Western Australian arts leader Anna Reece will be Perth Festival’s next Artistic Director.
Anna will succeed Artistic Director Iain Grandage after his fifth and final Festival program in 2024. Iain is in final preparations for the 2023 Festival, which opens next month.
Selected from an outstanding international field of candidates, Anna will start working with the Festival later this year to plan and deliver the 2025-28 Festivals.
An inspiring, generous, and dynamic arts leader, she has been an executive and creative producer, curator and programmer, director and CEO, with a career focus that has flourished within major multi-arts festivals.
Image: Duncan Wright
Anna is deeply committed to the development of a strong and vibrant arts ecology in and across Australia. Her breadth of experience reaches across the not-for-profit arts and cultural sectors, and she is highly respected for her commitment to commissioning new Australian work and leading capacity development.
Her appointment completes a full circle back to the Festival she first joined nearly 10 years ago as Executive Producer of The Incredible and Phenomenal Journey of The Giants. That free three-day spectacle at the 2015 Perth Festival attracted 1.4 million people to the CBD and remains Australia’s biggest single arts event.
Anna is currently the Director of Fremantle Arts Centre where she has led the creation of an ambitious new strategic and artistic vision, cementing the multi-arts institution as a creative campus committed to fostering a community of innovation and inspiration, collaboration and curiosity, risk-taking and rigour. In 2022 she secured $1.25 million commitment from the Federal Government to redevelop the building’s north wing into a Creative Hub.
Her leadership roles at Perth Festival have previously included Head of Programming (2015-17) and Executive Producer (2017-21).
Her major Festival experience also includes Darwin Festival, where she was General Manager and Co-CEO. Her freelance career has also seen her work for festivals and performing arts companies across the country.
Anna has been instrumental in imagining and delivering some of Australia’s most significant festival experiences over the past 20 years. With a love for works of scale and an unwavering commitment to First Nations leadership, artists and work, her approach is one of collaboration, provocation and celebration. She recently produced the 2020-2022 national tour of Buŋgul, the spectacular celebration of Yolŋu culture and Gurrumul Yunupingu.
Perth Festival Chair Tim Ungar says: ‘We are delighted that Anna will be joining the Festival to lead our ongoing drive to celebrate Perth on the international stage and to bravely imagine what a festival can be for its community.
‘An innovator and creative producer, Anna has the unique ability to dream big and deliver on her dreams. She has already played a pivotal role in creating and delivering many Perth Festival programs and it is especially exciting to welcome such an experienced and inspiring creative and strategic force to the helm.
‘Anna is internationally respected as a colleague, collaborator, and leader, and widely admired for her artistic sensibilities and curatorial clarity. She has a clear, bold vision, a strong sense of place and a commitment to artistic and audience development for a community with which she has a very close affinity.’
Anna Reece says: ‘I am drawn to this opportunity, to this Festival, above any other in Australia or the world, because Perth | Boorloo is my home. A city without edges, a city of openness, ancient stories, strong proud culture, endless horizons and possibility, this place runs in my veins.
‘The opportunity to creatively lead and care for the future direction of Perth Festival is both rare and extraordinary and the most incredible privilege. It is a role I have aspired to hold since I first began my professional career in the Australian arts sector almost 20 years ago.
‘I acknowledge the immense responsibility that comes with this role, to our Noongar community, to our vibrant artistic community and to all who hold a place for Perth Festival in their hearts.’
Perth Festival 2023 will run from 10 February to 5 March. The Festival’s Lotterywest Films season is currently running at UWA Somerville through to April. Program details: perthfestival.com.auAbout Anna
Born in Fremantle | Walyalup, the daughter of a historian and a children’s literature dynamo, Anna Reece is a self-confessed festival animal, raised in the festival playgrounds of Australia.
A motivated, fearless and innovative individual, Anna proudly represents the future of the arts in Australia: part of a new wave of creative thinkers and risk-takers. She is engaged, ambitious, ideological, embedded in community, committed to best practice and strongly connected to First Nations voices both here on Wadjuk Noongar Boodja and across the country.
Anna holds a Bachelor of Dramatic Art in Production from the National Institute of Dramatic Art. She is a member of the Atelier European Festivals Association alumni, a recipient of the Chief Executive Women Australia Scholarship for Emerging Leaders and is a graduate of the Australia Council for the Arts Leadership Program.
Previous roles include Executive Producer at Perth Festival, Executive Producer of The Giants and Co-CEO of Darwin Festival.
As Executive Producer at Perth Festival, Anna played a key role in nurturing its artistic vision and creating the strategy for its implementation since joining the Festival in 2014 to produce Perth’s most successful and memorable event The Giants in 2015. Upon her departure in 2021, she had overseen the artistic and operational delivery of seven festivals, including the production of unique large-scale public events Home, Boorna Waanginy, Siren Song and Highway to Hell.
One of her most significant achievements was implementing Perth Festival’s unrivalled Connect program which works with communities, artists, teachers and organisations to contribute to a flourishing local cultural sector, for which she is a passionate advocate.
Darwin Festival was forever changed due to Anna’s creative leadership. As Co-CEO she was instrumental in developing the iconic Lighthouse venue and Festival Park – the Festival hub that transforms the city centre each dry season.
Anna has a notable track record for commissioning Western Australian works and is a highly skilled producer, most recently delivering Buŋgul, the spectacular celebration of Yolŋu culture and Gurrumul Yunupingu.