Image: Toni Wilkinson

Four years ago I announced my first Perth Festival program as a newcomer privileged to be welcomed into the embrace of this city. Inspired by Western Australia’s distinctive sense of place and its people, I set out to celebrate this incredible corner of the world and the stories that make it unique.

That commitment began with our 2016 Opening event Home and it culminates for me as Artistic Director with the return of Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak. This epic event will transform Perth’s beloved Kings Park into a nocturnal wonderland and delight visitors with its vivid expression of

Indigenous culture, while also reminding us of the need to care for the ground beneath our feet.

Boorna Waanginy is the centrepiece in  a series of work by Western Australian artists and companies under the banner Made in WA. This program includes seven world premieres of daring local productions nurtured and commissioned by Perth Festival.

Five Short Blasts, a journey on a flotilla of boats, departs from the mouth of the Swan River in the early morning and at dusk. This adventure completes the Festival’s trilogy of oral history projects – including A Mile in My Shoes and Museum of Water – that celebrate stories of place.

Our international Festival city also welcomes influences and artists from across the globe, from iconic names like Barrie Kosky’s Komische Oper Berlin, New York’s Elevator Repair Service and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir to the remarkable cross-cultural  collaboration between Chinese and Australian dancers and musicians One Infinity. Two of the world’s most exciting artists working in dance, South Africa’s Dada Masilo and Ireland’s Michael Keegan-Dolan, bring thrilling productions of classic ballets reimagined and made searingly relevant for now.

In these times who can argue against the need to appreciate difference and honour the things that connect us? Our visiting artists do just that. The British Paraorchestra, the world’s only large orchestra for professional musicians with disability, offers a radical new experience of live music. Our 2019 Artist-In-Residence Ursula Martinez presents two hilarious and provocative works, including the Perth Festival commission A Family Outing – 20 Years On, in which she boldly and bravely returns to a show made with her parents.

And we welcome Cassils, the Canadian transgender artist whose work challenges norms and is changing the face of contemporary art.

Our Festival Connect and Education programs sit at the heart of what we do and we continue to make rich offerings for creative learning to the local arts sector and arts lovers young and old. We invite you to join in.

Perth Festival is the result of the hard work, care and dedication of a fantastic team, to whom I am enormously grateful.

I also extend deep thanks to the Festival Board, our patrons, sponsors, donors and supporters and to the many people across Perth who continue to cherish the Festival.

I now truly call this place home and complete my cycle of four Festivals by presenting a lovingly made portrait of place and the things that matter.