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Adelaide Fringe Festival leads the way for arts events during new COVID normal
The world’s second largest Fringe festival, the Adelaide Fringe - is about to open - leading the way for future arts events in COVID normal times and having created an additional ticket-type to help artists earn decent profits despite not being able to sell out venues.
The Adelaide Fringe, which sold 853,419 tickets in 2020 and is a city-wide party, has made several adjustments to comply with South Australian COVID-19 guidelines and regulations as well as introduced new ways of enjoying shows and supporting artists.
Some of these include offering tickets for at-home viewing of productions, ensuring in-person audiences maintain 1.5-metre distances, and having venues operate at 50% capacity.
Adelaide Fringe head of program operations and business development, Jo O’Callaghan, said an additional ticket-type has also been created to help artists earn decent profits despite not being able to sell out venues.
O’Callaghan explains “The ‘Double Your Applause’ ticket-type is set up so that when you as an audience member purchase a ticket, you can choose to purchase the empty seat next to you, so that a 50% capacity venue is actually offering artists the ability to generate some of that income that’s lost from the 50% empty seats.”
Currently, more than 800 events have been registered for the Adelaide Fringe within the main festival hubs in the Adelaide city centre, as well as at venues throughout Adelaide and regional South Australia.
O’Callaghan said approximately 80% of the registered shows are South Australian, 17% are from interstate, and 3% are international.
Founder and artistic director of production company Preachrs Podcast OnLine & OnStage, Benjamin Maio Mackay, is putting on 10 shows for various artists at the upcoming festival. He is still worried the lack of international artists might translate to a lack of public interest.
Mackay highlights “It could go one of two ways. One way is that since there are less international acts, people will go to see local acts that they wouldn’t normally go see. That would be the best-case scenario.
“However, less international acts might mean the Fringe may not attract the same level of attention. International acts get a lot of media recognition, so the audience may not come in droves.”
O’Callaghan is more optimistic and said past Fringe statistics showed that local acts would be popular.
“If you look at the top 10 selling shows in Adelaide Fringe over the last decade, there’s always been a significant number of South Australian acts.
“If anything, the best part about 2021 Fringe will be that it’s going to champion the local voices.
“I think there’s going to be incredible audience numbers. I think all of the things we’re seeing from our audiences’ behaviours, is that people are so engaged and ready to get out.”
The Fringe opening comes amid uncertainty over the future of major festivals around the world as countries struggle to control the rise of COVID-19.
In the U.K., Edinburgh book festival will change venues for the first time in 40 years to reduce costs over fears crowds may fail to return in large numbers, and Glastonbury Festival has been officially cancelled.
O’Callaghan said the continuance of the Adelaide Fringe highlights the effectiveness of Australia’s COVID-19 lockdowns, quarantines and guidelines and added “I think it’s pretty challenging on the international landscape. I know that many of our colleagues in the U.K. that run Edinburgh Fringe and…Glastonbury Festival…are [facing more challenges] than we are from COVID.
“I do believe that there are not many other festivals on a global landscape that can have a Fringe festival to this size and scale in 2021.”
The launch of the Adelaide Fringe follows the successfully revamped Summer Sounds Festival in Adelaide, which featured multi-person ‘pods’ to maintain social distancing.
Adelaide music festival WOMADelaide will also go ahead from 5th March as a series of seated concerts following a location change to comply with COVID-19 constraints.
Image: Adelaide Fringe Festival Credit: Trentino Priori
2nd February 2021 - Western Australia regional festivals receive funding boost
2nd February 2021 - Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras release full festival program for 2021
27th January 2021 - Raglan’s Soundsplash Festival reaches 20 year milestone
13th January 2021 - 5th Biennial Yellamundie Festival opens next week
8th January 2021 - Auckland Unlimited to deliver festivals on city’s waterfront
8th January 2021 - Full program released for inaugural Heide Summer Festival
6th January 2021 - Sydney Festival transforms Sydney Town Hall into tennis court
21st December 2020 - Adelaide Fringe launches innovative and creative 2021 festival program
13th November 2020 - All Australian Made program realised for Sydney Festival 2021
14th October 2020 - Adelaide Festival Centre reports 77 shows cancelled during Coronavirus shutdown
13th October 2020 - Plan for Adelaide Festival 2021 to be held in outdoor event spaces
1st July 2020 - Adelaide Fringe Festival delivers another record-breaking year
28th November 2019 - Adelaide Fringe 2020 program celebrates diamond anniversary
20th June 2019 - Adelaide Festival secures extra funding in South Australian budget
23rd January 2019 - Adelaide Film Festival appoints new Chief Executive
25th June 2018 - Adelaide Fringe confirms significant rise in visitor spending
16th March 2018 - 2018 Adelaide Festival announces biggest ever box office takings
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