No Melbourne director has ever served for more than three years. An extension for Edmunds would add to the debate about the justification for the festival's relatively low box-office targets of $1 million. "Social sectors that include the arts are different from business which measures output as a comparison of money in and money out," [Festival Chairwoman Carol Schwartz] says. "Kristy is seen as innovative and has positioned Melbourne in the international arena as a centre for contemporary arts." She says the internationally acclaimed director Robert Wilson was impressed with this year's [the 2006] program, and last year the composer, Philip Glass, hailed Edmunds as the best festival director to come out of the US. But the emphasis on innovation has resulted in the festival having one of the lowest box-office returns in the country. It is hard to know how a Melbourne festival could ever not be considered a success if a return of $1 million is regarded as satisfactory from an investment of about $7 million. Perth, which is less than one-third the size of Melbourne, had a return of $2.4 million this year [on its arts festival]. But the sharpest difference is with Sydney, which had a record box office of $4.2 million last summer. While the Melbourne festival raises about $1.5 million in sponsorship, Sydney scored a whopping $4.1 million. This means that Sydney is $5.8 million better off, offsetting the difference of state grants ($3.3 million compared to Melbourne festival's $5.5 million).
“Sydney Festival enjoys a close relationship with Melbourne Festival. The two festivals are part of a very small group of annual festivals in Australia, often working closely together on co-presentations…With less than week til their opening, this is a very exciting time for Melbourne Festival. As always, we wish them the very best.”
[photo above: PICA founder Kristy Edmunds, courtesy of The Age]