Hannah Fox and Gideon Obarzanek have been appointed as joint artistic directors of Melbourne’s new winter arts festival which starts next year.

The new event will become the city’s flagship arts festival as it transitions from the long-running Melbourne International Arts Festival into a mega major event combined with White Night.

“We’re aiming to create something that doesn’t exist yet,” said Fox, who was previously associate creative director of Dark Mofo.

“We’ve been given the opportunity to really rethink it from the ground up. We’re not approaching it as a fusing of the Melbourne International Arts Festival and White Night, but really trying to think about it as an entirely new festival.”

Former dancer and founder of Chunky Move, Obarzanek is a multiple Helpmann Award-winner, chair of Melbourne Fringe Festival and a former artistic associate of MIAF.

Speaking to The Age, Fox said one of her biggest takeaways from working on Dark Mofo “has been understanding – and not underestimating – the audience”.

“That’s been really amazing to watch on that scale of proof – that audiences of all sorts are really much more curious than they’re often given credit for,” she said.

“[But] Hobart’s a small town, it’s easy to completely saturate it with a festival. This is very different: Melbourne has something on every night of the week [so] we need to strike a real point of difference.”

The still-to-be-named festival will run for 18 days next year from August 20 to September 6, with a mix of free and ticketed events.

Now declared a “major event”, its net cost is likely to be hidden from the public under “commercial-in-confidence”.

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Image: New co-Artistic Directors Hannah Fox and Gideon Obarzanek. Photo credit: Sarah Walker.