Major Festivals Initiative
Market Development section
The Major Festivals Initiative supports the commissioning, development and showcasing of new Australian performing arts productions for Australia’s major international arts festivals.
The Australia Council manages the initiative on behalf of the Australian government. The Confederation of Australian International Arts Festivals Inc (the Confederation) is directly responsible for selecting projects for support, and manages the development of the selected works and their presentation by member festivals.
Confederation members are Adelaide Festival, Brisbane Festival, Darwin Festival, Melbourne Festival, Perth International Arts Festival, Sydney Festival and Ten Days on the Island. Associate members are New Zealand International Arts Festival and Auckland Festival. Only member festivals of the Confederation (not associate members) are eligible to receive MFI funds.
These festivals present the best and most exciting contemporary arts from around the world. More importantly, they can nurture and encourage the presentation of exciting Australian arts and artists. Working together, the Confederation provides a curatorial hothouse to nurture exceptional new artistic works. Landmark works developed and presented with MFI support include Cloudstreet, The Theft of Sita, Ngapartji Ngapartji, Three Furies, Wrong Skin and The Wars of the Roses.
Each work nominated for MFI Initiative investment must have an administering festival (from the Confederation) to manage all aspects of the submission to the Confederation for MFI investment. Projects supported through the MFI must meet a range of criteria, including:
- At least three presenting partners committed to the project. A confirmed presentation by the administering festival, at least one other Confederation member and one other presentation partner (confederation member, associate member, venue or international festival).
- The work must also be new and innovative and distinctively Australian; artistically competitive within the context of international arts festivals; and exhibit characteristics of rarity and specialness, demonstrating creative leadership.
- Investment may also apply to smaller works which demonstrate other unique and internationally competitive characteristics including theme, creative team, casting, overseas presenter interest, collaborative relationships or creative development processes. Whatever the case, the work must be exceptional, consistent with the vision of the Artistic Directors of the Confederation festivals and beyond the usual scope of the producing company or artists.
The Initiative also supports Development Sites: a forum to profile new work-in-progress to member festivals and other potential presenters and partners. Three Development Sites will take place between 2012 and 2015. Confederation members approach and invite artists and companies to pitch new works at MFI Development Sites. The first of these three Development Sites was held in Melbourne in May 2012.
Projects recently supported through the MFI
- Chunky Move and Victorian Opera, Assembly (Melbourne Festival 2011, Sydney and Brisbane Festivals 2012)
- Force Majeure, Never Did Me Any Harm (Sydney, Adelaide, and Melbourne Festivals 2012)
- Arena Theatre Company, House of Dreaming (Melbourne Festival 2012, Perth and Brisbane Festivals 2013)
- Black Lung Theatre and Whaling Firm’s Doku Rai (Darwin Festival 2012, Brisbane and Adelaide Festivals 2013)
- Darwin Festival Produced, Wulamanayuwi and the Seven Pamanui (Darwin Festival 2011)
- Legs on the Wall, My Bicycle Loves You (Sydney and Perth Festivals 2011)
- Black Swan State Theatre Company, Boundary Street (Perth Festival 2011 and Brisbane Festival 2012)
- Stalker Theatre Company, Shanghai Lady Killer (Brisbane Festival 2010)