The Melbourne Writers Festival (MWF) has announced that festival director and CEO Steve Grimwade will finish in his role following the 2012 festival.
Grimwade was appointed festival director in 2009, replacing Rosemary Cameron. He had previously held the role of associate director of MWF.
‘After five years at the festival—and at the end of my current contract—it’s time to let MWF find a new leader to further cement itself as a globally significant festival,’ said Grimwade in a statement.
Grimwade described directing the festival as a pleasure and a privilege. ‘We’ve broken new ground in the way we’ve developed relationships with writers and readers—and through innovative programming and fantastic partnerships we’ve successfully shifted the festival’s audience to a much younger demographic,’ said Grimwade. ‘It’s been an absolute delight to see audiences throng to see writers as diverse as Joss Whedon, Mona Eltahawy or Jonathan Franzen. But most of all it’s been an honour to create a festival which reflects Melbourne’s strengths, and which then connects these to the world at large.’
Festival chairman Michael Webster said in the same statement that MWF will now begin an international search for a new festival director. ‘It was important to get this news out early as part of a proper, timely succession plan and of course those of us who know and love Steve will be feeling a bit emotional when the curtain goes up on opening night this year,’ said Webster.
Webster said that under Grimwade’s directorship the festival has attracted average audience numbers of over 51,000, and that ‘the number of tickets sold has increased steadily’. He added that Grimwade has also ‘substantially boosted the festival’s income’, increasing sponsorships by more than a third and donations by 50 percent.
MWF said that Grimwade will ‘help transition his successor into the director’s role in the months after this year’s event’. The 2012 MWF will be held between 23 August and 2 September.
In related news, MWF has received $12,500 in funding from Tourism Victoria for interstate promotions.