SENSE OF PLACE DRIVES PIAF HEAD
IT has been exactly nine months since Sydney-born Wendy Martin moved to Perth to start her four-year adventure as Perth International Arts Festival (PIAF) artistic director, but her connection to the city began long before.
“My paternal grandfather was born in Perth in 1898 and was an impresario who ran the Tivoli circuit in Melbourne and Sydney,” Martin said.
“My dad took over the Tivoli circuit when he was 24 before becoming a film and television producer and then for 26 years he was the chief executive of Sydney Opera House.
“So I grew up sitting in the plush red velvet seats of the Tivoli Theatre as a little girl and one of my strongest mem- ories is being just over two years old, sitting in my mother’s lap at the Tivoli watching The Wizard of Oz.”
It was while Martin herself was working at Sydney Opera House that she became aware of the “amazing programming” former PIAF artistic director Sean Doran was doing before she travelled west for her first PIAF program driven by Lindy Hume.
Several more festivals later, Martin left her role as head of performing and dance at London’s Southbank Centre to see Jonathan Holloway’s final ‘giant’ triumph in February before taking on the huge role.
“I now have an office overlooking the Swan River and before that I was overlooking the Thames and before that I had a view of Sydney Harbour,” Martin said.
“I don’t know where you go from here, but I have four years to think about it.”
Martin, who is a keen cyclist and in love with Cottesloe Beach, said the sense of adventure and opportunity to discover the city her grandfather grew up in attracted her to the position.
“I am definitely inspired by a sense of place, by the extraordinary landscape of WA, the rich indigenous culture positioned on the Indian Ocean,” she said.
Perth International Arts Festival 2016 runs from February 11 to March 6. The 2016 program was launched last Wednesday at Perth Concert Hall. Visit www.perthfestival.com.au.
New Perth International Arts Festival artistic director Wendy Martin.