(5pm, Wednesday 17 October 2012, Lord Mayors Reception Room, Sydney Town Hall)
Thank you, Christopher [Tooher, Exec Director] and good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to Town Hall. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our city.
It's a great pleasure to welcome all of you - the partners and sponsors who make Sydney Festival the extraordinary and engaging event that it is. Many of you are festival "old hands", some of you are more recent supporters, but all of you are vital to its growing reach and reputation.
It's a festival which provides a fantastic spread of high art, popular culture and broad public entertainment. It has a proud history of ground-breaking Australian premieres, as well as a stellar array of international performers.
Then it has its great outdoor celebrations of Sydney in summer - events like the Domain concerts and, in recent years, Festival First Night, which has attracted over 250,000 to revel in the freedom of the City's streets. This year, as Lieven will tell you, that is taking a new direction and Festival First Night becomes Day One: An Opening in Three Acts.
The Festival is the most widely-attended cultural event in Australia. It also has a still-blossoming reputation, here and overseas, as an outstanding event. Now, as we're celebrating 36 years of Sydney Festival, our ambition is to fix its place as the world's leading summer festival.
It also has a deserved reputation as a widely accessible event, including free and family events, the Tix for Next to Nix program and the very popular About an Hour series with a huge range of ticketed performances for only $35.
2013 marks Lieven's first Sydney Festival and I think you'll be excited by his program which contains some fresh approaches as well as retaining many much-loved events.
As Chair of Sydney Festival, I'd like to congratulate him on a program which I think goes a long way to fulfilling our ambitions for our festival.
As always, too, I want to express my gratitude to all our partners, including:
- Our Government and Community Partners
- Our Corporate Partners, including Principal Partner ZIP Industries, whose chairman, Michael Crouch is with us this evening, and our Leadership Partners ANZ and China Southern
- Our Media Partners and
- Our Bar and Restaurant Partners
You're the ones who make this celebration the vital and involving one that it is, and a real celebration of excellence in the arts and culture.
Thank you all.