Sunsuper Riverfire returned to light up Brisbane’s spring skies last Saturday night, dazzling spectators throughout the city and many more watching live at home, in a fitting finale to Brisbane Festival 2021.
Brisbane Festival overcame the spectre of COVID 19 to successfully deliver a ‘Brightly Brisbane’ program from 3 – 25 September 2021, that celebrated the city and shone a spotlight on its ability to attract and create world class talent.
Hundreds of thousands of people revelled in the largest fireworks display Brisbane has seen in two years lining multiple vantage points throughout the inner city or viewing a live broadcast on Channel Nine with a specially curated playlist simulcast on Triple M.
Two tonnes of fireworks were launched off eight city building rooftops, two bridges and five barges on the Brisbane River spanning South Bank to Kangaroo Point and the Story Bridge. More than 25 pyrotechnicians and 50 production staff helped Foti Fireworks deliver the shows.
Brisbane Festival Artist ic Director Louise Bezzina said the free pyrotechnic spectacular was a joyous and uplifting end to the hugely successful 23 day event.
“Brisbane Festival is a celebration of everything we love about Brisbane so I was delighted that we could bring the city together in person and in spirit to enjoy Sunsuper Riverfire which is a wonderful community celebration,” she said.
“The Festival’s Brightly Brisb ane vision speaks to a sense of pride in our city; of celebrating our landmarks, lifestyle and those elements that make it unique. We are so grateful to have this bright unifying celebration for Brisbane with a program that focused on positivity, resilience, hope and triumph over adversity,” said Ms Bezzina.
Brisbane Festival’s 2021 program featured 654 performances across 222 locations including Street Serenades performances in each of Brisbane’s 190 suburbs.
The Festival commissioned 17 brand new works, hosted 16 world premieres and programmed 16 First Nations led productions. More than 1,100 local artists and art workers were employed throughou t the Festival, including 155 First Nations artists.
Brisbane Festival CEO Charlie Cush thanked the city for embracing th e spectacular display and said its ongoing support was an exceptional show of trust and confidence in Brisbane Festival.
“A massive shout out to Sunsuper for bringing tonight’s much loved fireworks event to Brisbane for the 10th year in a row,” he said. “I am also thankful for our Festival team and 150 strong volunteer force as well as our many partners and sponsors for helping us deliver a safe, exciting and world class event.
“Brisbane Festival was the much needed celebration residents and visitors were craving after a tumultuous 18 months and I am so pleased we could share with them a Brightly Brisbane Festival where more than 70 per cent of the program was free,” said Mr Cush.
This year also saw two new Festival precincts emerge BOQ Festival Garden at South Bank, incorporating the versatile South Bank Piazza, and Northshore Hamilton, home of Brisbane’s Art Boat The Warehouse performance space and ENESS ’s large scale inflatable installations.
Brisbane Festival Board Chair Alison Smith praised the city’s generosity, revealing close to 200 donors had so far contributed to a record philanthropic income of $720,000 this year up $160,000 on 2020’s previous high.
“Thanks to the ongoing support of our major shareholders, Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council, we have seen the city really connect with Louise Bezzina’s Brightly Brisbane vision leaving no doubt that September is Brisbane Festival,” she said.
“I extend my deepest gratitude also to our new donors and our loyal, returning philanthropists in driving Brisbane Festival’s Giving Program to new heights each year since its 2016 inception,” said Ms Smith.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk congratulated Brisbane Festival for presenting three weeks of inspirational productions and arts experiences. “The 2021 Festival has been a true testament to Queensland’s talent, creativity and resilience, employing local artis ts, showcasing Queensland arts companies and commissioning new works,” said the Premier.
Brisbane Festival celebrated a roll call of smash hit performances and shows in 2021, including a powerhouse concert from Kate Miller Heidke, the many cruises of Brisbane’s Art Boat, the feel good family hits Auntie’s Fiafia Night and Common People Dance Eisteddfod and audience hits Demolition and Ishmael proving sell out sensations.
Also garnering high critical acclaim and audience rave reviews were Dance north’s RED, Skyfall by The Little Red Company and Dirty Laundry from party cabaret crew, Briefs Factory International.
Street Serenades again touched the hearts of family, friends and neighbours as its five concert stages spread joy deep into the suburbs of Brisbane One of the Festival’s most anticipated works, the world premiere of Trent Dalton’s Boy Swallows Universe adapted for the stage by Tim McGarry set the box office alight.
With a season that was extended three times, Boy Swallows Universe became the biggest selling drama in QPAC’s history Queensland Theatre’s biggest selling show in its 50-plus year history and its most technically ambitious and complex show to date.
The 2022 Brisbane Festival will return to fill the city with art, music and joy from 2 – 24 September. For more information, visit: www.brisbanefestival.com.au for details.
Image: DEMOLITION – photo by Atmosphere Photography