21 June 2016


Auckland Arts Festival Artistic Director, Carla van Zon, has announced her retirement following her next Festival in March 2017.

After leading the artistic vision of Auckland Arts Festival since 2011, Carla has decided to retire. Trust Chair John Judge said that Carla’s contribution to the Auckland Arts Festival has been enormous over the past six years, notable in particular by reaching wider and more diverse audiences, and a commitment to developing New Zealand work.

Led by Chief Executive David Inns, she has worked on the transition from a biennial festival to the annual model from 2015.

John Judge said the Festival was looking forward to Carla’s final festival next year from 8-26 March 2017. “Carla has made a huge contribution to the development of Auckland Arts Festival and the arts in this country. Festival audiences have grown significantly during her time as Artistic Director."

The search for Carla’s successor has taken place over the last few months and the Auckland Festival Trust is delighted to announce the appointment of Jonathan Bielski as the new Artistic Director. Jonathan takes up the position from November 2016 and will lead the programming of the 2018, 2019 and 2020 festivals.

In seeking a new Artistic Director, Mr Judge said the board looked for a candidate who would continue to deliver a Festival to meet Auckland’s growing and diverse communities.

“We were impressed by Jonathan’s pedigree and in particular the work he has done at Sydney Opera House for more than a decade. Jonathan is a New Zealander and has a strong understanding of the Auckland market.”
Most recently Jonathan has been the Project Director for Auckland Theatre Company’s new ASB Waterfront Theatre, and was at Sydney Opera House for 13 years as Head of Programming and then Director of Programming. Prior to joining the Opera House, he worked as the Group Operations Manager for Events at The Edge in Auckland, now known as Auckland Live.
“I am thrilled to be returning home to lead the Auckland Arts Festival from 2018-2020,” Jonathan said.

“Auckland is very much my home town and AAF is a festival I deeply admire so it is my dream job to join Chief Executive David Inns and the wonderful festival team. I am excited to share with Auckland some of the very best the world has to offer and I am particularly looking forward to continuing the strong commitment to developing New Zealand work so passionately championed by Carla van Zon."

Auckland Arts Festival is Auckland’s premier festival of New Zealand and international arts. The globally recognised event celebrates people and culture, and showcases the unrivalled location, cultural diversity and vibrant energy of New Zealand’s largest city.

Auckland Arts Festival is pleased to acknowledge the support from Sheffield Consulting, who led the search for the new Artistic Director.

Auckland Arts Festival receives core funding from Auckland Council and Creative New Zealand.