A global pandemic could not stop this year’s Adelaide Fringe from safely presenting the largest arts festival in the world and successfully injecting much-needed tourism and money into the South Australian economy.
Adelaide Fringe 2021 delivered $56.39 million in gross economic impact to the South Australian economy and generated $31.6 million in new net expenditure to the state during the 2021 festival.
The box office revenue totalled $16.4 million from 632,667 tickets sold. Of those, 73,710 tickets were sold to 26,649 tourists visiting South Australia, resulting in 85,337 visitor bed nights.
The number of visitors to the state for Adelaide Fringe highlights the cultural significance of the festival to interstate travellers even during challenging times.
Despite capacity restrictions and a slight decrease in number of shows (due to international and domestic border closures), audiences threw their support behind the festival. Fringe attracted 2.8 million attendances across the month, maintaining its status as the biggest festival in the southern hemisphere and, in 2021, the world.
Adelaide Fringe Director and CEO Heather Croall said extensive efforts in preparing for Fringe 2021 and working collaboratively with artists and venues paid off and surpassed all expectations.
“To deliver the only festival of this scale in the world in such an unpredictable climate was incredible. On average we sold 20,000 tickets each day, and including free activities, we saw an average of more than 80,000 people out each night for the 31 nights,” said Ms Croall.
“Fringe 2021 brought the city and state to life with people not only enjoying the shows but also supporting local businesses. Extra support from the State and Federal Government was absolutely critical in being able to present this year’s Fringe.”
“We dispersed those funds directly to artists and venues to give them confidence to present their work, many who had not performed for over a year.”
“Adelaide Fringe is always a collaboration between artists, venues, sponsors and audiences and this year we also worked closely with SA Health to deliver the magical month of Fringe.”
Ms Croall said while the economic impact was important, the festival also provided a strong cultural and social impact to artists, audiences and the wider South Australian community.
“Audiences craved Fringe this year along with the opportunity to re-connect with art and people once again; it really did impact people’s mental health on a positive level. This year, we delivered $33 million in total social benefit to South Australians and 4,431 peak direct and indirect jobs were created as a result of Adelaide Fringe 2021.”
From a recent Fringe audience survey, 97 per cent felt the Adelaide Fringe positively impacted their mental health, while 96 per cent felt the festival had a positive impact on their social connectivity.
In 2021, Fringe celebrated its most diverse and innovative year yet with 9.7 per cent of the program including First Nation themes, artists or creatives, and 7 per cent of artists and creatives having a lived experience of disability.
Fringe 2021 was able to distribute over $750,000 in grants to artists and venues this year, with 29 per cent of grants being distributed to First Nations recipients and 33 per cent of grants were distributed to recipients from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Immersive projects that explore the intersection of art and technology continued to be a successful part of the program as is the case since 2016 when light and projection works were introduced at Fringe. This year, Borealis at Gluttony and Mountain by Stalker at RCC attracted over 85,000 audience members to their innovative digital light shows.
Ms Croall said the focus now shifts to preparing for Adelaide Fringe 2022 and encouraging all artists to be part of the magic. “There are so many artists who are already looking forward to next year and planning is already well underway,” said Ms Croall.
Adelaide Fringe 2021 would not have been possible without the support from the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund – an Australian Government initiative with Arts SA and The Department of Premier and Cabinet.
The 2022 Adelaide Fringe will run from 18 February to 20 March. For more informanion, visit: www.adelaidefringe.com.au for details.
Image: BOREALIS, Adelaide Fringe 2021 – photo by Chloe Elizabeth