Melbourne Festival and National Gallery of Victoria present

Festival International


When Melbourne Festival was conceived it was, like its counterparts around the country, primarily seen as a vehicle to import international artists who would not otherwise be seen here. Thirty years later Melburnians are fortunate to see work from around the world throughout the year. This change is mirrored in most aspects of life in Melbourne in 2015; this is a city now vitally connected politically, culturally and economically in ways that have changed our position in and relationship to the world. Driven by technological innovation, the world itself is a more globally connected place.

How has this impacted the role of Melbourne’s international arts festival? Sir Jonathan Mills AO will be joined by a panel of guests whose experience expertly places them to discuss the international context of Melbourne Festival and of Melbourne; the city destined to become Australia’s biggest.


Sir Jonathan Mills AO (moderator)
Glyn Davis AC
Hon. Steve Bracks AC
Maureen Wheeler AO

Panellist biographies

Sir Jonathan Mills AO is a prominent, Australian-born, composer and festival director, who resides in the UK. In the 1990s he worked in the Architecture Faculty of RMIT University leading courses in acoustic design. He is the composer of several award-winning operas, including Eternity Man and Sandakan Threnody, and works for chamber ensemble and orchestra. 

He has been director of various festivals including Brisbane, Melbourne (2000-01) and Edinburgh, UK where he was the director of the Edinburgh International Festival between 2007 and 2014.

He is currently Director of the Edinburgh International Culture Summit, a UNESCO recognised biennial dialogue held in conjunction with Edinburgh’s summer festivals, Artistic Adviser to English National Opera, London, Vice-Chancellor’s (Professorial) Fellow at the University of Melbourne, and a Visiting Professor at the University of Edinburgh, UK.

Hon. Steve Bracks AC was Premier of Victoria for almost eight years, winning successive elections. He is Patron of the Australia Lebanon Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Vic) Ltd (ALCC), The Balibo House Trust, the Hadassah Australia Foundation, The Sir Rupert Hamer Records Management Awards, amongst others.

Mr Bracks received a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2010 for services to the Parliament and community of Victoria.  In 2011 he was presented with the Timor-Leste Solidarity Medal.  He has also received Honorary Doctorates from both Ballarat and Deakin Universities.

He is also a leading advocate for both multiculturalism and Aboriginal reconciliation.

Glyn Davis AC is Professor of Political Science, Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of Melbourne, and immediate past Chair of Universities Australia.

Professor Davis was educated in political science at the University of New South Wales and the Australian National University, before undertaking post-doctoral appointments as a Harkness Fellow at the University of California Berkeley, the Brookings Institution in Washington DC and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Internationally, Professor Davis is a past Chair of Universitas 21, a grouping of 24 leading universities from around the globe, a member of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, and a Director of the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies at King’s College London.

Maureen Wheeler AO along with her husband Tony founded Lonely Planet in 1973 and continued to be an active part in managing the company for the 35 years they owned it. Maureen has been the driving force behind the Lonely Planet Foundation, established to provide financial assistance for humanitarian projects in developing countries.

Maureen and Tony assisted in the development of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing & Ideas which was a key element in Melbourne’s recognition as a UNESCO City of Literature.

She served two terms as a director on the board of Tourism Tasmania and is currently a director with Melbourne Theatre Company and Text Publishing, and will soon be President of the Board of Melbourne Festival.