Adelaide Fringe smashes box office records

Adelaide Fringe Crowds - photo by Tony VirgoAdelaide Fringe has smashed its box office record with an impressive 825,000 tickets sold, a 17 per cent increase on last year – the biggest boost in recent years.

Organisers say the diversity and accessibility of this year’s program of 1326 events – along with great weather, a rising number of visitors and the introduction of e-ticketing – has contributed to the record-breaking ticket sales worth $19.4 million.

Adelaide Fringe Director and CEO Heather Croall, who oversaw her fourth Fringe this year, said she was particularly impressed with the calibre of events in this year’s festival and the level of support from the general public.

“The buzz around Adelaide has been absolutely electric and we are just blown away with what we’ve been able to achieve this year, from record-breaking ticket sales and improving accessibility to putting on one of the biggest celebrations of Indigenous culture that this city has ever seen,” said Ms Croall.

“We’re so proud of this year’s program and the reaction from audiences. It’s been really inspiring to see so many artists pushing boundaries and presenting ground-breaking work that people who otherwise feel marginalised can relate to.”

More than 200,000 people visited the stunning Yabarra: Gathering of Light – a free cultural experience down at the River Torrens near the University of Adelaide footbridge presented every night of the Fringe. This year’s festival also featured many smaller venues offering quality programming, with many presenting shows recognised by the festival’s 2019 Weekly Awards.

These include Holden Street Theatres, the Noel Lothian Hall at Adelaide Botanic Garden, La Boheme, A Club Adelaide, The Mill, Nexus Arts, Rhino Room, The National Wine Centre, Live from Tandanya, Bakehouse Theatre, Treasury 1860 and The Garage International at Adelaide Town Hall.

Smaller venues made up 50 per cent of ticket sales while the three major outdoor hubs (the Garden of Unearthly Delights, Gluttony and RCC Fringe) had the remaining 50 per cent.

“One of the many reasons our festival is so unique is the way Fringe venues big and small – from RCC Fringe to the GC at Grand Central – pop up all over Adelaide’s CBD, suburbs and regional SA,” said Ms Croall. “We have hundreds of venues to explore, and getting out to as many as possible is an important part of the Fringe experience.”

Following the success of last year, Adelaide Fringe has again removed inside charges for tickets under $35 and halved the inside charge for all others, resulting in an amazing $17.5 million in box office settlements paid out to Fringe artists and venues. This is an injection into the arts direct from artists to audiences.

Adelaide Fringe also continued to improve on its accessibility initiatives, which this year included partnerships with Deaf Can:Do and the Royal Society for the Blind along with the appointment of a Diversity and Access Co-ordinator.

The 2019 Fringe on Tour saw Fringe performers pop up in IKEA Adelaide and Murray Bridge for the first time in addition to Port Adelaide, Rundle Mall, Adelaide Airport, Westfield shopping centres and as far away as Port Augusta (Desert Fringe). Both in their third year, Fringe Mount Gambier (22 – 31 March) and uneARTh Festival Whyalla Fringe (18-21 April) are still on their way.

Adelaide Fringe Board Chair David Minear said the 2019 Adelaide Fringe owed its success to the hard work of artists, venues, staff and volunteers along with the support of its audiences and corporate and government partners. “So many people own this wonderful success. Of course, it starts with our talented and hard-working artists, unique venues and the dedicated Fringe team,” said Mr Minear.

“A close second are the people of South Australia who whole-heartedly embrace all that the Adelaide Fringe has to offer year after year. This is indeed ‘the people’s festival’. We are also blessed to have such strong corporate support and also from the State Government. Our success is also their success.”

Next year’s Adelaide Fringe will see the festival celebrate its 60th anniversary after first being held in 1960. Adelaide Fringe is calling on the public to share their favourite festival memories via an online survey.

Adelaide Fringe also recently announced that next year’s festival would host the Fringe World Congress, for which directors and delegates from more than 100 Fringe-style arts festivals around the world would converge on Adelaide.

The 2020 Adelaide Fringe will run from 14 February to 15 March. For more information, visit for details.

Image: The crowds at Adelaide Fringe – photo by Tony Virgo