4. This year was the debut of Jonathan Holloway as the Festival’s artistic director. Several of the events put on during the Festival were sellouts, including Bon Iver.
In 2013, the Perth International Arts Festival lasted from February 8 to March 2. There were 820 total events, featuring 750 artists and 250 film screenings. This made it the Festival’s largest year ever. Chevron Corporation stepped in in 2013 to become a significant corporate partner. In recognition of the company’s support, the Festival Gardens were renamed the Chevron Festival Gardens.
The 2012/2013 Lotterywest Film Festival included 26 different films. The highlight was The First Grader, directed by Justing Chadwick, which won the BHP Billiton Audience Award. The concert at Chevron City Gardens by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis was completely sold out.
The 62nd Perth International Arts Festival was held from February 7 to March 1 in 2014.