Adelaide Festival 2020 – a 60th birthday present with a $70 million impact

Compagnie-Carabosse's-Fire-Gradens-courtesy-of-Adelaide-FestivalJoint Artistic Directors Neil Armfield AO and Rachel Healy’s fourth Adelaide Festival has generated an estimated gross expenditure of $70.2 million for the state of South Australia. This figure is included in a 2020 Economic Assessment report by Barry Burgan on behalf of Economic Research Consultants, commissioned by the Adelaide Festival.

The report indicated that total new expenditure in South Australia due to the Festival amounted to $24.8 million (an increase from $20 million in 2019) while net impact or newly created incomes on the Gross State Product, is estimated at $30 million (up from $23 million in 2019) including the creation of the equivalent of 286 full time jobs (increase from 216 in 2019).

The report also showed that 17,105 visitors came from interstate or overseas for the Festival (decrease from 19,046 in 2019) with visitor bed nights 132,058 (decrease from 141,258 in 2019). At the conclusion of the Adelaide Festival in March, it was announced that it generated the second highest box office in the event’s 60-year history, achieving a total box office income in excess of $5.3 million.

“It is wonderful to learn about the economic impact the 2020 Adelaide Festival had on South Australia, even though what we’ve experienced over the past three months sometimes feels like it has eclipsed everything that came before it,” said Rachel Healy and Neil Armfield.

“There was so much joy and cultural nourishment in the 2020 Adelaide Festival; not only did it again prove its importance to the South Australian economy through local employment, ticket sales and attendances, but also in the pleasure of bringing  artists, audiences and communities together.”

“What has become most apparent in the absence of live performance is the importance of communal experiences, the palpable sense of occasion and the irreplaceable magic that live performance brings to our lives,” they added.

The Festival’s stand-out events included Romeo Castellucci’s Requiem which saw a quarter of its 7000-strong audience drawn from interstate. The Doctor starring Juliet Stevenson was a crowd favourite with 7,000 people attending the 13 sold-out performances at the Dunstan Playhouse. Fire Gardens by French artistic collective Compagnie Carabosse, was particularly well attended with 38,000 tickets sold across four nights of the final weekend.

“The 2020 results are that much more significant given the challenges and uncertainty that unfolded in the final week of the Festival, so it is with great pride and satisfaction that we have the opportunity to see the economic impact this remarkable event had on South Australia,” said Judy Potter, Chair of Adelaide Festival Board.

The 2020 Adelaide Festival ran for 17 days from Friday 28 February to Sunday 15 March. Adelaide Writers’ Week ran for 6 days and nights from Friday 29 February to Thursday 5 March. WOMADelaide ran for 4 days and nights from Friday 6 March to Monday 9 March.

In 2020 the Adelaide Festival celebrated 60 years and was the fourth Adelaide Festival presented by Joint Artistic Directors Neil Armfield AO and Rachel Healy. All four of their Festivals from 2017 – 2020 have been a resounding success breaking box office records.

Neil and Rachel will direct the 2021, 2022 and 2023 Adelaide Festival programs, making them the Festival’s longest serving Artistic Directors. The 2021 Festival will run 26 February – 14 March. For more information, visit: for details.

Image: Compagnie Carabosse’s Fire Gardens – courtesy of Adelaide Festival