The Melbourne Festival is pleased to announce the appointment of Josephine Ridge as the incoming Creative Director of the Festival. She will succeed Brett Sheehy, whose fourth and final Festival will be presented in October.

In announcing Josephine's appointment, Melbourne Festival President, Carrillo Gantner, AO said:

"With the help of Egon Zehnder International, we engaged in an extensive national and international search for the right person to take the Melbourne Festival to its next stage.

"Josephine was the standout candidate from an extremely strong local and international field. She understands the brief, she knows our industry inside out – both here and abroad – and she is ready to meet the new challenges.

It is great to welcome back to Victoria one of our most successful and esteemed arts leaders. I look forward to working with Josephine as she builds the future success of the Festival."

Victorian Premier and Minister for the Arts Ted Baillieu welcomed the appointment.

"Over the past quarter of a century, the artistic and creative directors of the Melbourne Festival have helped to shape the event and made a huge contribution to Melbourne itself, creating a lasting and abundant creative legacy for all Victorians," Mr Baillieu said.

"We look forward to Josephine's contribution in this next exciting phase in the evolution of our Festival and the cultural life of Melbourne and Victoria."

Josephine Ridge is one of Australia's most experienced and internationally respected arts identities and is currently Executive Director and co-CEO of Sydney Festival, which she joined in 2003.

During her tenure at Sydney Festival, Josephine was General Manager, then Executive Director and co-CEO with four Artistic Directors – Brett Sheehy, Fergus Linehan, Lindy Hume and now incoming Lieven Bertels. In this time she oversaw Sydney Festival's most spectacular period of growth, with annual revenues rising from $11.5 million to $19.5 million, net box office from $3.3 million to $5.1 million and corresponding dramatic growth in ticketed and free program attendances.

Prior to joining Sydney Festival, Josephine has had extensive experience across the arts, as Deputy General Manager of Australian Ballet (1997 to 2003), Deputy General Manager of Australian Chamber Orchestra (1993 to 1997), Marketing Manager of Playbox Theatre Company (1991 to 1993), and National Media Representative of Australian Opera (1986 to 1991).

She has also held positions in the visual arts arena, including as a member of the Board of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) in Melbourne and as a Board Member of the Tarrawarra Museum of Art in Victoria's Yarra Valley. In particular her experience includes periods of development with a focus on brand and organizational repositioning which will prove to be beneficial as she meets the challenges of a changing arts landscape.

On the announcement of her appointment, Josephine enthused:

"I'm absolutely thrilled to be joining the Melbourne Festival as its Creative Director from 2013. I'm extremely excited to be returning home to helm one of this country's most respected and diverse arts festivals. Great festivals embrace their community and I already have a good understanding of the personality, tastes, style and culture of Melbourne. I'm passionate about all art forms and I absolutely share the Board's desire to truly make this Melbourne's Festival."

On learning of Josephine's appointment current Melbourne Festival Artistic Director, Brett Sheehy, said:

"This is a terrific appointment on so many levels. Josephine is one of the most experienced festival producers in the nation, with nine international arts festivals under her belt. I couldn't have a more capable and accomplished set of hands into which to pass the Melbourne Festival and I wish her every success."

Josephine will commence her three-year appointment on 30 April 2012.