Adelaide Festivals sets ticket records despite virus concerns

One event that wasn’t cancelled is the Adelaide Festival, which finished its 60th edition with high attendances and a stack of strong reviews. Starting on 28 February, the festival actually set records for ticket sales in spite of Covid-19 concerns.

Adelaide Festival sold 81,446 tickets across 73 events, a 13% increase on 2019. Its school programme in particular did well, with a 143% increase in ticket sales compared to 2019.

Performances that received praise from critics included the opening night Fire Gardens; theatre piece Aleppo. A Portrait of Absence from writer Mohammad Al Attar; and family show Dimanche from French creatives Julie Tenret, Sicaire Durieux and Sandrine Heyraud.

Executive director Rob Brookman remarked: “We have not seen audiences shying away from attending our performances and events – and have in fact seen an acceleration in sales over the last week of the festival. These have been challenging times in which to mount a major public event and we have felt acutely conscious of the level of trauma and uncertainty from recent horrific bushfires to the Covid-19 pandemic that is unfolding in new ways every day.”

He added: “We feel deeply for our colleagues across the arts and cultural sector as they face down cancellations or postponements of performances, festivals and tours. We have been astonished by the resilience of our community and like to think that the festival has provided many people with a kind of cultural anchor in uncertain times.”

It was the fourth edition led by co-artistic directors Neil Armfield and Rachel Healy, who signed a contract extension that will see them lead the festival until 2023. Brookman, however, is retiring, and will be replaced by Elaine Chia.